Episode 9 // The Journey to Peace: Nurturing Attachment to God with Annie Bentley Waddoups

May 21, 2024
Proclaim Peace S1E9



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On this episode of the Proclaim Peace Podcast, Jennifer and Patrick are joined by Annie Bentley Waddoups. They emphasize the importance of reading the scriptures with fresh perspectives and how peace is intricately woven into the histories of individuals and families in the book. By discussing scriptures in 2 Nephi and Jacob, they uncover valuable lessons about how individual attachments are formed to parents, both earthly and heavenly. Join them on this journey of discovering the profound message of peace within the Book of Mormon.



[00:02:36] Nurturing Children in Community.

[00:04:44] Transforming trauma into peace.

[00:08:09] Peace as a zone.

[00:13:33] Born in unstable circumstances.

[00:17:20] Personality differences in Jacob.

[00:20:28] The power of repair.

[00:26:26] Repairing Relationships through Cycles.

[00:30:06] Spiritual development and growth.

[00:30:49] Heavenly Parenting Insights.

[00:36:24] Jacob's leadership qualities

[00:42:14] Healing power of atonement.

[00:45:08] Peace and human development.

[00:47:34] Source of extraordinary peace.



(00:03-00:06) Jennifer Thomas: Welcome to the Proclaim Peace Podcast. I'm Jennifer Thomas.
(00:06-00:15) Patrick Mason: And I'm Patrick Mason. And this is the podcast where we apply principles of the gospel and read the Book of Mormon to become better peacemakers.

(00:15-00:17) Jennifer Thomas: How are you today, Patrick?

(00:17-00:18) Patrick Mason: I'm doing great. How are you doing?

(00:18-00:19) Jennifer Thomas: I'm doing well, thank you.

(00:19-00:37) Patrick Mason: Good. Well, we hope that this podcast is inspiring people to think about the Book of Mormon as a tool that they can use to become better peacemakers and also that they're reading the Book of Mormon with fresh perspective. I know definitely that's been my journey. I think that's been true for you as well.

(00:37-00:40) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, absolutely. New things popping up around every corner.

(00:41-01:10) Patrick Mason: Yeah, that this book has more to tell us about peace even than we may have imagined or anticipated. And I don't think this should necessarily be surprising to us. I mean, peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit. You know, the Book of Mormon is just, it is the great witness of Christ and teaches us all these things. But it's just really striking to me to see how peace comes and goes. It's so tied up into these histories of individuals and families that we read about in the book.

(01:11-03:07) Jennifer Thomas: Yeah, so because of this, we've been lingering a lot in both 2 Nephi and Jacob because we feel like we don't have any need to rush. We're just trying to go where the lessons take us. And so we are still in those chapters today. And this conversation for us is an example of two things. First, proof that it is worth lingering over scripture. It's also important that we read it in conjunction with our neighbors and friends and be prepared to talk about things on a schedule. But we also want to encourage you to linger. The second thing we want to invite you to realize is how much richness can be added when we dialogue about the scriptures with people who are seeking peace in their lives using different frameworks and perspectives, that they're bringing their disciplines and their knowledge to this conversation. And because of her training, our guest today saw things in scripture that Patrick and I had completely missed. And we believe that she has a great deal of comfort to offer all of us together as we do the work of raising new generations prepared to create peace. We know that we're bringing children up in a world that is particularly fractured right now, and sometimes it is of great comfort to us to find new knowledge in the scripture that helps us understand how we can guide people towards peace. We put a lot of consideration and care into how we raise our own children. And in a covenant community, we also share the responsibility for nurturing and protecting other people's children, young people within our wards and stakes. We all agree that we want to do our best for them. We want them to have lives that are characterized by righteousness, peace, prosperity, and hope. But what happens when that outcome is beyond our control? And we propose at the very beginning of this conversation that in spite of what we tell ourselves and want to believe, our children's lived experiences are always pretty much mostly beyond our control. So how can we, as a people filled with hope, come to trust that there are divine systems in place that will guide our children to a place of greater peace?

