2 Nephi 4:17, 27, 30-35
The other day I had a moment of Nephi-like anguish for my mortal-ness. In 2 Nephi 4:17 Nephi exclaims, “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.” Have you ever felt the duality of your existence in this way? We are each of us parts divine and mortal, an eternal spirit in a mortal body. While our mortal bodies are essential to learning, growth, and preparation for eternal life, sometimes I wish it didn’t have to be this way. Sometimes my spirit desires righteousness and goodness beyond what my mortal half is capable of doing, thinking, or being.
I can’t imagine that Nephi was guilty of any really serious iniquities but I do understand that any thought, deed, or behavior in any way remotely contrary to God’s standard would cause discomfort for a sensitive spirit that had been cultivated in obedience, prophecy, visions from God, angelic ministrations, and righteous deeds. Mortal-ness is a powerful component of each individual. When we spend time engaged in mortal and worldly things, we feed this part of ourselves, making it even stronger. The reverse is true, however, that when we spend time engaged in spiritual activities and pursuits, we feed our spirits and make them stronger. Prayer, scripture study, family home evening, ministering, attending church, teaching the Gospel, worshipping in the temple, bearing testimony, and keeping the commandments all cultivate our spirits and strengthen them. Continuing to strengthen our spirits over our lifetimes is critical to developing the spiritual sensitivity Nephi demonstrates, as well as the strength of spiritual desire necessary to choose righteousness over every other option.
But as Nephi reminds us in verses 30-35, we don’t have to labor against mortal weaknesses alone. The Lord is there waiting to help us. Having experienced this same duality of immortal spirit subject to fleshy mortality, He understands our challenges and knows how to help. Like Nephi, we can put our trust in the Lord as He “makes our paths straight,” “clears the way before us,” “delivers us out of the hands of our enemies,” helps us to lose our taste for sin, encircles us “in the robe of [His] righteousness,” and “redeems our souls.”