Why is it so hard for us to admit when we are lost? For some reason, we find comfort and stability in knowing where we are. There is something unnerving about not knowing our location. And we certainly don’t like other people suggesting that we are in that situation. To be lost is to be helpless and dependent, unable to resolve our challenges without help.
Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi taught his family that “all mankind” are “in a lost and in a fallen state,” and that we can only be saved by relying on our Redeemer (1 Nephi 10:6).
The prophet Abinadi likewise testified to the priests of King Noah that everyone is lost, “and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state” (Mosiah 16:4).
When the prophet Alma told the people of Ammonihah that they were “a lost and a fallen people,” they became angry (Alma 9:30-32). Even though he later clarified that everyone is “lost and fallen” (Alma 12:22), they were still incensed with him “because of the plainness of his words.” As a result, he and his companion Amulek were imprisoned (Alma 14:2-5).
Sometimes our lostness becomes so obvious that we are unable to ignore or hide it. The prodigal son may have thought at first that everything was under control, but when he found himself feeding pigs and barely earning enough to survive, “he came to himself.” He acknowledged that he needed help, swallowed his pride, and returned to his father (Luke 15:15-19).
But when the older brother learned that the prodigal son had returned and that his father had organized a celebration, he was angry. He had never behaved so foolishly, yet he had never been given a party like this. “Lo, these many years do I serve thee,” he said to his father, “neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends” (Luke 15:29). He may have never left home, but he was in his own way lost: blinded by envy, unable to recognize the strength of his position and to extend a hand of kindness to a brother in need. (See Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Other Prodigal,” General Conference, April 2002.)
Today, I will remember that we are all lost in some way. As Lehi, Abinadi, and Alma testified, we all need help to overcome our challenges; none of us can do it alone. Unlike the citizens of Ammonihah, I will acknowledge the ways in which I am lost and will turn to my Heavenly Father for the guidance and the assistance that I need.