(03:08-04:44) Patrick Mason: Yeah, I think that's so well put because we've spent so much time talking about the struggles and challenges and conflicts that are evident within that first family that we read about within the Book of Mormon, Lehi and Sarai's family. And normally, I've read the Book of Mormon really focusing on the conflict between Laman and Lemuel and Nephi, right? That's so much of what we focus on. But we have to remember that there were other children as well. who came on. And we get these two sons, especially born in the wilderness, Jacob and Joseph. And they had a very different upbringing than their older brothers who had been raised in, it seems like, a certain level of wealth and comfort within Jerusalem. And so, they had the same parents, as their older brothers, but very different experiences. I think it's safe to say certain traumas that they experienced just by virtue of being born in the hardship that they had in the wilderness. And that trauma bears out. in their adulthood as well. It doesn't just end. And so, some of the most beloved scriptures that we have, take for instance, 2 Nephi 2, this is Lehi speaking to his son Jacob, and it's very much in the context of thinking about Jacob's experience being somebody who was born in the wilderness and born into struggle. I think it's really useful to think about these passages as the words of not only a prophet, but also a father to a child who has suffered.

(04:44-05:37) Jennifer Thomas: Waddoups

(05:37-05:38) Patrick Mason: Go USU.

(05:38-07:06) Jennifer Thomas: Shout out to Patrick. Over a decade later, after putting in some dedicated time as a mother, she returned to grad school for to get both a master's and a PhD in human development from Tufts University. She now has more than 20 years of experience in developmental science, focusing on development in challenging circumstances, infant parent mental health, and home visiting interventions. She's led programs, researched early development at Tufts University, and has consulted globally on early child development on kids in very difficult situations. She's also served on the faculty at Southern Virginia University and completed a postdoctoral appointment at Global Ties for Children and at NYU Abu Dhabi, where she worked on a project with one of my favorite organizations in the world, Sesame Workshop, and the International Rescue Committee that was working with refugees. Annie has recently brought all of that amazing experience to MWIC, where she is the Director of Child and Family Advocacy and the Director of Strategy. And you're going to see today how she melds beautifully an understanding of the scientific basis of how we develop and learn with an understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ. All of her work has been rooted in love of family, both her family of origin and the one she's created with her husband, Greg. Together, they have three grown children and two sons-in-law and two granddaughters. And we are so excited to have her with us today. Annie, welcome. We want to prime this conversation by asking you the question we ask all our guests, which is, how do you define peace?

(07:07-08:09) Annie Bentley Waddoups: It's such a good question. And I think for a lot of years, I went to this particular moment right after I graduated from high school, and I was relieved of all the pressures, and I had the best nap I'd have in years. And that felt peaceful and peace to me. I can identify the very spot in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. But as I have learned and grown, I've realized that peace is much more complex and has kind of a more elusive definition. And I think for me, I draw a lot from some of my studies in human development and think about peace being a zone, kind of a zone of sustainable connection and growth and meaning, ultimately connection to God, but on kind of a pragmatic level also to a person, to music, to nature. piece feels like a flowing adjustment to any of those toward kind of an inner equilibrium.

(08:09-08:52) Patrick Mason: Oh, that's fascinating. I love that definition. And I love that you think about it as this kind of zone, almost as a kind of a space or a place to be in rather than maybe like a state of being or a destination or something like that. And you mentioned the word development. And it seems that that could be really useful to think about Jacob and his ministry, this kind of space that he finds himself in. So I wonder if you could talk more based on your work, based on all of your expertise in terms of what kinds of environments or zones or spaces might be particularly conducive to the peace, especially of children as they develop.

(08:52-10:55) Annie Bentley Waddoups: Yeah. You know, this really, sort of screamed out at me as I was reading about Jacob and in particular, the fact that he was a child of the wilderness. And in developmental theory, most people have heard of the theory of attachment. And attachment means that ideally in a young person's life, there's a healthy blend of predictable safety and also exploration of nurture and challenge. And so I often think about like a toddler at the park And they're very drawn to explore and try out that new piece of equipment and maybe the one that's just a little bit harder than they should be on. But also running back or looking back to get safety and comfort from that secure base parent. And so hopefully most of the time, there's that kind of special adult that serves as that secure base. And it adds up over a number of months and years. And then, of course, this pattern over and over again reinforces a particular and very personal map about the world. And so, for instance, when I am distressed and if I'm a young baby or a child growing up, is there someone to help me regulate? Or if I'm in danger, do I have someone who will get close and protect me? Do I have the amount of freedom I need to learn and experience things that prepare me to thrive? Do I have enough challenge to kind of create growth and an accurate understanding of the world. And so all these answers kind of form this personal map that the theory calls an internal working model of the world. And that includes relationships of what we can expect from our environment and people within it. And so our systems are wonderfully designed to adapt to our circumstances in order to help us survive. And so that became especially salient as I was thinking about Jacob being born in the wilderness and wondering sort of the circumstances that he that he experienced as a young child.

