Burdens Made Light

You know what it’s like when life takes over and you don’t have time to do anything other than breathe?

Yeah… that.

Today I had a list of things I needed/wanted to do.

  1. Go to Home Depot and Walmart to pick up things like screws, a snake for a clogged toilet, garbage bags, cereal, etc.
  2. Unclog the toilet
  3. Clean the kitchen
  4. Go through my stuff to get ready for a garage sale on Saturday
  5. Figure out how to put the car up on the jack so I can diagnose a weird sound that happens when I turn
  6. Go for a run at some point today
  7. Any other number of things that need to be done.

Instead, I am sitting on my couch, icing a very painful foot, and writing a long overdue blog post.

Baby number six has been a game changer!  I should have known she would put me through the wringer when she proved to be my most challenging baby since the day my morning sickness reared it’s ugly head.  She’s now almost a year old and that reputation still holds true.

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The addition of this little angel and the growth of her five older siblings has required that the Wilson family make some changes.  There was just no way for me to keep up the same pace as I have for the last however many years.

In addition to the small army I’m raising, Matt’s schedule is absolutely horrendous.  It’s never been as good as when he was working two and a half days a week, but they call them “residents” for a reason.  These doctors live at the hospital.  Last month he was working Friday through Wednesday 7pm-10am on average and it was always go go go all night long.  The poor guy would get home just before lunch, sleep for just a few hours, spend some time with me and the kids, then have to leave again just before dinner.  He would show up to sacrament meeting in his scrubs and white coat, fall asleep in the pew and then go home to sleep right after the meeting ended.  I can’t tell you how much I miss him.  He’s not working nights anymore but he’s still working 16 hour days Monday through Saturday and has to be out of the house before 4am in order to make it to work on time (this morning it was just after 3am).

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I’m not going to pretend that I have it worse than he does because I don’t.  If our roles were reversed I could not survive with that much stress coupled with that little sleep and food.  But it does mean that all of those little jobs that I usually leave for him to do, will now need to be done by me.  Jobs like working on the car, moving around furniture, and cleaning out the garage.  I know I’m perfectly capable of changing my own oil or installing a stereo, but I don’t already know how to do it… and that makes me a little nervous :/

So anyway, I have been trying to figure out how to simplify and make my life easier for the last two years but it’s only been in the last month or so that I’ve really hit on the key.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ.

At first blush, it doesn’t seem much like the Atonement would help me with my time management skills, homemaking, and weight loss, but it does.

In 1988 President Ezra Taft Benson, a prophet of God, said:

When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities.

We should put God ahead of everyone else in our lives.

In Little Women, when Amy is banished to Aunt March’s house while Beth is sick, Amy found great comfort in the creation of a spot for her to worship and meditate privately.  She filled a small closet with things that she found comforting and reminded her of Heavenly Father’s love.

…for being left alone outside the safe home nest, she felt the need of some kind hand to hold by so sorely that she instinctively turned to the strong and tender Friend, whose fatherly love most closely surrounds His little children. She missed her mother’s help to understand and rule herself, but having been taught where to look, she did her best to find the way and walk in it confidingly.

Since I reread Little Women earlier this year this vignette about Amy and her little chapel I’ve been inspired to create my own little space for me to be able to spend some daily quiet time with my Savior.  I cleaned out a corner of my bedroom, put a place to sit and a little bookcase.  I am also waiting anxiously for this picture to arrive on my doorstep.

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It’s in this corner every morning, before I leave my room, that I pray, study my scriptures, and write in my journal.  Among other things I pray for guidance and discernment to know which things He wants me to focus on that day.  When I listen, my days are so much more calm.  When I don’t… well, let’s just say it’s amazing how many times one can cry in a single day.

It’s not that I have more energy, or all of a sudden there are fewer demands on my time, not at all.  But the things that aren’t as important don’t weigh on me as much.  The mess doesn’t bother as much, I don’t feel compelled to check my email as often, I don’t care as much about the extra pounds I’m still carrying, and I’m much more forgiving of myself with the multitude of insecurities that up to now have bombarded me on a daily basis.  When I am filled with God’s grace, Satan’s lies no longer weigh on my soul.

