Thursday, November 13, 2014

for the opportunity to serve

I've been thinking lately about my load. What am I choosing to place in my load? I am referring to Elder Bednar's talk, Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease, where he tells the story of a friend who drove his pickup truck into the mountains to find firewood. The man went a little too far off the road and his truck became stuck in the deep snow. Rather than sit and wait, the man proceeded to cut down firewood and fill the back of his truck. It was only after he had loaded his truck with the heavy wood that he had the traction he needed to get back on the road and safely home.

Elder Bednar says, "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. . . 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."

To a certain extent, I believe, we can choose what goes into our load. Yes there are things like illness or the actions of others, or other trials that are out of our control. But there are many things that we choose to load ourselves with everyday. Elder Bednar teaches us that we need to ask these questions: "Is the load I am carrying producing the spiritual traction that will enable me to press forward with faith in Christ on the straight 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?"

He says, "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."

I feel like I'm sort of at a crossroads. All of my children will soon be in school all day long. I no longer have babies or toddlers to tend. My time is starting to become more of my own. And so I must choose how to spend that time. I must choose what load I am willing to carry. Am I choosing the things that will give me the traction I need to return to my Heavenly Father? Or am I choosing "nice but unnecessary things" that are serving only to distract me from what is most important. Things like blogging and home decor, or fretting about my wardrobe and my waistline come to mind. They are nice, but they shouldn't be monopolizing my load.

These thoughts have weighed heavily on my mind. I don't think I know all of the answers, but I have felt strongly that service for others needs to be more of a priority in my life. And I'm not talking about anything major. Things like watching a neighbor's children when her husband has been away for a week and she needs an hour to get her house back in order before his return. Bringing a friend dinner when she has recently undergone surgery. Getting to know a new neighbor at the park and helping her feel more at home here. Fulfilling my church calling. Basically, getting out of my own little life and being available to help those around me. Beyond that, even, seeking opportunities to serve those around me.

As I have sought these opportunities, they have come. This is what I know: service brings joy. It brings blessings. It brings me closer to Jesus Christ. I have seen this again and again. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve.

*photo of Elliot and my nephew, David, who is staying with us for the week while his mother endures the early stages of a very difficult pregnancy.


  1. I think I've said it before but I'll say it again; you are inspiring!

  2. I needed to hear this today! I have two children, one in 2nd grade and one who will be starting full day kindergarten next year. My husband and I have been trying for a third child to come into our family. I began having doubts, thinking of how much work it is to have little ones. Having more time for myself once both kids were in school sounded tempting. Reading this, and then reading my favorite talk by sister Julie B. Beck reminded me what I really want. To be a mother. I know I am not done having kids, and I wouldn't trade motherhood for any other job in the world. So hopefully by the time school starts next year I will have another sweet little one to care for! I cannot deny the peace I have already felt when praying about this.. especially when I was in the temple the other night. So thank you :)

  3. Stephanie, you are such a wonderful writer - truly have a way with words. This post really hit home today (as most of your posts do.) Thank you for commitment to encourage so many people through your blog and just know that there are so many individuals that receive a blessing just by reading your words.

    PS I especially enjoyed your "travel" posts lately (NYC and New Orleans). I loved your honesty, particularly about N.O. Don't worry about nasty comments - you are entitled to your opinion about your experience !!

    Blessings to you and your family!!

  4. Your blog is a service to me-- you inspire me to be a better person.

  5. This was beautiful and wonderful to read. I am carrying a heavy load, but it is definitely giving me traction. Thinking of it that way is inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Yay. And what nice comments, Steph! So true. I believe this 100%.


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