(10:55-11:36) Jennifer Thomas: So Annie, I love this and it's clear from the way you've explained this why you think of peace as a zone because everything that you've sort of described for me isn't or for isn't just how children feel in a moment, but it's creating a world in which they move that is conducive to them feeling sort of at peace and having that equilibrium that you talked about. So what happens though, when there isn't enough safety predictability, when there isn't, or at least aren't people that can create that zone and build it into a childhood? when children don't get strong scaffolding or a perfect launch. How can we see that manifest itself in their view of the world?

(11:36-14:22) Annie Bentley Waddoups: As I said, the system is so beautiful in that it adapts. As a child learns and grows, it seems like there might be some things that might be dangers or maybe there isn't enough protection, then the child will develop some compensating elements that might be activated to protect the child's survival. That occurs down to to the brain synapses. So our brain is amazing that it sort of reconstitutes according to like the experience in the world and what is needed. And so again, for that child in the playground example, you know, maybe the safety of the situation limits exploration. And so the parent has to keep the child a little safer. Or maybe the stresses on the parent limit their ability to serve as a secure base. And so this affects their internal working model or their kind of working version of the world. And so that's one way that it shows up. And again, it might be that the world around the child is quite complex and even very stressed, but often the parent in that relationship can serve as a buffer and help the child regulate. In one research project that I worked on in the Middle East, we worked with a lot of Syrian refugee families. And it was really interesting because we had in those families, both children who were born in Syria, had experienced a stable home life and had grown to a certain point, and then the family had to take flight. And then there were other children in those families in the refugee camps who were born after that secure and kind of predictable, stable time. And you would think maybe, you know, going into it, I sort of wondered if it was harder on the kids who could remember what it was like and sort of struggled with that difference. But in actuality, it was the children who were born in that wilderness, who were born kind of with that instability, who really were challenged. And it's because, you know, those children who remember home and that sense of stability had a hope that that could return. But the children who were born in those really hard circumstances had nothing to compare it to and had established sort of in their hearts and minds that this is the way things are, that, you know, food may not always be available when needed, that their safety and their surroundings might be more unstable. And so they had adjusted, they had adapted some coping things that were totally appropriate for their circumstance, but not ideal, probably for most children, as you might guess.

(14:22-14:29) Jennifer Thomas: You had some fantastic insights about how this relates to Jacob, and we would love to have you share them with our listeners.

(14:29-17:20) Annie Bentley Waddoups: Yeah. I was thinking about Jacob, born in the wilderness, seems to be someone who adapted to the circumstances with a maybe anxiousness. And I think of Lehi and Sariah, they're these wonderful, goodly parents in hard circumstances. And so Jacob was born, like some of the families that I was acquainted with, in a wilderness, in basically in flight, without any knowledge of when it was going to end. And so I just think about that baby, you know, growing in the arms of his mom and sort of witnessing some of the ups and downs and really big trials and even, you know, quite a bit, probably trauma, watching his brothers go at it. And so he witnessed a lot of upheavals and conflict. And as I was reading Lehi's blessing to Jacob, I noticed some clues that gave me kind of some insight into maybe some of these ways that Jacob might have compensated in his development as a child of the wilderness. And I will just add, I found such confirmation as the truths of the Book of Mormon when I read this entirely kind of aligned behavior with the experience that I know of from developmental science. And so Jacob, he had, you probably remember this is back in second Nephi when when Lehi gives the blessings to his son. He starts out with Laman and Lemuel, and he gives them a lot of caution and warning. Awaken, arise. And then he turns to Jacob, and he starts by saying, thou art my firstborn in the days of my tribulation in the wilderness. And behold, in thy childhood thou hast suffered afflictions and much sorrow because of the rudeness of thy brethren. And then he goes on to kind of issue these very comforting, reassuring, confidence-building blessings on his son's head. And I think as parents, we can understand where he was coming from in feeling like this has not been easy for you. And I want to bless you with, with some reassurances. And I jotted down a couple, he was, he kind of said, I know that we're redeemed. He talked to him about redemption. He talked about men are that they might have joy. And to me, the undercurrent is Jacob is a son who's maybe experiencing some anxiousness and has sort of come up wondering, um, where his safety is. And Lehi is wanting to connect him with, uh, that resource that maybe he wasn't able to give and wanted to in blessing him with that, uh, both the knowledge of the savior and also of his divine connection to God.