When I’m filled with the Sprit of God, this

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And this

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And this

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Well, they just don’t bother me as much.  That, is a miracle in and of itself.

If you are curious to know what the Lord has asked me to purge from my life I would be happy to tell you :)

1. I canceled my gym membership.  I don’t like lifting weights, doing the elliptical, aerobics, swimming (since I can’t listen to my books), or anything else that requires a gym membership.  I can tolerate weights if I am listening to my books, but with six kids including Alice it was just too complicated and time consuming to go to the gym.  Lifting weights at home isn’t realistic and I also hate doing exercise videos.  I have too many things to do to spend so much time doing something I hate.

But you know what I love?  I love running.  I LOVE running!  So I run.  Or rather, I TRY to run.  I have some nagging injuries that need to be babied and it’s incredibly frustrating trying to get back into shape after being pregnant and lazy, but I’m doing it.  I try and get out the door a few times a week and if I don’t… well I don’t.  I’m not an olympian, I don’t need to stress about it.

2. I stopped dieting.  That’s right.  No more.  I have been very successful with portion control in the past and from experience I know that my portions are only out of control when I’m stressed.  When I stay close to the Lord, I’m not stressed and can make smarter decisions with food.  If I turn to my Savior when I am having a bad day, or when I’m worried, or panicking, I don’t need to turn to food.  He will heal me.  Chocolate (while yummy) will not.  So the best thing I can do to get down to a healthy and satisfying weight is to process my emotions instead of running from them, and to find the comfort I am seeking within the arms of Christ’s love.

I lost several pounds in one month by strengthening my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  Then I gained a few back in two weeks of stressing/obsessing about my car.  Once I surrendered my will with His, I wiped the chocolate off my face, felt at peace, and no longer turned to what was in the refrigerator for love and approval.  I don’t count calories, I don’t restrict my food choices.  I don’t need to.  I still allow myself dessert and bread and all other foods that I want, but when I am consistently inviting the Spirit of God into my heart, I don’t feel the need to binge.

3. “Sell the Car!!” a la Dave Ramsey.  A few weeks ago Matt and I had a hiccup with our paycheck.  While we were able to get it straightened out, Matt and I decided to view that moment of panic as a Tender Mercy of the Lord.

We feel as if He is telling us to get our financial house in order.  We took a long, hard look at our budget and cut it big time.  We cut back on music lessons (thankfully we haven’t needed to eliminate them entirely), canceled Netflix and a few other small monthly subscriptions, and we decided to sell the car we bought new last year.  We did not come to this decision lightly and for two weeks I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.  As my car was the one in question, Matt felt that I needed to decide on my own what to do.  I ran through every possible scenario in my head and in the budget.  I searched for replacement cars everywhere.  We needed something that we could buy with cash (his bonus had just come in), could fit all eight of us, could also fit luggage and groceries.  That left us with two options, a full size van or a suburban.  We already have a full size van, but as it’s 30 years old, it’s not something that I can rely on to get my six kids and me from point A to point B without problems (even if it does get 20+ miles to the gallon).  I’ve been stranded more than once with all of my kids and I really didn’t want to buy something just as bad, even if it was inexpensive (that was why we bought the odyssey to begin with).

This was the stretch of time in which I gained back a few of the pounds I had lost.  I kept thinking that I was inviting the spirit.  I kept thinking that I was asking for the Lord’s guidance.  But one day I finally let go.  I wasn’t surrendering my will to His.  I wasn’t giving Christ my burden after all.  I was clutching it greedily, all the while asking that he rip it from my white knuckled grasp.  That’s not exactly how it’s supposed to work.  Later that day I posted this on Facebook

I’m so grateful for the power of prayer. The last few days I’ve felt like I’ve had the weight of the world on my shoulders over something silly that most people wouldn’t think was important at all. After several days of changing my mind over and over again as to what direction we should go and after shedding many tears on the subject, I finally submitted my will to the Lord’s and pleaded for comfort and direction. Which I was imediately given. Our Savior know us and loves us and he cares about the little things in our lives. Even something as simple as a car purchase.

