A Strait Path

by Autumn Dickson

The end of 2 Nephi is fantastic. As I read it, I pictured Nephi summarizing everything towards the end of his life. He had kept a record and taught many lessons and told stories from his life, but in 2 Nephi 31, Nephi wanted to make sure that the lessons were explicitly laid out.

There is one specific lesson I want to cover.

2 Nephi 31:9 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.

Maybe I’m a little slow on the pickup, but it wasn’t until later in life that I recognized the word “strait” as being different from the word “straiGHt.” Though both imply “narrowness,” they are not the same thing. “Strait” was the word that Nephi chose and Joseph translated, and it was a very purposeful word. Let’s explore it.

In the dictionary, “strait” has a couple of definitions. It doesn’t mean a line with no curves or bends. It means, “difficult, limited in resources, closely fitted.” It might not sound pleasant, but these words are actually so cool. 

So, “difficult.” The path towards ultimate salvation (as well as the path where we can experience a form of salvation along the way) is hard; that was kind of the whole point. Though it sounds awful, our path towards exaltation included finding ourselves in really difficult circumstances that bring us down. That doesn’t sound very loving or doting of our Heavenly Father, but if we can keep our focus on Him, then it’s actually the most rewarding by far. Strait also means “limited in resources;” this one fascinated me. There will not be many places where we can find comfort outside of the Savior. Luckily, He is actually quite vast in terms of resources.

I could spend a post on each of those definitions, but the one I want to really explore is “closely fitted.” It completely changed the meaning of this verse in my mind when compared to the word “straiGHt.” StraiGHt means no turns or bends. Strait can turn and bend as much as necessary; it’s just closely fitted to the individual. The Lord has extremely individualized paths for each of us. Christ is the only One who walked a “straiGHt” path; the paths we take as imperfect people are much more accurately defined as strait.

There are many ways in which our paths can be described as strait. Obviously, the Lord takes us through specific trials, life experiences, and personalized messages from the Holy Ghost. But there is one other way that I’ve learned that I don’t believe is often talked about.

Strait and sin

So if we were to look at the word “straiGHt” as our example of a sinless path towards God, then it’ll be easier to observe our own paths.

Do we “need” sin in order to get back to our Heavenly Father? Obviously not. Seems like a very silly question, but the silly question helps me highlight the actual truth. We don’t need sin in order to get back to our Heavenly Father, but we do need the lessons that often accompany sin. Sometimes we really do need to learn the hard way in order to change into what God would have us become. God doesn’t want us to sin, but He did send us here to grow and learn. He sent us to taste the bitter so we could comprehend the sweet.

My personal strait path has included plenty of opportunities to fail. One of the first ones that come to mind is this blog to be honest. When Heavenly Father first started prompting me to start this journey of blogging and Youtube videos and podcasting, one of my main worries was my vanity. In college, I wanted to be a musician which takes a fair amount of promoting yourself. Which is awesome for other people. Not so awesome for me. I was painfully aware of rejection and perceived rejection everywhere. I craved validation from other people. I became self-centered in a lot of ways. I wanted to be on a pedestal. When it all came crashing down around me, it felt like one of the biggest blessings of my life (or at least it did later on). I was taken out of that dark place and away from putting myself out there. I became a much happier person, and I shunned temptation because I never wanted to feel that way about myself again.

So when Heavenly Father came knocking on my door, asking me to put myself out there again, I told Him I wasn’t interested. I told Him that I was trying to avoid my obvious weakness of vanity and pride and caring too much about what other people think about me. I know what happens at the end of that road (at least what happens for me). It wasn’t a place I wanted to go to.

As I talked with Heavenly Father about these concerns, He told me that He was giving me an opportunity to practice sharing my light while letting go of that vanity. I told Him that if I failed, that would be on Him haha.

