36 And in the eighty and second year they began again to forget the Lord their God. And in the eighty and third year they began to wax strong in iniquity. And in the eighty and fourth year they did not mend their ways.
37 And it came to pass in the eighty and fifth year they did wax stronger and stronger in their pride, and in their wickedness; and thus they were ripening again for destruction.
As Mormon describes the gradual deterioration of the Nephites’ righteousness, one phrase strikes me more than any other: “They did not mend their ways.” Here are his short descriptions, year by year:
- Year 83 – “They began…to forget the Lord,” which implies sloppiness in fulfilling the basic duties of discipleship, including prayer and church attendance.
- Year 84 – Their negligence led to intentional disobedience, and “they began to wax strong in iniquity.”
- Year 85 – “They did not mend their ways.” They had time to recognize their errors and correct them, but they did not take advantage of that time.
- Year 86 – They became increasingly proud and wicked, and the consequences of their wickedness were now imminent.
We know that our Heavenly Father is long-suffering. He is committed to our growth, so He gives us numerous opportunities to recognize and correct our own errors. Many times, we may have small indications that we need to make course corrections, but we are spared the traumatic experiences which are the natural consequence of our actions–for a time. This allows us to exercise our own agency and fix the problem without being compelled to fix it. When this happens, it’s a temporary situation. Eventually, we will face the consequences of our actions. But how wonderful it is to be granted a space to repent, a delay between action and reaction within which we can correct our mistakes proactively instead of reactively. (See Alma 12:24).
Today, I will remember the importance of identifying and correcting mistakes in my life. I will be grateful that the consequences of my actions are sometimes delayed, and I will take responsibility for address issues in my life before they get out of control. I will ask myself what I need to change, and I will proactively “mend my ways.”