(17:20-19:24) Patrick Mason: I think that's so interesting. And yeah, I think any good, careful reader of these first few books of the Book of Mormon will recognize there is a shift in tone and personality when we go from Nephi to Jacob, right? These are two different characters. They sound different. They orient to the world differently. And so, I love this insight that maybe some of that, you know, every person is different. Every kid in every family is different, right? But at least some of this, as you pointed to, even Lehi points to some of Jacob's personality may well have been shaped because of these circumstances that he was born into, the development that he went through. So let's think about it—we'll come back to Jake a bit, but let's think about it for a minute from the kind of parents standpoint, right? So I think about these parents that you've worked with. You know, nobody chooses to be a refugee. Nobody chooses to be, you know, driven from their homes and take their kids away from safety and security. You know, just the fact of the world that we live in is that most children, you know, maybe all children don't have optimal parents. I don't know that there's ever been perfect parents, right? My kids can swear testimonials to that. So even parents who are trying their best to protect their kids, to provide for their kids, they're just going to be areas where kids are vulnerable and sometimes get hurt. And so I think for parents, that can lead to a sense of guilt. it can lead to a sense of taking on that kind of responsibility. Am I responsible for these things that have happened to my kids where I can see that there have been harms done? So how do we think about that as parents? And in particular, especially if you're maybe right still in the middle of it, is repair possible? Is it possible to come back and address some of those suboptimal, both conditions, but also maybe behaviors, uh, as, as parents.

(19:24-21:51) Annie Bentley Waddoups: Yeah. And I think you're totally right. That's almost the very next thing that comes up every time. We teach this or every time we work with parents. Um, and so first I'd say, welcome to the club. Welcome to parenthood. You know, our mistakes are going to happen. And, um, and I, and I think you're right. I, I actually think. you know, having optimal parents might not even be very preferred. That might not be actually optimal because I think also those relationship mistakes serve a really good purpose too. And they build adaptability and nuance, understanding more about what it is to be human. So, you know, in addition to being adaptable, this kind of attachment system is also designed to thrive at sort of good enough levels and to be really open to improvement. And the other piece is, or related is, I think very reassuringly, we also know that there is great strength in repair, big and small. As you said, no parents are attuned to their needs all the time. And research shows that it is the moments of repair, of reconnection, of coming back, that further strengthening connection and the capacity for relationships and ultimately experiencing inner peace. If we had this rigid belief, you know, that our parents gave us, that everyone's going to be always perfect with us all the time, we would not be very good in other relationships. We would be, we would have that model of like, everyone does exactly what I need at every moment. But instead, um, you know, it's part of the whole design that we experience disattunement and disconnection and mistake, and then have the opportunity for repair. And as that happens, it's like this operating manual in our head kind of recalibrates to say, even when things don't go as planned, there's hope for repair. And so, you know, as parents, it's not the avoidance or the kind of trying to make sure there's no mistakes made, but it's perhaps focusing on that reconnection and connecting our children with ourselves and with other people and with things that will bring them that kind of repair and ultimately that inner peace.

(21:52-22:52) Patrick Mason: And maybe that's exactly what Lehi's doing with Jacob, right? And that sermon is, he's talking about repair. As you said, he's talking about redemption, right? How do we take these? He's talking about opposition, right? All of these kinds of things. He's not turning a blind eye to it. He recognizes that that is a feature, not a bug in Jacob's experience, but that he can't just wallow in the hardship, the opposition, that all of that becomes a kind of platform. But he has to have something to look forward to. He has to have something to hold on to. And of course, Lehi is presenting to him the Messiah and hope in a repair You know, you can't go back to Jerusalem sometimes. There's no going back. That ship has sailed, literally, right? But what does it look like given the circumstances and environment you have? Is that about right? Is that the kind of orientation here?

