Sunday, May 3, 2015

Are our Burdens Burdens or Blessings in Disguise?

Last week I felt that my burdens were unfairly placed and just to heavy to bear.  It was a really long and icky week.  I then had a friend who called to let me know how her life had been going and how unfair and heavy her burdens were also.  As I listened to her I found my mind going in two different directions.
In one direction I found myself thinking about "Molly Mormon" and then in the other direction I found myself thinking about a passage in Mosiah:

"For Amulon knew Alma , that he had been one of the King's priests,
and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was
driven out before the king, and therefore he was wroth with him;
for he was subject to King Laman, yet he exercised authority over them,
and put tasks upon them, and put taskmasters over them.
And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions
that they began to cry mightily to God.
And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries;
and he put guards over them to watch them,
that whosoever should be found calling upon God
should be put to death.
And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the their God,
but did pour out their hearts to him;
and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them 
in their afflictions, saying:
Lift up your heads and be of good comfort,
for I know the covenant which ye have made unto me;
and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
And I will ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders
that even you cannot feel them upon your backs...
This will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, 
and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God,
do visit my people in their afflictions."

That passage of scripture stayed with me for two days and like the puzzles Heavenly Father has given me in the past with a piece here and there, I found myself missing enough pieces of this puzzle to know what He was trying to teach me with those verses.

Today in Relief Society the lesson was based on Elder Bednar's talk:

 "Bear up their Burdens with Ease"

As soon as the teacher spoke the title the Spirit started whispering and all the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place and hence here I am.

The teacher started by asking us to think about our burdens which are heavy to carry.
 Instantly Childlessness came into my mind along with some other heavy burdens that I have had to bear over the years but the childlessness continues to be there and will always be there.
She then asked if we looked at out burdens as burdens and just let them weigh us down to where we were not able to move forward or back or did we view our burdens as a blessing?
I can honestly say there was a period of time in my life where my childlessness hindered me and I was not moving.  I was stagnant and dying a little inside each and every passing day. 
When I first went to the temple a healing began and as I have searched out lessons on the Atonement I can honestly now say that my being childless has brought some amazing blessings that I would have missed out on if I had been allowed to carry our children.
I then shared with my sister's what amazing blessings I witness through my friends and their children and now their grand-children but for me, my blessings though different were just as amazing.
I then closed with yes, I still have my days when I am reduced to tears because of my hearts desire to be mother but unlike my previous years I keep moving forward one day at a time one step at time.

We had a wonderful discussion and after class I was able to have a discussion with a member of the Branch Presidency where we discussed how everyone has their burdens to bear and how to each and everyone of us those burdens are "so very heavy and woe is me and no one understands." 
No, we as brother's and sister's in this wonderful gospel may not understand the burdens our fellow brothers and sisters carry but there is one who totally understands and that is our Lord and Savior because he descended beneath all things.  He knows and He understands.

Our teacher then closed with the scripper about the Lord will not give us more than we can handle and she made this comment, "He may take us right to the edge but He will not let us fall." 

 I was instantly taken back to Nov. 1998.  My 90 year old popper's had been sent home to die. 
 My 89 year old mother was in the hospital where our trusted doc told me that she would not make it through the night.  My husband was back East somewhere and I was all alone. 
 I remember crying out to our beloved Doc to "shoot me now, my popper's is home dying and my mom is here dying.  I can't bear to lose both my parents at once." 
He told me to go home and worry about my popper's and to trust him that he would take care of my mother.

I was at the edge. 

A woman would stop by at least once a day to check on me (that woman is now my true blue friend.)  Nov. 30th my beloved popper's was called home and my mom was still in the hospital deciding why she needed to stay and not go with my poppers. 
 Dec 2nd she was strong enough that we could plan the service for my poppers.

Years later my true blue friend told me that the reason she stopped by was because she was so worried about me.  She knew I had no family support and I was so frazzled that she just knew I was going to go off the deep end and she wanted to be close by to throw me a rope.

