God organized us into families to give us a way to help and support each other. I was thinking about this as I read 1st Nephi chapter 8 in the Book of Mormon. This chapter is about Lehi, who was a prophet of God around 600 BC in Jerusalem. The Lord warned Lehi that Jerusalem was about to be destroyed and instructed him to take his family and flee into the wilderness. Lehi’s family, at this time, consisted of at least his wife, Sariah, and four sons: Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi.
While in the wilderness, Lehi had a dream, commonly referred to as the “Vision of the Tree of Life.” In this dream, Lehi sees a tree and eats some of its fruit. The fruit is the most delicious thing that he has ever had, and he immediately wants his family to come so that they can enjoy it too. He looks around and sees Sariah, Sam, and Nephi, and he waves at them and calls them over so that they can enjoy the fruit. He looks around again for his other sons, and sees Laman and Lemuel, but when he calls to them, they refuse to come.
After Lehi wakes up from his dream, he gathers his family around him and tells them about the dream. In interpreting the dream, Lehi realizes that the fruit represents eternal life. He realizes that Sariah, Sam, and Nephi enjoyed the blessings of the fruit, but that Laman and Lemuel refused. This causes him to worry about his two oldest sons; he wants the best for them, but they had refused the joy that the fruit in his dream could bring them. Lehi talks to Laman and Lemuel, and “he did exhort them with all the feeling of a tender parent” (1st Nephi 8:37). He pleads with them to accept the fruit (and eternal life) and be happy, because he loves them.
Lehi always loved his sons, regardless of the questionable decisions that they often made. He supported and guided them to help them know what to do. And he didn’t do it in a mean or strict manner, but tenderly and lovingly. We have the opportunity to do the same thing in our families. We all make questionable decisions sometimes, and we can help others when they make them. We can guide our family members to make better decisions, we can have discussions with them about the consequences of their decisions, and we can love them no matter what they do. God gave us families so that we could provide this love and support for each other. God loves us, and He has given us each other, our families, so that we can feel that love.
To learn more about Lehi and his family in the Book of Mormon, visit lds.org