(22:52-24:44) Annie Bentley Waddoups: Yeah, absolutely. But it is sort of in that very act of having a fracture or of not meeting expectations or of not being perfect. And then that repair, that builds the confidence. And I also just can't help but think about the principle of repentance and how that is a turning back. And so it's that same sort of turning back to each other. I'll pull in another piece of scripture, story from scripture, because I also often think about the prodigal son in this way, because I think there's a bunch of repair happening in that as well. And the prodigal son, he has two sons. Christ never names which one is actually the prodigal, but, um, you know, the younger son had struggled with physical temptations and appetites and he was returning and he didn't need a lecture. He needed reassurance, comfort. He needed that secure base. He was coming back from being too far away on that pendulum and needed to be closer to home. And then the second son was kind of in this comfort close by place. And he struggled not with his physical appetites, but with kind of secondary temptations and choices, like how we feel relative to fairness and other people and what other people's decisions have done. And so he needed some gentle triving to move him out from his kind of comfort zone into some growth to kind of change his beliefs. And I think what's really beautiful is, you know, the father sensed this in each son. There was probably some repair that needed to be done between all three of them. But, um, I think that in our lives, we're all three, we, um, both seek and give repair in our relationships. And this never ending cycle gives us insight and compassion. So we learn how to love each other and access grace in allowing ourselves and others to mess up and repair.

(24:44-26:14) Jennifer Thomas: So Annie I'm just struck in all of this about how much we can learn from Lehigh and learn from the scriptures about parenting, and it's, it's very counter intuitive to the way we think about parenting today from a helicopter perspective right where we are just hovering over our children, trying to do everything we possibly can to kind of buffer from a fallen world. And in fact, we know that basically the plan of salvation involves our heavenly parents just sort of dropping us off on a street corner and being like, go make good choices, you know. And certainly, but always, always inviting us back. And one of the things that I love about this is that clearly what I hear you telling me, both on a temporal, a personal relationship, also on a spiritual relationship, that the strength comes when we return and try to repair those relationships. That it isn't just in being adjacent to someone, but we have to have gone through the process of kind of moving out and then recognizing the need, coming back in and repairing the relationship. And then the relationship is so much stronger than it would have been if we hadn't somehow left, right? And so that seems to me very much the plan of salvation is that it's this requirement that we move out into difficulty and then constantly go through that cycle of coming back over and over again until hopefully we arrive at the point of perfect repair and perfect return because we've been through that process and we kind of understand one another.

(26:14-28:39) Annie Bentley Waddoups: I love finding sort of these patterns nested you know, in our human design, in what we know about the gospel, and it does show up over and over again. And I think it kind of goes back to my definition of peace as sort of an equilibrium. We balance these two tensions, one for comfort and safety and nurture, and the other one for this exploration and trial. Again, like sent from our heavenly home to experience a world that is far, far away, that tension between these seemingly incompatible elements is actually a paradox that we are meant to experience. And that sometimes I even think that might be the straight and narrow way is that sort of adjusting balance between paradox, between comfort and challenge, safety and growth, justice and mercy. Lehigh said actually, I believe it was in that that portion, that blessing to Jacob, you know, all things must needs be compound in one. And I think we hold those, those pieces. And so this pattern of family relationships is another example of a larger pattern as we develop. And like you said, there's the scattering and the gathering, there's the falling away and the restoration, there's pride and humility. And so sort of on that grand, uh, doctrinal level, we see that. And I also think about that in our daily You know, we pray, which is sort of a secure base action, you know, a, a, an attachment habit with, with God. And then we get up and live our day and go about it. And then. As needed, we can consult and then we come back again to the secure base. And so there's this constant sort of out and in. Or even it just occurred to me, you know, the president Hinkley story about his troubling, you know, he's having trouble on his mission and he wrote home to his dad, which again, that's a very attachment, you know, like, I'm going to, I'm going to call my mom. I'm going to write to my dad and tell him, you know, like how hard things are. And, um, you know, his dad acknowledges it and then says, I think the word, the phrase was get up off your knees and get to work. And so I think those two things are where. sort of the best growth and relationship alchemy is.

(28:39-29:14) Patrick Mason: These last few comments that you've made leads me to ask, you know, we've been talking a lot about child development and these kinds of principles of child development, but especially in that answer, you're thinking about spiritual development for each of us. So where do you see Are there lessons that we can take from the world of child development and apply to our lives more generally, more broadly, even as adults in terms of spiritual development, the kinds of things that we do throughout our lives as we encounter the world?