It was as if my Father held me close and chuckled as he patted my head, saying, “You should have come to me in the first place.  It doesn’t matter what car you buy.  Just don’t go crazy, ok?  Take a few days off from car shopping and spend some time with those wonderful kids.  Then decide what you want and I’ll provide for you.  Trust me.”

Less than a week later we found exactly what we were looking for (like, EXACTLY, even with all of the rare things we wanted).

Selling the Odyssey was another tender mercy.  We mentioned that we were planning on selling my car to Matt’s parents.  They suggested that we contact Matt’s sister, who was expecting baby number six.  As it so happens we were selling the exact model they were looking for.  They were thrilled to find exactly what they wanted from someone they could trust hadn’t smoked in it, let their pets rip it up, or drag raced in it.  Not only does God answer our prayers, but sometimes He answers two prayers at once!

4. Set myself up for success.  Admittedly this is less about the Lord and more about me.  I have tried to change the way I view myself and get rid of certain expectations that were setting me up for failure.  I’ll share more about that some other time.

Here’s the thing, I was already doing all of the “right things”.  I was already reading my scriptures, and going to church, and praying daily.  I was already serving my fellow man the best I could.  I was DOING everything that was asked of me.  But I wasn’t feeling what I was supposed to be feeling.  By “forgetting myself and going to work”, I had neglected my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  Without accepting the help He was willing and able to give me, my daily life had become unmanageable and unbearable.  Only after I admitted to Him (and myself) how utterly powerless I am to handle everything (or anything) on my own, did things start to get better.  Those “Sunday school” answers didn’t do me much good because my heart wasn’t in it.

So while my blog hasn’t been busy, I certainly have been.  I spent a year and a half spinning my wheels, allowing everything else to distract me from the One who matters most.  Elder Bednar, in April of 2014 said:

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.

My load has not gotten any lighter.  I still have six children.  I still homeschool.  My sweet husband is still going through a very difficult and time consuming residency.  I still have hobbies I like to pursue and I’m also going back to school this fall.  Life hasn’t gotten any simpler.  But when I allow Him, my Savior helps me carry those burdens.  He takes as much of the load as I need Him to –and some days, that means He carries me in addition to my entire load.

Our Savior isn’t there just to save us from our sins after all is said and done.  He’s here now.  Waiting for us to save us from any burden, any heartache, any trial, that we are feeling this moment.  All we have to do is ask.

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…

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…

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.

I testify that Elder Bednar is a living apostle of God, that his words are inspired, and that his promise is true.  I can also testify and promise that “the Savior will help us to bear our burdens with ease” and I pray that you will also allow Him to carry your burdens as he has carried mine. and that you allow Him to show you just how much He loves you.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Jennifer says:

    Courtney, I absolutely love this post. There was so much in it that I needed right now. Thank you for taking the time to write it. I’m so glad we’re friends :)

    Like

  2. Laurie says:

    Thank you so much for this. This is exactly what I needed to hear tonight!!

    Like

  3. Michelle says:

    THANK YOU so much for posting this. I can see I’m also not the only one who needed it. You are absolutely incredible. I hope our paths can cross in person some day. I will be referring back to this post often as I try to figure out the best way to carry my own load. THANK YOU.

    Like

  4. Katie Laws says:

    So, first of all, I am thrilled to have found your site (through a couple followed links on facebook). I’m also an LDS, homeschooling mama! We’ve also been considering selling our van. Long story short, I found out I was pregnant (with #4 so we needed to up-size our vehicle) so we got a new sienna. Then I had another miscarriage and have not been able to get pregnant since…and we do have another vehicle that all of us fit in. I guess it’s time we reconsider selling the van again. Thank you for blogging and thank you for having the courage to share your testimony!

    Like

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