Alma 24: 17-26
“And now it came to pass that when the king had made an end of these sayings, and all the people were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the wedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth. And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.
“And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried their weapons of war, for peace.
“And it came to pass that their brethren, the Lamanites, made preparations for war, and came up to the land of Nephi for the purpose of destroying the king, and to place another in his stead, and also of destroying the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi out of the land.
“Now when the people saw that they were coming against them they went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword. And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay and thousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for the have gone to dwell with their God.
“Now when the Lamanites saw that their brethren would not flee from the sword, neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but that they would lie down and perish, and praised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword–Now when the Lamanites saw this they did forbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had swollen in them for those of their brethren who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done. And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down even as their brethren, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them. And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous people, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved.”
Choose to be vulnerable; let this person in.
I love the story of Ammon and the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. There are a lot of stories in The Book of Mormon that I like but for some reason, this one has always had a special place in my heart.
You know, I think one of the hardest things about relationships sometimes, is choosing to be vulnerable to hurt and pain. In Hannah Hurnard’s book, Hind’s Feet On High Places, two of the characters are discussing love (I would quote the book but it’s in storage somewhere…) and saying that love and pain go together. How. True. That. Is. Sometimes love is the most painful thing we will ever experience. But it’s also the most beautiful.
A friend of mine tweeted some time ago, for the life of me I can’t find the exact quote, but it was something to the effect of everyone in life causes you pain so choose the people that make the pain worth it. I so appreciated that honesty and vulnerability that came with that statement! Sometimes I’ve had this unrealistic expectation that I’m going to find someone on the planet where we never have any problems, ever. Every thing will just be like a dream. La, la, la, la, la…so not realistic. That’s not to say that you might not be able to get to that point. I’m all for miracles! But the reality is, we’re all human, we all make mistakes, misunderstand things, take offense, do stupid things…you get the idea. So far I have not had one close relationship where there wasn’t a problem that needed to be worked out somewhere, at some point. Trivial things aren’t as big a deal as those things that cut deep, to our core. It’s easy to be vulnerable over the trivial things, but when it comes to those broken heart kind of wounds, that can be a really. tall. order.
And I mean really tall.
My sister and I had a conversation over a year ago (yes, we’ve talked since then 🙂 ) that really stood out to me. I was talking to her about some issues and insecurities that I’d had with some other women and she said something to me that really stuck.
She shared with me how her closest friend had done something that really hurt her, and instead of shutting off and pushing away and shelving it or pretending like it didn’t happen (all things I would do), she engaged and expressed how hurt she was. Maybe that sounds like a “duh” moment to you. But for me this was a real “aha moment”. My sister said that with the relationships that she is closest to, that she wants to keep, she is honest, open and vulnerable.
Can I just say: THAT’S HUGE!
How many people actually do that?
I have spent so much of my life, hiding how I really felt and perceived things, away, because I was terrified of being rejected. And the more I was hurt the more I would hide myself away. People who most needed to understand me and know me, couldn’t, because I wouldn’t let them. We had constant problems and misunderstandings, because I wouldn’t open up and be vulnerable. Open up and share what was in my heart, the good, the bad, the ugly, the joyful, the happy, the sad, the painful.
To this day, with some people, I think, if I’d really been real with that person way back then, what would have been different?
You know what I think would have happened?
Our relationship would have been real. Not built with cards on a mountain of sand. It probably wouldn’t have been peaches and cream all the time, but it would have been genuine. At least more genuine than it was. Maybe they would have liked me, maybe they wouldn’t have, and maybe it would have been some of both, as it is with most people. We like somethings, dislike others.
You know what else though? When you are open, honest and vulnerable with another person, and you let them in, into the inner world of you, and they do the same, there is a bonding that happens. Almost like a patchwork quilt between your two hearts. Pieces from you and pieces from them that come together to make something beautiful.
In maintaining that openness and vulnerability with another person you have the opportunity to know each other with a growing capacity. Petty preferences, their background, their thinking processes, their trigger buttons, their wounds, their ironclad warrior places, their Achilles’ heel, the things that really make their day, what makes them tick, how they function best, how they absolutely don’t function :-)…
And because we are growing, changing, and as one friend put it, evolving people, there is a continual opportunity to be vulnerable and to share and to bond and to know each other, over and over and over again.
Sometimes we’ll have those people who get to know us, and they end up turning on us later. And it’s never the same after that. But, there’s a whole other world of loyal, loving people, who will stick it out no matter what you’re relationship passes through. You never know which one they are going to be to begin with. Only God knows that.
If we live our lives in suspicion, constantly expecting to be stabbed in the back, we’ll miss opportunities to have real, genuine, pass-the-test-of-time-and-adversity friends.
And there’s also the possibility that by being vulnerable and letting another into your inner world, you’ll turn an enemy into a friend, and the best kind of friend at that.
Assignment for Dare 15:
Next time you’re loved one asks you a question, be open, be honest; let them have a glimpse of the you inside. Be brave enough to let them see you as you are, right where you are at. Take time to share and be real with this person.