(29:14-31:41) Annie Bentley Waddoups: Yeah, I think, you know, spiritual development is similar to other sort of frames of development, physical, emotional, moral. in that according to Piaget and others, there's this cycle of order, disorder, and then reorder. So we think we know the world. You know, a kid says everything with four legs is a dog. And then they encounter a cat and it rocks their world. Like what this, you know, this creature didn't say bow wow. It said meow. And then had to sort of, there was disorder and confusion. It had to reorder their world. Like, okay, now my world also includes that there are other kinds. And I think, you know, that's a very, very basic example. But it's, you know, in the in sort of the Piaget framework, it's exactly what happens cognitively. And I think the same thing happens spiritually. So it, you know, we're comfortable, and then something pushes us into disorder. And then we have to reorder. And I do think that's part of the plan. I think that's sort of that, you know, it parallels that pursuit of both a home sort of secure base and growth. But as we do that, we were in that zone, I guess, again, that I'm talking that I am thinking of when I think of peace, which is something drawing us forward. There's direction, there's meaning, and there's connection. And so I think also what's really beautiful is, you know, I often think about people who didn't have parents, you know, as adults, they're looking back and feeling like I didn't have a parent I needed. I think another beautiful principle is that in fact, our heavenly parents know perfectly how to parent or reparent us in the ways that we need in order to seek and establish peace. And I think that's, again, not to sort of belabor the point, but again, sometimes what's needed might be a challenge or, you know, the world having its work on you in sort of encouraging growth. But sometimes what is needed is that secure, loving rest in coming unto Christ. And I think that going back to Jacob, he cultivates and experiences that connective relationship with God that helps heal him too. I think he finds that with God.

(31:41-33:12) Jennifer Thomas: So I was so struck just as you were talking about the fact that we don't know what Jacob's relationship was with Lehi. assume it was quite close, but we also know that this is a family that was fairly fractured. But it strikes me that this is Lehi's final blessing to Jacob. And whether it sounds like Jacob was fairly attached to Lehi, they had a close relationship, you know, Lehi could give transmit to him some knowledge that he thought was important for Jacob to have, but we also know that Lehi's leaving. And Lehi clearly knows that he's leaving, right? He's dying. And what's so interesting to me that in that situation, he tries to reinforce the transfer of the attachment for Jacob to something beyond him, to God, to Christ, who's able to kind of help him. And so I'm wondering if you can kind of share with us what you think it looks like to have in this kind of fallen world, in these difficult situations in which we find ourselves going through this process of order, disorder, and reorder, how we can develop a secure attachment relationship with God and how we can foster that in our children. Because it seems to me that that's one of the best gifts that we can give them. We know that to some degree we're going to fail them, even if it just means that at some point we're going to leave. It seems like it's very important for us to help them develop this bigger attachment relationship to God as they go on this spiritual journey. I'm just wondering if you'd share your thoughts about that with us.

(33:12-35:46) Annie Bentley Waddoups: That's such a good question. Before I answer that, I also have in mind that a lot of times people's concept of God is built on their concept of their parent. Sometimes when you've had an experience of a loving father who responded in ways that you needed, it's maybe easy to think about a loving heavenly father who also has your best interests in mind. Yeah. Um, and so I, I do, you know, we do know from the research that, you know, having a good and secure attachment to someone, um, increases your capacity to do that with others. Because again, you've got that working map in your mind about how relationships work. And so, um, I think, um, In times where, um, so one way to help your children have an attachment relationship with God, of course, is to, um, is to model that and to also, um, to introduce them to a loving pattern of response and forgiveness and repentance. But absent that, um, I think what's so, um, you know, as I was referring to earlier, I feel like. Heavenly Father, Heavenly Parents know what we need. And so as parents, we are also given that sort of divine connection. We can be like Lehi. And even having not been able to give our children maybe at the time what they needed or what you hoped to have been available or to buffer in ways that you hoped to, we still have access to, through that stewardship, the influence of the spirit and to knowing how best to, to succor. And in that way, it refines us too, as people. Um, we come to know a little bit more closely what it is to, to learn the healer's art, to be, um, to sacrifice and to be humble, to really, you know, sort of, I think some of my most humbling times have been as a parent where I realized I was completely wrong and wish I had done it differently and can't go back now, but I can own that now and, um, and move forward, you know, with that identification and, and sort of that pure, uh, sort of candid desire to repair.

