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November 21, 2014

Evaluating my load

On a regular basis, my friend Steph’s blog posts make me reflect on my deepest values and whether I’m living in alignment with them. The one I read today on the loads we carry was no exception.

She shares the story and metaphor that Elder Bednar spoke about in his talk Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease in last April’s LDS General Conference. He talks of a friend whose truck veered off the road and got stuck in the snow. Ultimately, the only way he was able to get back on the road was by filling his truck with firewood.

“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.”

Stephanie’s post quickly brought me to tears because I have been trying to jettison one particular part of my load over the last few weeks. Suddenly I felt guilty.

Am I not appreciating my opportunity to serve?

Am I thinking too much about my own busyness and obligations when the other people I serve with also have obligations?

If I’m able to pass off this particular responsibility, will I be robbing myself of some of the “spiritual traction” I need to keep progressing?

I wasn’t immediately sure of the answer to those questions. Hence, the momentary worried tears.

It’s hard to imagine that somehow stepping back from that one particular responsibility would seriously impede my progress when I have so many other things stretching me right now. At one job, I’ve spent several hours working with just one particular student, helping her think through ways to avoid divorcing, something she and her husband have been considering for the past year. At another, it’s been a roller coaster of emergency home visits, domestic violence, and children telling me they’re starving. (One of those incidents happened on my birthday; I didn’t feel particularly festive after this child lifted their shirt to show me how skinny they had gotten since my last visit.)

When I think about those situations, as well as my ever-present stretching as a mother (to Addison and if things go according to plan, two more kids next year) and a chronically ill person, I just can’t imagine that asking to be released from this one additional responsibility would be evidence of shirking opportunities for growth and service. But then again, I prefer ALL the foregoing activities and demands, even the heart-rending ones, to this one particular responsibility, which comes least naturally to me. Is that evidence that it’s the one that will produce the most “spiritual traction”? (If it doesn’t drain every last ounce of me first, of course . . . )

How do you evaluate your load? How do you know when eliminating something will increase your progress, and when it will hinder it? And most importantly, how  do you evaluate MY load? Ha!



  1. I don’t feel I can evaluate your load, but I hope no matter what you leave on or take off, you are gentle with yourself. Recognizing the many ways you are stretching and growing and serving day to day is a good start there. It was interesting last week when my girls were with their dad, I thought I’d get so much extra work done around the house and at work. Not the case. I’m grateful you shared the Bednar quote. I had forgotten about it, but it’s clear to me that my daughters provide the spiritual and emotional traction I need to get through life. They do actively interfere with my ability to accomplish certain things at certain times and in certain ways. But their absence, somehow, has a great negative effect. As little as I am, I am so much more with them than without them.

    Comment by Victoria — November 21, 2014 @ 4:58 pm

  2. I don’t think there is any shame in asking / hoping to be released. Your life looks different now than it was when you accepted the call. You’ve done your best with the time you’ve been allocated. God has put all these other things in your life too, and all are good things! Accept that just showing up is enough some days. Hang in there – sounds like your job is getting interesting!

    Comment by Kristin — November 22, 2014 @ 12:38 am

  3. i think i will revisit that bednar talk every so often for the rest of my life. it has greatly effected me. i’m glad you feel the same. i don’t think any of us can evaluate another’s load, but i think that through the spirit, we can definitely evaluate our own. i would say to trust your instincts, and counsel with your bishop if you feel that your calling is too much for you. he can help. love you lots. you are doing so much good in this world!

    Comment by stephanie — November 24, 2014 @ 4:15 pm

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