And I have failed many many many many many times. There have been plenty of times where I have cared far too much about whether people like what I put out there. There have been plenty of times where I have felt sharp embarrassment over mistakes I’ve made or when I’m not particularly articulate. There have been plenty of times when I’ve gotten too excited about when I have done a good job. I still have all of these problems, but they have gotten significantly better. It doesn’t affect me as much as it used to.

But I’m so grateful that Heavenly Father wasn’t worried about keeping my path perfectly straiGHt. He was wise enough to take me on a strait path that would allow me to practice being like Him even if it meant some curves, bends, failings, and even sin. He knew that it was the only path that would help me become what He needed me to become. It was specifically tailored to me.

This is not me encouraging you to go seek paths of temptation and sin in order to learn a lesson. That would be dumb; excuse the word, but I used it because it’s accurate. So if I’m not encouraging you to go out and seek opportunities to sin, why am I bringing it up?

Why teach this?

Because it took a weight off my chest. I don’t look back in agony at past mistakes, and I don’t look forward in fear about making more mistakes (since…you know…it’s inevitable). I was never meant to be perfect during mortal life. Heavenly Father has specific lessons that we, as individuals, need to learn. Sometimes it means putting us in situations where we’re going to fail, fail often, and fail hard (hello mortality in general).

He sent us here to make mistakes so that we could become what He meant for us to become, and He sent His Son to pay for it. That was always the plan.

I don’t seek sin, but I’m also no longer afraid of failing. I get to move forward in my life, exerting my energy toward becoming like Him without carrying around the weight of my mistakes. I have a powerful Savior who paid for my sins. Rather than worrying about the fact that He didn’t deserve to take on all that pain, I trust Him and I have a testimony that He was the One who led me on this strait path. He brought me here to fail, He paid for my sins, He comforts me and has the ability to comfort those I’ve wounded, and all I’m left with is a powerful lesson.

As parents, family members, leaders, and friends

I also share this message because it makes us powerful disciples.

Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in a desperate desire to keep our loved ones from making mistakes, to keep them on the straiGHT path so that they never have to experience consequences, that we end up doing more damage. We were never meant to walk a straiGHt path, and neither were those we love. Of course we would like to spare our loved ones pain, but that goal is ultimately short-sighted.

There was a talk given by Sister Tamara W. Runia in the October 2023 General Conference. Please listen to it. God led me to it right at this specific time of writing this post because she expressed what I was hoping to express.

I went through a rough patch my senior year in high school when I wasn’t making great choices. I remember seeing my mom crying, and I wondered if I’d disappointed her. At the time, I worried that her tears meant she’d lost hope for me, and if she didn’t feel hope for me, maybe there wasn’t a way back.

But my dad was more practiced at zooming out and taking the long view. He’d learned from experience that worry feels a lot like love, but it’s not the same. He used the eye of faith to see that everything would work out, and his hopeful approach changed me.

If we can tap into the doctrine that Christ always meant for us to walk a strait path, not a straiGHt path, we will become much more powerful in our ability to help those we love. If we can focus on developing their relationship with the Savior, helping them rely on Him, helping them learn from Him, helping them take powerful lessons from their mistakes, we will exponentially increase their progress in comparison to a desperate attempt to avoid pitfalls, curves, and bends. Our loved ones will no longer feel like it’s their responsibility to be perfect; rather, they will feel and know that mortal life was about progress and that a relationship with the Savior will give them everything they need to achieve that.

I’m grateful for a Savior who paid the price for me to have this experience. I’m grateful that He has taught me about His sacrifice. I’m grateful that He didn’t have impossible expectations for me, and I’m grateful that He has never lost sight of who I can become.


Autumn Dickson was born and raised in a small town in Texas. She served a mission in the Indianapolis Indiana mission. She studied elementary education but has found a particular passion in teaching the gospel. Her desire for her content is to inspire people to feel confident, peaceful, and joyful about their relationship with Jesus Christ and to allow that relationship to touch every aspect of their lives.

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