(35:47-36:24) Patrick Mason: Yeah. So, let's come back to Jacob for a moment. And we see him, especially in the book of Jacob, he's become a leader of the community. He's a priest, he's teaching the people, he has clear moral authority that's been given to him from Nephi. How, as you read these texts, how do you think that Jacob's difficult experiences that he had as a young man gave him the temperament and otherwise helped prepare him to be an effective leader, the kind of leader that the Nephites needed?

(36:24-39:33) Annie Bentley Waddoups: Yeah, I found this to be so moving. And again, I think I just felt like I became acquainted with Jacob in that way, where he felt 3D, like he had very real struggles that we kind of inferred and read about. And again, I don't know a lot of the details, but using some of the, uh, what we know about relationships and, um, you know, what I found in the, in his leadership was that he was able to identify what his people needed. So he sort of uses his superpower, which was born in the wilderness. And it was almost maybe a hyper attunement. or vigilance, you know, in those early chapters of Jacob, he says over and over, I started marking all of these sort of, you know, his own indication of his, you know, faith and anxiety, his take it upon me to fulfill the commandment of my brother. He takes everything very seriously and very, you know, he feels it heavily and he wants to do the right thing. And sometimes it feels like he's white knuckling it almost. And yet, I think that it was this very kind of attunement, which he developed. I would, you know, maybe suggest in the wilderness, you know, watching sort of some moody interchanges with his brothers and needing to kind of get the emotional weather all the time. He's able to discern. So add to that his very clear testimony and closeness with with God, he's able to discern the needs in really interesting ways. I think he notes, this is the first time I noticed, but he basically says, you're doing great, but I can tell your thoughts and you're beginning to labor in sin. And I don't know how often a prophet does that. I mean, quite often, right? They have some insights into a people, but he wasn't even saying you have been doing these bad things. He said, I can tell, it was in Jacob two, verse four and five. I can tell concerning your thoughts, how you're beginning to labor in sin. And so because of his experience, perhaps of needing to adapt, you know, and use, he uses his anxiety basically for this attunement. And he's been able through this calibration to understand. Um, what's happening. And also he doesn't want to be the bad cop here. He's, you know, he's having to deliver, deliver a message about pride and chastity that he doesn't want to deliver here in, um, Jacob too, but he does it. And his, um, message sort of echoes. Lehigh's to him, I think, which is, you know, weaknesses can become strong. Grace makes it possible being reconciled is important through the atonement. And so he always provides that. sort of that way back and that repair message, which I think he has himself drawn on. So I love that. I love seeing sort of him rise to the occasion in his very particular personality and very Jacob way.

(39:34-42:54) Jennifer Thomas: I love this idea that this anxiety that is part of his temperament allows Jacob to see around corners. It gives him the opportunity to see things that are happening in his community that other people might be complacent about if their baseline is a lot less anxious. We assume that the children that have come after have been raised in somewhat some more stability than Jacob. They are in the promised land, they're building a community. We have record right up front that they've begun to prosper, that they have set up this very thriving community. They're coming at the world very differently than Jacob did. I love this insight that you have that because of the struggles that Jacob went through as a child, he was in a better place to see problems arising because he had this heightened attunement. And one of the things that I loved about this as I was thinking about it was this idea that I have this tendency to have a pretty significant reverence for people who have committed great sin and have pivoted their lives and have this ability to kind of draw on the atonement in ways that that those who don't can't. Like if you have truly drawn on the atonement because you have made so many deep errors in your life, those people tend to have an incredible witness of Christ and the power of, you know, cleansing and healing. But one of the things that your reading of Jacob has led me to realize is just this profound witness of this promise that we have in Alma 7, that Christ is also there for us in all of our extremities. And I think that Jacob's extremities, this, you know, this call that came from Lehi, Jacob heeded. He said, listen, your way forward out of this anxiety, out of this trauma is Christ. And Jacob did that. And it seems that he comes out of this with a robust testimony of Christ's power to heal that is as robust as the testimonies that come from people who have sinned. And that was just such a lovely idea to me that We can come to this very profound witness of the healing power of the atonement in different ways and that Christ meets us where we're broken and he heals us where we're broken. And to me, it was very, very much a witness to this concept that you have of repair. that it is whatever it is about us that is broken, it's going to be different for different people. But if we take it to the Savior, if we lay it before him, if we return to him, if we try to attach to him, that that repair takes place and can make us just extraordinarily strong. So this was just one of the things I loved about your reading of Jacob because I just think, oh, Jacob was just this masterful human who managed to figure out to have this glorious vision of the atonement and of the Savior. I realized, no, Jacob paid for this. He didn't just pay for it probably in study and prayer, which I'm sure he did, but he paid for it through suffering. That was just a beautiful idea to me that repair is so possible and that Jacob is a glorious example of that repair.

