2 And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.
3 And it came to pass that he was obedient unto the word of the Lord, wherefore he did as the Lord commanded him.
4 And it came to pass that he departed into the wilderness. And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness.
(1 Nephi 2:2-4)
The Lord commanded Lehi “to take his family and depart into the wilderness.” Nephi tells us that his father was obedient. Then he goes on to tell us what his father chose to leave behind (his house, his land, and his “precious things”), and what he took with him (his family, provisions, and tents).
This all sounds very sensible, even obvious. You can’t take your house or your land with you, and “precious things” like gold and silver, which seem so valuable to a city dweller, are simply dead weight to a person traveling in the wilderness.
But we tend to become attached to things that aren’t essential. From the beginning of the journey, Laman and Lemuel complained about the things that they had left behind: “They did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 2:11).
What kinds of “precious things” are we carrying around that are unnecessary, and why are we so attached to them? As I’ve thought about this today, I’ve considered both physical things that clutter up my environment and unnecessary obligations which clutter up my schedule. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf has taught:
When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be.
One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.
Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks (“Of Things that Matter Most,” General Conference, October 2010).
Today, I will declutter my life. I will identify the “precious things” in my schedule and in my environment which might seem important but which are simply slowing me down and making my life more difficult. I will simplify my life, so that I can focus on the things that matter most.