Laying down our burdens

At the end of a 16-hour flight, a young traveler noticed an old woman ahead of her in a long line of passengers waiting to clear customs at an international airport. The old woman struggled with two heavy and cumbersome bags, perhaps filled with souvenirs for family members or friends waiting for her at the exit to the customs area.

Each time a traveler finished the process of being cleared by a customs agent, others in the line moved forward one space. Each time the old woman bent over to pick up her bags to move them, the more of a burden they seemed to be.After watching the older woman a few minutes, the younger traveler said to her, "Let me help you. I'll move your bags for you until it is your turn to go through customs." The older woman relinquished her bags, apparently grateful to have someone relieve her of that extra burden near the end of a very long and tiring journey.

We, just as the old woman, do not always have to carry our burdens alone. Quite often, others are willing to help lift and carry them for a distance, giving us some respite.

Sometimes it is with the physical burdens – like the old woman's bags – that we receive help. We might receive a helping hand to carry groceries a few steps or several blocks; or someone might come along to help lift a heavy object, or load furniture in preparation for a move to a different location. Fellow motorists might give our vehicles a push onto firm, safe ground when we become stuck in snow or mired in sand.

From time to time, we tend to try to bear certain burdens alone. These are burdens not as easily identified by others, but they are every bit as real and trying, if not more so, than the physical ones. These private burdens have many names: grief, sorrow, loneliness and hurt feelings are but a few of them. These may come – unannounced, uninvited and, perhaps, even unwarranted – into our lives at almost any time.

In dealing with our own burdens, we find comfort in the invitation: "Cast thy burdens upon the Lord. . . ." (Psalm 55:22.)

And strength comes when we follow the counsel the apostle Paul gave the Galatians: "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:2.)

There are some burdens, however, that we cannot bear for one another, namely the heavier twin burdens of sin and guilt. What a relief it would be to rid ourselves of such weight, to have someone else carry it for us. There is a way that makes this possible.

With a little effort, we might be able to understand the emotion of king Lamoni when he was being taught about God and the plan of redemption. After he learned of the need for repentance to gain the full benefits of the Atonement, Lamoni exclaimed: " . . . I will give away all my sins to know GodT, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day." (Alma 22:18.)

Lamoni's words present us with an interesting thought: In abandoning our sins, we, in essence, "give" them away. The idea that we do this carries with it the implication there is a recipient, or one who is qualified to "take" them. The only person who can "take" away our sins is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but He "takes" them only if we are willing to pay the price.

Feeling the weight of our transgressions bearing heavily upon us, we might confide in close friends, seek counsel from professional therapists or commiserate with associates. These people might be filled with sympathy or even soothe us by saying, "I understand." They might be able to comfort us, but we soon learn such comfort is not enough.

We know that the price we have to pay to "give away" our sins is repentance. Bishops and stake presidents, upon hearing our confessions, can give us wise and necessary counsel to help set us upon the path along which we may lay down our burdens in the repentance process. At times, they might need to take the difficult, yet loving, action of a disciplinary council to help us abandon sins that drag us down with their weight burdensome.

The Savior beckons us to exchange the heavy load of our lives – which may include the burdens of sin as well as burdens of the mind, heart and soul – for something easier:

"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." (Matt. 11:28-30.)