(42:54-45:08) Annie Bentley Waddoups: Yeah. I love that in Jacob 7, I believe, you know, after he has that, uh, exchange, after he has the exchange with Sherem and Sherem, like speaking of somebody who sort of has to come to grips with, with some things he's doing wrong, but it came to pass that peace and the love of God was restored. And even then Jacob was still, you know, as he, his last words are sort of melancholy and like, well, it passes though it were a dream. And later his son, uh, does sort of Enos speaks up to say, um, you know, my father was a just man and he's taught me in the language and in the nurture and admonition of the Lord and blessed be the name of my God for it. And so I, you know, I think another takeaway is we don't always know the impact that we're having as we're very real and using our own strengths and weaknesses. We don't know the impact that we're making always, and that's okay. And I think to your point about the ability to sort of adapt and grow and access, even in the face of imperfect people, imperfect qualities in ourselves, imperfect circumstances. I really love the Martin Luther King quote that is, the arc of history is long and bends toward justice. And I think I often revise that in my head with apologies to Martin Luther King. And that is that I've come to believe that the arc of eternity is long and it bends toward development facilitated by grace. What I love about this Jacob story is it really articulates some of the things that I've noticed as I've studied in my work and as a believing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that our human systems, emotional, physical, cognitive, relational, all operate with this built-in level of grace for imperfect circumstances and people. And at the same time with this sort of inherent setting towards growth and healing and connection that perfectly echoes that doctrine of Christ, the Book of Mormon echoes. So that's where it kind of comes together for me.

(45:08-46:26) Patrick Mason: That's terrific. And I love the way you sort of ended that. And as we reflect on peace and going back to your earlier definition, that sometimes there can be the sense that peace is the point at which we're sort of beyond struggle. It's some kind of destination on or past the horizon. And I think what you've helped us understand, you know, through your reading of these texts and through all of your research and work over the years, is to realize that actually peace can be found in and through the process, that the human development is its own kind of peace. that can come, that it's about growth, that's about kind of having an orientation towards some of those challenges that we might face, rather than just like, I have to get through this so that I can achieve peace at some vague point in the future. So I think that's really useful. So as we wrap up, we just want to give you the chance to offer any other thoughts, but especially we'd love to hear you reflect on where you personally find peace in your life.

(46:26-47:23) Annie Bentley Waddoups: So I personally find peace often, again, like it's going to be very consistent with what I've said already, but I find peace in a place where I can use myself but know where I'm going. And so that's sort of, um, it's not, I kind of think about what peace isn't. So when I am restless, because I. I'm not sure what to do. Um, the way I find peace or restore peace is coming back to who I am and what the meaning is. So ultimately the gospel of Jesus Christ, but, but in a very like pragmatic way, it's. It's recalibrating sort of where I am and where I'm going. So I can find it anywhere as long as I kind of have those things in mind.

(47:23-47:51) Jennifer Thomas: Well, I love that idea, Annie, of peace is not something static, but forward motion, right? That it's us moving forward with a sense of who we are towards kind of what God would have us do. And I think that is a source of extraordinary peace. So thank you. Thank you for joining us today. We really appreciate you sharing your insights with us. They've been magnificent. Yeah, thank you. Thanks. Hope for parents and children everywhere. There is a system built for our success.

(47:55-48:14) Patrick Mason: Thanks everybody for listening today. We really appreciate it. We just want to invite you to subscribe to the podcast and also to rate and review it. We love hearing feedback from listeners, so please email us at podcast at mweg.org. We also want to invite you to think about ways that you can make peace in your life this week. Thanks for listening and we'll see you next time.

(48:19-48:35) Jennifer Thomas: Thank you for listening to Proclaim Peace, a proud member of the Faith Matters Podcast Network. Faith Matters holds expansive conversations about the restored gospel to accompany individuals on their journey of faith. You can learn more about Faith Matters and check out our other shows at faithmatters.org.

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