In the margin of my scriptures next to 1 Nephi 17:20, I have the word perspective written.
In this verse, the brothers of Nephi are recounting what they have experienced. Through Laman and Lemuel’s perspective, they say;
And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.
Now, the reason that I have perspective written next to this verse is because one page back in the opening of the chapter, Nephi gave his own account of what they had experienced.
Remember… They were all there together. They are going through the same wilderness.
… And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.
And thus we see that the commandments of God must be fulfilled. And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them; wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness.
Nephi started out by saying “we did wade through much affliction.”
It is so poignant to me that we can experience the exact same situation as another person and have a completely different perspective. But, I don’t believe this means that we have to pretend that life is perfect! It does mean we get to choose. Our attitude, our gratitude, the way we interpret what we are waiting though—it is all a choice.
Bitterness or hope?
Resentment or forgiveness?
Hate or love?
And what about judgment? While it might be easy to look at Laman and Lemuel and judge them for their bad attitude, it brings mind to that old adage about walking a mile in someone’s shoes. Do you know how long Nephi’s family had wandered in the wilderness by this point? EIGHT years. And there was no shop to get a new pair of Nikes for all those miles.
One of the definitions of perception is “a physical sensation interpreted in the light of experience.”
But how can we change our perception? The answer is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The beautiful, incredible life-altering, world-changing gospel of Jesus Christ can do it!
I know this because I have lived it.
It is heart changing—it changed mine! Before the gospel, I was cynical. I didn’t believe in love or families. I didn’t want to have children (the world was way too awful to do that). I was sad, and my attitude (and language) was something you may have tried to avoid (for good reason).
But then, at 20 years old, the gospel found me and my heart was changed. Hope was restored, the world shed its bleakness, and revealed that there was goodness all around me. Of course, it had always been there, but I couldn’t see it, not until my perception changed.
Trials will find us. The road will have bumps. But there will also be tender mercies waiting for each of us every time we need them—they are the sweet reassurances that God is near, that Jesus loves and know you, and that there is always hope.
But it is up to us to see these tender mercies as the miracles they are.