In Guatemala, men carry massive loads on their backs, with a strap around their head to hold it in place. A lot of times it is firewood, and we have seen a lot of men here with loads bigger than they are. It is really quite an amazing feat.
Today at church, one of the elders shared a story about these men and the heavy load they carry. He said it was like us and the heavy load we carry. And he gave 4 great points to support his analogy. I would like to expound on those 4 points and give my own insight into what the missionary taught us today.
1. These men who carry heavy loads use their entire body, all of their strength and energy, in order to carry what has been placed upon them. They are using their head and neck with the strap that has been looped around them, their backs to balance the cargo, their legs to support the extra weight, and they always use their hands to support the strap around their head. Like these men, we too must use all of our strength and energy to carry the heavy loads placed upon us. But we do not have to merely rely on our own strength. Alma 26:12 says, 'Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things."
When we recognize this extra strength from the Lord, our strength will be increased and we will be able to progress even further.
2. These men do not run with their heavy loads, they do not gallop or walk briskly. Instead, they take small steps. How many times do we look at our lives and the immense weight of our burdens that we feel are crushing us and think that it is overwhelming? We should learn from these men carrying their burdens and remember that we do not have to make giant strides every day, but rather we need to take small, calculated steps in order to make progress. D&C 10:4 says, "Do not run faster or labor more than you have strength and means provided... but be diligent unto the end."
The Lord knows us and knows that we are going to want to sprint to the end. We don't like being uncomfortable, but sometimes that discomfort is part of the learning process, and we need to move at a pace that is going to help us reach the end of our journey without tiring.
3. The men always move forward, never backward. Could you imagine carrying 50-100 pounds of firewood and trying to walk backward? Yet with the burdens that we carry, sometimes we choose to stop our progress and look behind us, look for something that we will never find in the past. 2 Nephi 31: 20, "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
I love this video about Lots wife.
The poor lady was just missing home, turned around and became a pillar of salt.
Although I doubt that would happen to any of us, it is a great lesson to learn that we should not look to the past for answers, but keep moving forward. We can learn from the past, and remember the great memories of the past, but we should not try and live in the past - our future is forward and we must follow the example of these men and continually press forward.
4. The last thing the elder taught us was that when the men cannot continue, when all their strength is exhausted, they find a big rock or something sturdy and they release their burden until they are ready to move forward again. This is so symbolic of the help the Lord is willing to grant unto us. He is our rock and is willing to take our load from us if we will just come to him and allow him the opportunity to support us.
Helaman 5:12 teaches us that Christ is our rock and our foundation, "And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall."
When we are weary, we can turn to him. We will not fail, because he is there, and he will support and love us through all of our trials and tribulations. And when we don't think that we can support the burdens we have, we must always remember to bring them to him and rest in his loving arms.
I am so grateful to have a knowledge and understanding of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and so grateful that we can find application to the atonement and many other principles of the gospel in our everyday life, even if it is just the cultural traditions of a rural Mayan village in the hills of Guatemala.