One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is the story about the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people. After being taught the gospel by Ammon, one of the sons of Mosiah, these people realized that what they had been taught by their ancestors was wrong. They realized that the traditions they followed and the hatred they had toward the Nephites was all wrong.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehi people experienced such a mighty change of heart and trusted in Jesus Christ so much that they made a covenant to never use their weapons of war again. As it says in The Book of Mormon, they buried their weapons of war deep in the earth. Lamanites who were angry about their conversion and were stirred up to anger by those who wanted power wanted to destroy them. Those Lamanites went to war against the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people. Rather than fight back, the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people prostrated themselves and were killed as they prayed to God.
There were many Lamanites whose hearts were changed because of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people who kept their covenant to never use their weapons of war again. They would rather have died than to kill another person. They would rather have died and gone to their God knowing that they had kept their covenant and remained true to their new found faith and religion.
Why does the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people touch me so much? Because from those people came the women who raised the young men who were known as the 2,000 stripling warriors. They were covenant keeping women and women of faith.
During a time of war, these 2,000 young men volunteered to defend their country because they had not entered into the covenant their fathers had made to never use their weapons of war. They were led by a man named Helaman. At one point, they were acting as decoys to draw out the enemy. Another group of men that were supposed to fight with the enemy. However, they noticed that the enemy stopped following them and they didn’t know whether the other group of men had overtaken the enemy. Therefore, they were faced with the decision to stay put or to turn back and go fight.
In Alma 56:44 Helaman leaves it up to the 2,000 stripling warriors to decide when he asks, “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?” In Alma 56:46 they respond, “Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.” Helaman then writes in verses 47-48, “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.”
That says a lot about their mothers! It shows that their mothers trusted in the Lord. They had to have developed that faith and trust since they were of the people who buried their weapons of war and would not fight back. They were women who honored their covenants knowing that whether they lived or died, God would always be with them. They passed that legacy of faith down to their sons and raised them in righteousness. They taught their sons to know God.
You may be wondering how this pertains to my journey with mental illness. I feel that the mothers of the Stripling Warriors set the example of honoring and supporting the Priesthood by standing by their husbands who had buried their weapons of war and raising righteous sons who were not afraid to live up to their responsibilities. With that said, I have always struggled with turning to the Priesthood.
My mom reminds me so much of the mothers of the Stripling Warriors. She has remained true and faithful to her covenants, always trusting that the Lord will work things out. She has done what she could to honor and support those who hold the Priesthood by supporting our dad and brothers. She has done all she could to raise sons in the gospel. Despite her efforts, the men in my family didn’t always choose to live the gospel or be active in the church. For most of my life, the Priesthood was not available in my home.
If I struggled with anything, I figured things out for myself. I couldn’t turn to my dad or my brothers. My dad was the type of man who felt that if you had problems, you kept those to yourself. You were not to tell anyone about them because it would bring shame and embarrassment. So I didn’t turn to home teachers, my bishopbric, or any other Priesthood leaders for help.
Because I got so use to not having the Priesthood available to me, when I found out that I was suffering from anxiety and depression I had the hardest time reaching out to Priesthood holders for a blessing. I wouldn’t allow Priesthood holders to use their Priesthood to comfort, bless, or protect me. I didn’t want them to.
Things started to change for me when I came across the mothers of the Stripling Warriors during this journey. I learned that there are mothers in these days that are just like the mothers of the Stripling Warriors. They have sacrificed for their families. They have been through struggles because they have chosen to be covenant keeping women that put their trust in God no matter what the circumstances may be. They have waded through much sorrow and tribulation to raise their sons to be who they are today; faithful young men who honor their Priesthood. It hit me that if I didn’t turn to the Priesthood for help, not only was I denying my Heavenly Father’s help but I was trampling the efforts and sacrifices mothers have made so that me and other people could receive blessings that come from the Priesthood.
Slowly, but surely I have begun to allow home teachers in to my home. When I have a problem that seems beyond my capacity to handle, I will pray to be led to a Priesthood holder who honors his Priesthood so that I can receive support, comfort, blessings, and protection. This process of learning to utilize the Priesthood has really taught me that God will not leave us comfortless. The Priesthood doesn’t only heal us physically, but it heals us mentally and repairs our broken spirits.