I remember looking at her and sharing with her that same scripture that was shared by our teacher today.  I testified to her that "Yes, the Lord had taken me right to the edge of my endurance but before I toppled over the edge He called my popper's home."
There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord will visit us in our afflictions and I know that during the year I taught and took care of my popper's the Lord eased my burdens and my heart was full of comfort and my head was lifted. 
Those of you who have prepared to attend the temple know of the great adversity that comes before that great great blessing. 
 I have heard that missionaries preparing for their mission also face that great adversity. 

As I have continued to grow in the Gospel I hate to admit it but I am so very grateful for the burdens that were placed and continue to be placed upon my back because as our teacher and Elder Bednar said, it has given me "the Spiritual traction" to keep moving forward.

May we as follow the example of Alma and his people when we find our burdens are to heavy to bear
and since Elder Bednar is much more articulate than me I will close with his talk which inspired this blog and a great Relief Society lesson.

The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.

I have a dear friend who, in the early years of his marriage, was convinced he and his family needed a four-wheel-drive pickup truck. His wife was sure that he did not need but merely wanted the new vehicle. A playful conversation between this husband and wife initiated their consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of such a purchase.
“Sweetheart, we need a four-wheel-drive truck.”
She asked, “Why do you think we need a new truck?”
He answered her question with what he believed was the perfect response: “What if we needed milk for our children in a terrible storm, and the only way I could get to the grocery store was in a pickup?”
His wife replied with a smile, “If we buy a new truck, we will not have money for milk—so why worry about getting to the store in an emergency!”
Over time they continued to counsel together and ultimately decided to acquire the truck. Shortly after taking possession of the new vehicle, my friend wanted to demonstrate the utility of the truck and validate his reasons for wanting to purchase it. So he decided he would cut and haul a supply of firewood for their home. It was in the autumn of the year, and snow already had fallen in the mountains where he intended to find wood. As he drove up the mountainside, the snow gradually became deeper and deeper. My friend recognized the slick road conditions presented a risk, but with great confidence in the new truck, he kept going.
Sadly, my friend went too far along the snowy road. As he steered the truck off of the road at the place he had determined to cut wood, he got stuck. All four of the wheels on the new truck spun in the snow. He readily recognized that he did not know what to do to extricate himself from this dangerous situation. He was embarrassed and worried.
My friend decided, “Well, I will not just sit here.” He climbed out of the vehicle and started cutting wood. He completely filled the back of the truck with the heavy load. And then my friend determined he would try driving out of the snow one more time. As he put the pickup into gear and applied power, he started to inch forward. Slowly the truck moved out of the snow and back onto the road. He finally was free to go home, a happy and humbled man.

Our Individual Load

I pray for the assistance of the Holy Ghost as I emphasize vital lessons that can be learned from this story about my friend, the truck, and the wood. It was the load. It was the load of wood that provided the traction necessary for him to get out of the snow, to get back on the road, and to move forward. It was the load that enabled him to return to his family and his home.
Each of us also carries a load. Our individual load is comprised of demands and opportunities, obligations and privileges, afflictions and blessings, and options and constraints. Two guiding questions can be helpful as we periodically and prayerfully assess our load: “Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the strait and narrow path and avoid getting stuck? Is the load I am carrying creating sufficient spiritual traction so I ultimately can return home to Heavenly Father?”
Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.

