My 2-year-old had been battling a chest cold for a few days, and the back-to-back sleepless nights were really taking a toll on me. The brain fog was very real, my eyes burned, and my limbs throbbed with exhaustion. I yearned for rest, but sleep eluded me. I just had too much on my mind. I am a chronic worrier, you see, and I couldn’t kick the anxiety I was feeling. Then, for whatever reason, I thought about a nearly empty photo box on a shelf in my closet.
I had an idea.
I got out of bed, located the white and gold photo box, and emptied it. I ripped a sheet of paper into smaller strips and began to write down everything that was troubling my mind, one by one.
I started with some news I’d received at a prenatal doctor visit earlier that day that had made my mind jump to every worse-case-scenario I could imagine. I recorded my worry and placed that first strip of paper in the box. I’d also spent the day dwelling on our less-than-ideal financial situation and all of our recent medical expenses, so I wrote that down too. I thought of my husband and a personal trial he was passing through at the time. I ached to help him, but I didn’t know how. I wrote his name down and tossed the paper in the box. I remembered that our refrigerator started leaking that morning, and though it didn’t seem as serious as some of my other worries, it had added stress to my day, so that too went in the box. I reviewed all of my moments of inadequacy throughout the week, summed it all up with “Mom guilt,” and added yet another strip of paper to the growing pile. I continued writing until every single thing troubling me that night found refuge in my newly created “burden box.”
Already feeling a bit of the weight off of my shoulders, I placed the lid on my burden box and knelt down to pray. My prayer, in essence, went like this: “Heavenly Father, I am feeling so overwhelmed. I cannot think about any of these things for one more minute or I might explode. Please, Father, let the Savior carry these burdens for a while. I need help. I need relief.”
I then expressed gratitude for my Savior Jesus Christ and His infinite sacrifice in my behalf. I pondered His suffering in Gethsemane and tried to fathom for a moment the whole scope of human hardship piled on His trembling shoulders, knowing that each burden I’d just written down contributed to that agonizing weight. I thanked my Father in Heaven for offering His perfect, Only Begotten Son as our Savior and universal empath.
And then something remarkable happened.
In my mind’s eye, I saw the Savior standing before me. My tired eyes met His, and in humility and desperation I placed my burden box at His scarred feet. He scooped it up and placed it under His arm before helping me up. Then, He walked with me.
The burdens troubling me were no longer mine to bear alone. That moment with Christ brought the peace I so desperately needed.
It wasn’t really about the box. It was about the Savior of the World and the promise He made to Alma and his people when they faced severe persecution, a promise likewise extended to all of us: “And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:14)
We each carry a unique load. You might be battling a chronic illness. Maybe you are in the process of a painful divorce. Perhaps you’re a widowed grandmother whose adult children and grandchildren never visit, never call, and never write. You may be trapped in the snares of addiction or drowning in the darkness of mental illness. You could be a stay-at-home mom who loves her role, but nevertheless feels stretched thin by the demands of four young children. And maybe you’re that heartbroken couple coping with infertility who’d give anything just to have the demands of children at all. Your burden might be unemployment, remorse for unrepented sin, or a crisis of faith.
►You'll also like: When Life Feels Out of Control: 4 Ways to Turn Our Burdens into Blessings
Our burdens might look different, but He who carries those burdens—and ultimately carries us—is the same. As we faithfully place our burdens at the Savior’s feet, He lovingly provides the strength and peace that He alone can offer. He did it for Alma’s people, He did it for me, and He can certainly do it for you.
Lead image from Getty Images.
Jessica Patterson Turner is a writer, middle school teacher, and aspiring watercolor painter whose favorite role is that of wife and mother. She is outnumbered in a home full of boys who give her daily glimpses of what eternity can be. She likes to keep things real on her blog, The Transparent Typist.