I try to read the scriptures with a focus on trying to understand the people in them and the "background story" behind the accounts. I understand that is a subjective process and that some of my conclusions might be incorrect, but it's important to me to try to get to know the people themselves as well as possible and not just read the stories shallowly.
In that light:
If you want an interesting experience, read 1 Nephi from the perspective
of Laman and Lemuel constantly hearing their father rag on them.
Read how Nephi describes it and see if "the words of a tender
parent" feel tender to the person on the receiving end of the sermons.
It was easy for Nephi, I think, to agree that his father was being a
loving, concerned parent - but I can't imagine that Laman and Lemuel felt
anything except constant criticism and negative comparison to their
"perfect little brother, the spoiled brat".
Lehi, I'm certain, loved all of
his children, but he "exhorted" those whose lives were different than
his goals for them. His family, in my mind, was very dysfunctional -
and I'm sure some of it was a result of internal family dynamics and unrealistic
My point for this post?
In our own lives, we should strive not to react like Laman or Lemuel, even if some people act like Lehi. However, knowing how brutally hard that is in many situations, we should strive just as diligently to avoid judging people in the way we tend to judge Laman and Lemuel - especially in situations we probably understand no better than theirs due to our relative lack of information about dynamics we can't see and/or understand fully.
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