And it came to pass that as I, Nephi, went forth to slay food, behold, I did break my bow, which was made of fine steel; and after I did break my bow, behold, my brethren were angry with me because of the loss of my bow, for we did obtain no food. . . .
Now it came to pass that I, Nephi, having been afflicted with my brethren because of the loss of my bow, and their bows having lost their springs, it began to be exceedingly difficult, yea, insomuch that we could obtain no food. (1 Nephi 16:18, 21)
I find it rather telling that here Nephi’s brothers are so angry with him for breaking his bow, and yet their bows don’t work either. If Nephi can be blamed for breaking his bow, then Laman and Lemuel are just as blameworthy for allowing their bows to lose spring. It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

It is probable that Laman and Lemuel’s bows lost spring first, but they weren’t too worried about this because Nephi’s bow still worked. But as soon as Nephi’s bow broke, there was nothing to fall back on, and became a serious loss with everyone’s lives at stake.

This issue with the bows sort of sounds like it could be a great teaching analogy for moral strength. When a bow loses its spring, the string isn’t tight enough to propel an arrow. Range and penetrating power is substantially decreased. And of course, when a bow breaks outright, an arrow can’t be sent any distance at all.  Some souls are too slack to be as effective as they should. Some other souls are under so much pressure that they break and can’t act at all. Which is worse? It’s hard to say. They are both tragedies in their own way.

The story of the bows could also teach us something about how we deal with stress. If we’re too slack, we don’t do as much as we could. If we’re too rigid, we may break under pressure. We have to have an optimal level of flexibility—just enough strength and steadfastness to be firm, but also enough adaptability to not break.

Personal note: It’s nice to be back. I was in England on vacation for a couple weeks.

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