We all carry tremendous weight on our shoulders. From the heavy heart of a mother praying for her wayward child, to the burden of a father struggling to provide for his family in a difficult economy, to a grandparent struggling with the illness of a dying spouse, the weight is ever present, and ever cumbersome.
The burdens of our day are not that different from the time of Moses. After freeing the children of Israel from their bondage, Moses would sit from morning till night shouldering the burdens of his people. He would listen to their problems, plead to the Lord on their behalf, and solve the disputations among them. When Jethro, Moses' father-in-law saw the heavy burdens that Moses was carrying on his own, he gave Moses wise counsel. It is counsel we can all learn from as we struggle to carry our own burdens.
If you try to do everything yourself, not only are you going to wear yourself out, you are going to wear out the people around you
I am the type of person who likes to do things myself. I feel that only I know how to do things the right way. For example, for a very long time, I didn't let my children fold their own laundry. I felt that they wouldn't fold it right. Anyone with a large family knows that folding laundry can be the bane of a mother's existence. I constantly complained to my husband about the piles of laundry I had to fold for a family of seven. One day, after he was weary of my complaining, he asked me why I didn't let our children fold their own laundry. I explained that they wouldn't fold it correctly. He then explained that it didn't matter how they folded it as long as it ended up in their drawers and not on the floor. But if it was important to me how it was folded, if I taught them how to fold it, then accepted their attempts as they learned, my burden would be lightened. He was right. Trying to do everything without help was wearing me out and putting a strain on my family relationships. Teaching my children to do things for themselves has not only lightened my burden, it has made them feel valued and useful. It has made us all much happier.
Sometimes your burdens are too heavy to bear alone. You need to ask for help
Some burdens can seem overwhelming. When you feel a burden is more than you can handle, don't be afraid to ask for help. Allow those you trust to help carry burdens you cannot carry alone. You may ask a friend to help carry the burden of a wayward child, a wife to help carry the burden of financially supporting the family, or grown children to help carry the burden of a dying spouse. If both parents must work in a home, children can be asked to help carry the burden of running the home to take some of the pressures off the mother, or a friend can be called on to pick up kids from school. Delegating a portion of your burden to someone else will ease your burden and allow others to bear the burden with you.
Do not take upon yourself unnecessary burdens. W
hen others are able to carry their own burdens, let them
Jethro's counsel on this was very profound, "...shew them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do." (JST Exodus 18:20) While governing the people, Moses was going to God as an intermediary, instead of the people going to God for themselves. Jethro's counsel to Moses was for Moses to teach his people how to pray and then let them go to God for themselves. Often times, we take extra burdens upon ourselves because we shoulder the burdens that others should be shouldering for themselves. As a mother, I do this a great deal with my children. I will take their dishes to the sink, make their beds, clean up their rooms, get them dressed, and increase my daily tasks when they are perfectly capable of doing all of these things on their own. I can and should help them do the things they can't do. But it's important that I allow them to do things for themselves. I also tend to carry the burdens of others when they never even ask. If I am not careful I can carry the weight of the world on my shoulders as I see the trials of others. Be careful not to carry the burdens of others. Remember, you don't have to carry everyone's burdens. That role was taken by the Savior.
It is important to listen to the counsel of others
When Jethro gave his counsel, Moses listened. Moses did all that his father-in-law said because he trusted his counsel and knew he was a man of God. When your burdens are heavy and you find yourself weighed down by the cares of the world don't be afraid to seek counsel from someone you trust. For me, it is my husband. I know that whenever I am weighed down with worry, I can counsel with him and he will help me see things clearly. He will also help carry my burden or teach me how to lighten the load. Heavenly Father can do the same thing. When I go to God in prayer, I can feel his love as he speaks peace to my heart and mind.
If we take our counsel from Jethro, as Moses did, not only will we be more capable of carrying our burdens, we will be more prepared to help carry the burdens of others when we are called upon to do so. The story of Moses and Jethro teaches us that while burdens are a necessary part of life, they do not have to weigh us down.