Our house is emptying out. As I look around at bare walls, empty nails, and general less-ness, instead of feeling sorrow, I feel relief. I feel freedom. I feel my burden and load getting lighter. When I have a house full of things, I have to take care of those things, store those things, and that takes time away from other activities that potentially are more important. I’ve felt the burden of material possessions more than ever as we returned from spending 6 months on the road living a much simpler life. Turns out there’s a lot I don’t really need.
Much like ridding ourselves of excess material goods lightens our responsibilities and frees us from distraction, our Savior, Jesus Christ, can lighten our spiritual loads and free us from the heavy burden of sin.
In the most recent General Conference, Elder David A. Bednar gave an address titled “Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease”. He related a story of a friend who acquired a 4- wheel drive truck, and drove out into a forest to cut and haul a supply of firewood for the house. He ventured too far into the drifts and got stuck. Undeterred, he cut and chopped firewood, loaded the back of the truck and then proceeded to try again to get out of the snow. This time he was able to. The additional load of firewood in the truck gave him the traction he needed to get out of the trouble he was in.
Elder Bednar continues, “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” (emphasis added).
I believe that while a figurative load is necessary in order to shape and turn me into the person God intends, too much of a load is unnecessary and can hamper that process. Living a life on the road is not an escape from responsibility, obligations, constraints, and demands on our time. Rather it is being more selective and deliberate about those burdens we choose to carry and freeing ourselves from the unnecessary and nice so we can concentrate on our family relationships.