The Strengthening Power of the Atonement

The Savior said:
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals that enables them to pull together on a load. A yoke places animals side-by-side so they can move together in order to accomplish a task.
Consider the Lord’s uniquely individual invitation to “take my yoke upon you.” Making and keeping sacred covenants yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own” (“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, no. 220). As the Lord declared, “Therefore, continue your journey and let your hearts rejoice; for behold, and lo, I am with you even unto the end” (D&C 100:12).
Consider the example in the Book of Mormon as Amulon persecuted Alma and his people. The voice of the Lord came to these disciples in their afflictions: “Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage” (Mosiah 24:13).
Note the centrality of covenants to the promise of deliverance. Covenants received and honored with integrity and ordinances performed by proper priesthood authority are necessary to receive all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For in the ordinances of the priesthood, the power of godliness is manifest unto men and women in the flesh, including the blessings of the Atonement (see D&C 84:20–21).
Recall the Savior’s statement “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30) as we consider the next verse in the account of Alma and his people.
“And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs” (Mosiah 24:14).
Many of us may assume this scripture is suggesting that a burden suddenly and permanently will be taken away. The next verse, however, describes how the burden was eased.
“And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea,the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15; emphasis added).
The challenges and difficulties were not immediately removed from the people. But Alma and his followers were strengthened, and their increased capacity made the burdens lighter. These good people were empowered through the Atonement to act as agents (see D&C 58:26–29) and impact their circumstances. And “in the strength of the Lord” (Words of Mormon 1:14Mosiah 9:1710:10Alma 20:4), Alma and his people were directed to safety in the land of Zarahemla.
Not only does the Atonement of Jesus Christ overcome the effects of the Fall of Adam and make possible the remission of our individual sins and transgressions, but His Atonement also enables us to do good and become better in ways that stretch far beyond our mortal capacities. Most of us know that when we do things wrong and need help to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, the Savior has made it possible for us to become clean through His redeeming power. But do we also understand that the Atonement is for faithful men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully? I wonder if we fail to fully acknowledge this strengthening aspect of the Atonement in our lives and mistakenly believe we must carry our load all alone—through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline and with our obviously limited capacities.
It is one thing to know that Jesus Christ came to the earth to die for us. But we also need to appreciate that the Lord desires, through His Atonement and by the power of the Holy Ghost, to enliven us—not only to guide but also to strengthen and heal us.

The Savior Succors His People

Alma explains why and how the Savior can enable us:
“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:11–12).
Thus, the Savior has suffered not just for our sins and iniquities—but also for our physical pains and anguish, our weaknesses and shortcomings, our fears and frustrations, our disappointments and discouragement, our regrets and remorse, our despair and desperation, the injustices and inequities we experience, and the emotional distresses that beset us.
There is no physical pain, no spiritual wound, no anguish of soul or heartache, no infirmity or weakness you or I ever confront in mortality that the Savior did not experience first. In a moment of weakness we may cry out, “No one knows what it is like. No one understands.” But the Son of God perfectly knows and understands, for He has felt and borne our individual burdens. And because of His infinite and eternal sacrifice (see Alma 34:14), He has perfect empathy and can extend to us His arm of mercy. He can reach out, touch, succor, heal, and strengthen us to be more than we could ever be and help us to do that which we could never do relying only upon our own power. Indeed, His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

An Invitation, a Promise, and a Testimony

I invite you to study, pray, ponder, and strive to learn more about the Savior’s Atonement as you assess your individual load. Many things about the Atonement we simply cannot comprehend with our mortal minds. But many aspects of the Atonement we can and need to understand.
For my friend, the load of wood provided life-saving traction. The empty truck could not move through the snow, even equipped with four-wheel drive. A heavy load was necessary to produce traction.
It was the load. It was the load that provided the traction that enabled my friend to get unstuck, to get back on the road, to press forward, and to return to his family.
The unique burdens in each of our lives help us to rely upon the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah (see 2 Nephi 2:8). I testify and promise the Savior will help us to bear up our burdens with ease (see Mosiah 24:15). As we are yoked with Him through sacred covenants and receive the enabling power of His Atonement in our lives, we increasingly will seek to understand and live according to His will. We also will pray for the strength to learn from, change, or accept our circumstances rather than praying relentlessly for God to change our circumstances according to our will. We will become agents who act rather than objects that are acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:14). We will be blessed with spiritual traction.
May each of us do and become better through the Savior’s Atonement. Today is April 6. We know by revelation that today is the actual and accurate date of the Savior’s birth. April 6 also is the day on which The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized. (See D&C 20:1; Harold B. Lee, “Strengthen the Stakes of Zion,” Ensign, July 1973, 2; Spencer W. Kimball, “Why Call Me Lord, Lord, and Do Not the Things Which I Say?” Ensign, May 1975, 4; Spencer W. Kimball, “Remarks and Dedication of the Fayette, New York, Buildings,” Ensign, May 1980, 54; Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley, Volume 1: 1995–1999 [2005], 409.) On this special and sacred Sabbath day, I declare my witness that Jesus the Christ is our Redeemer. He lives and will cleanse, heal, guide, protect, and strengthen us. Of these things I joyfully testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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