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The Load

I remember the night of the viewing. Hundreds of people were there. Maybe even a thousand at some points. The crowd was overwhelming. The condolences were slightly overbearing. I remember feeling so claustrophobic, wanting outside air to breathe. But there was no way out.

I left the gym.

I found a table where they were serving food in the room across the hall. My friends were there. The ones that I actually wanted to see. They were sitting there, waiting patiently, talking among themselves, smiling. They greeted me, although I could see that they were not really sure how they were suppose to. Smile? Frown? Grieve? What does she want?

I smiled as much as I could. I shared missionary stories. I tried to forget why I was there. Tried to treat it like a normal everyday church activity. Not as a funeral...

For a little while, things were a little normal. Like how things were before.

But, the crowd still found me. And I had to face the reality again. Why I was really there.

I remember 2 specific people came to me. A husband and wife, expecting their first baby. I've known them for years. Childhood friends. I wanted to talk about how they were excited about their baby. I focused it on them as much as I could. 

But you can only do that for so long. There was no pretense. Face it, Jense. You know they want to talk about you.

The husband asked me a a question, one that sort of caught me off guard. I've heard it all night, and really, I've heard it all week. But most of the time, it was a statement. An assumption. This time, it was a genuine curiosity. An inquiry. For once, someone wanted to know how I felt. How I did it. As a normal person, not some hero. 

"How do you do it? This? How are you being so strong?"
 
Like I said, caught me little off guard. Most people skipped the question, and assumed the answer. "You are so strong! You are so great! You are inspiring!" ... And I hated it. Not because of them, I know they were just trying to comfort me. But because, I didn't FEEL strong. I didn't FEEL inspirational. And people just ASSUMED like it was no big deal. Like I was some kind of hero. And I wasn't.

But here was someone who didn't assume. To me, it was a genuine question. "How are you being so strong?" 

"How are you being so strong?" 

I don't remember what I said. Probably something cheesy, or not really how I felt. Something that I could say to end the conversation, or make myself feel better, or give people the impression that I was fan-dandy. 

But, I've often reflected back to that night, and that question.

It's been about 6 or 7 weeks. And I'm still here. I'm still breathing. I'm still working. I'm still functioning.

"How are you being so strong?" 

There are days when I don't feel like I can breathe. Where I can't work. I can barely function. I will take literally one moment at a time. 

"How are you being so strong?"

...

I've pondered. 

I've realized the answer.

The answer is... it's not me. I'm not the one that's strong. 

The answer is the Savior. 

He once told us, "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." (Matthew 11:28-30)

I used to be so confused about that scripture, but it became very clear one day. You know how when oxen are working together, with a yoke on their shoulders? Together, they can pull a handcart. The burden is lighter, because they are working together.

That is what the Savior is saying. He doesn't want me to do this by myself. Heck, I don't want to do this by myself!  It's so heavy... And the nice thing is, the Savior can pull ANY load. Big or small. Heavy or light. Physical or emotional. Temporal or spiritual. 

Last Sunday, at General Conference, Elder Bednar, an apostle of the Lord, said something so interesting. He said, "Sometimes, we mistakenly believe that happiness comes from the absence of a load." 

The way I saw it, is that if we want TRUE happiness, we need to know what it feels like to have a load. We need to have those moments. 

But the amazing thing is, we are not alone with our loads. Luckily for us, we have Christ, who have already had to carry that load by himself once. That's why he can stand next to us, carry it with us. And sometimes, we can even hand him the load for a little while. And he will take it. 

It's not always easy. There are moments where we feel that load. But we become stronger. We are able to bear more. He takes it when he needs to. He allows us the opportunity when we need to. 

And that is how we become stronger. 

There are days where I feel nothing but happiness. Nothing but peace. Serenity. Tranquility. There are days where I experience little bits of what heaven must feel like. Where I feel protected. Watched over.

"How are you being so strong?" 

It's because I'm not alone. 

I'm being carried.  

Comments

  1. I hope things are going well and thanks for the lesson on understanding how we are not alone and that is the only way to make it. Thanks to all the people who love and support you even when they do not know what to say, they are all special people and even with short comings love you very much.

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  2. Dear Sister Parrish, I want to let you know that your blog has really touched me over the past few months, as you have posted your thoughts and feelings of how you are doing. I have the program from the funeral at my desk at work because it reminds me that life can be taken at any moment and that I need to cherish my family. You are truly an inspiration to me and have taught me that it is ok to feel down, because the Savior is there right by our side to help us, we just need to ask for his help. I know that you do not know me very well, but I just want you to know how much you have inspired me. I pray for you and your brother Ian and if you are ever in Highland, Utah you are welcome in our home. May the Lord continue to strengthen you! Our Prayers are with you!! Love a sister in the gospel!! Becky Ivins

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