This last while I have felt stretched thin in such a good way. As I strive to fulfill my duties as a wife and a mother and a disciple of Christ, I look back and can really see how far I have come. The Lord has taught me that he will not only teach me what I need to do differently to better my abilities or change my circumstances, but that He, too, is going to let me learn to work hard in the process. Seeing where I am now compared to where I was, I now know that I can do hard things.
I came across a short film this past week as I prepared a lesson to teach at church. It’s called Only a Stonecutter. Whether or not you’ve seen it, I invite you to take the time to follow the link and watch it. No summary can do it justice. The man in the film embraces hardship and sacrifice. He wasn’t one to use excuses, although reason and good sense would have been on his side, for what was asked of him was more physically demanding than anything I have ever known. And not only that, but he was asked to put the needs of his family in second place in order to serve God first, which undoubtedly put an incredibly heavy burden on his wife. And not only that, but he was given no break, no play time, as he had to do the work on the his farm all on Saturday, only having the Sabbath to rest, before he began again at 2 am on Monday.
But the story of this family taught me, in essence, to suck it up. I whine that I’m stuck in a townhome, that my husband works his demanding schedule, that my children won’t just go to bed, that I never get a break from the daily grind, that I’m tired, that my husband’s calling is so demanding of his time, that my budget is so tight, on and on and on. Slapped to the face and suck it up, Shayla. Obligations and duties aren’t meant to be convenient. So get over the inconvenience and uncomfortableness of it all, and dig in your heels, especially because in comparison, it’s not near as bad as what was asked of this family.
The other thing I learned from this story was in connection with a memory. The question was asked, “Would you be willing to die for Jesus Christ if he asked that of you?”
“Absolutely,” was the response without hesitation.
“That’s brave, but that’s not really what he is asking us to sacrifice, is it? He is asking for a lot of smaller sacrifices, ones that aren’t convenient or grand. It’s those sacrifices that make us true followers of Him.”
I may not be asked to walk 22 miles on a wooden leg at 2:00 in the morning to be away from my family all week while they manage a farm and are in danger of cougars, bears, and Indians while I work stone for a temple of God. But I am asked to do the laundry, and the dishes, to put the needs of my children and my husband above my own, to be a visiting teacher, to seek opportunities to share what I believe, to serve those around me, to keep the Sabbath holy, to pray and read scriptures every day, to wake up early, to do family history, to go to the temple. The sacrifices I am asked to make regularly slid into perspective: they are important, they are necessary, they are good and grand even when they are recognized by only me sometimes. These last couple days, I have embraced sacrifice instead of trying to avoid it. And can I say, it has made all the difference. The weight of my burdens has become so bearable that I truly feel to seek what more the Lord would have me do. Perhaps this is what is meant by there being power in covenant keeping. As I have strived to more fully live by the commandments and counsels of the Lord, to bear the burdens of those around me, to help others feel the love of God, and do more to serve my family, I have felt an enabling power I haven’t felt before to accomplish good. And additionally, a rooted and filling joy has taken hold of my whole frame.
Joseph Smith once said, “A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation” (Lectures on Faith, p 58). May we all embrace the principle of sacrifice a little better and live a little more in the realm of inconvenience as we “go about doing good” as He did (Acts 10:38). This is faith.