Wednesday, February 10, 2010

That Your Burdens May Be Light

This entry is part of my general conference application series.

That Your Burdens May Be Light, by Elder L. Whitney Clayton
Of the Presidency of the Seventy

I was recently listening to a radio interview on NPR's Fresh Air where author Randi Hutter Epstein spoke on the history of childbirth (link). I like to think that I'm somewhat qualified to participate in this discussion—I am a father of three!—but some may discredit my comments due to my gender. Oh well.

In speaking of Eve and her contribution to pain and childbirth, Ms. Epstein said:

Well, I blame her for starting it all. I mean, you know, she ate the apple, she was punished, and then they said now birth will be painful so she started it. Whether we believe the story or not, I mean that's sort of in our culture. And since then, we've grappled with, is pain a good thing or a bad thing?

I found two things interesting in this small portion of a longer interview: 1.) the misunderstanding of Eve's role in the Plan of Salvation, and 2.) the interesting question of the role of pain in our lives.

I'll save the first item for another posting (but you can get a head start by looking at the "Eve" entry in the Bible Dictionary, link), but the second point is well addressed by Elder Clayton:

Burdens provide opportunities to practice virtues that contribute to eventual perfection. ... Thus burdens become blessings, though often such blessings are well disguised and may require time, effort, and faith to accept and understand.

This view is likely not embraced by those (including ourselves) in the midst of pain or at the crux of suffering. Nor should we take this to be an admonishment to seek out suffering and burdens. Instead, it is a reassurance that through the infinite power of the Atonement, we can find not only relief from the burdens of sins (in all their varying degrees), but relief from all burdens, pain, heartache, and suffering.

In listing examples of how burdens become blessings, Elder Clayton quoted from the experiences and results of Adam and Eve: "Cursed shall be the ground for thy sake" (Moses 4:23, compare Gen. 3:17, emphasis mine). He then taught that this means "for his benefit." It is an interesting—and accurate—description of motivations. Adam and Eve—and all of us!—weren't being punished, they were being advanced, promoted, or set on the path of progress, growth, and "eventual perfection."

This exercise makes me appreciate my wife and Eve even more.

I don't know that I'm ready to say that I'm grateful for burdens, pains, and frustrations. However, I am happy to admit that I am incredibly grateful for the Atonement of Christ which provides a way that such can be lifted, forgiven, and made into catalysts for exaltation.

And, no, given all this, I'm not ready to experience the pains of childbirth firsthand. I do, though, think I understand their necessity and power as I see my amazing wife and consider who she is and all she does for me and our family.

0 thoughts