Last week in Sunday School we covered The Book of Mormon story of Nephi building a boat to take his family to the new world. For some reason I couldn’t get my mind off the topic after class ended. It has taken a full week but I have come to some new conclusions about the subject.

In class the teacher presented the example of faithful Nephi doing what the Lord commanded, even when he had no experience with shipbuilding. What an example Nephi is of righteous obedience, that is true. But is his story that unusual? I think not. I think each us, especially as a family unit, build our own boats.

When Rob and I got married 25 years ago, we spent our honeymoon deciding what our lives were going to be like. We knew how much longer we had in college, what jobs we would get after graduation, how many beautiful children we were going to have. We were going to live a life of ease on our version of the land of Bountiful. We had arrived. It was a wonderful plan, I wish it came true. But it didn’t.

Instead, we found ourselves learning previously unimaginable skills of boat building. We learned about having children with hearing loss, serious food and environmental allergies and poorly functioning immune systems. We learned about emergency, life-threatening brain surgery and miraculous recoveries. We also learned about the stress of having children while living on minimum wage, going to school full-time and working full-time cleaning toilets at night.

We learned very specialized skills that were crucial to our family. No one else could have built the boat that we did. It was ocean-worthy and served us well. We didn’t have a clue before hand why it was necessary to do the work we were given. But we were desirous to do whatever the Lord required to be the very best parents and family we could be.

I will admit to an occasional bit of ship-envy, seeing the lovely yachts my friends seemed to be steering while I swear we were stuck in a leaky old row boat. We constantly kept working on our sad little boat, hoping with enough effort on our part we too would reach the Promised Land.

Some days it seemed an impossible goal, especially when we happened upon a friends shipwrecked vessel or even worse, seeing a massive warship sink like a stone. It was so discouraging. If they, in boats much bigger and more seaworthy than our little fishing boat couldn’t make it, what were our chances?

Really, we had no choice but to hang in there. We didn’t have money to dump our boat and upgrade to something bigger or better. No one offered either of us a chance to jump ship to another boat. We were stuck with each other and our situation. We couldn’t just tread water, that would have been suicide. So we kept at. And we sailed to places we would have never dreamed of going. We saw amazing feats of courage and kindness and everything worthy. It has been marvelous. We wouldn’t trade our trip so far for anyone else’s.

Our kids are now working on building their own boats. We are helping them, realizing that very soon it will be up to them to figure out how to read the water currents for themselves, with only a Liahona to guide them. That is life. Everyone has to do it. Maybe not with the same tools that Nephi did, or under same circumstances that he faced. But guaranteed, everyone will be building a boat, whether they want to live on the beach or not.