(You can find the picture above HERE, it’s called “Climbing Mother” haha!)
I generally write on my blog or instagram when I feel impressed– when something is weighing on my mind. When words start to come, then I know it’s time to sit down and hash it all out. If nothing else, it feels like therapy to get it out, organize my thoughts, and be done and move on. So here I am— hashing it out. Hashing out the “heaviness”. Hopefully this helps one of you.
“Heavy” is the word that I would use to describe life for a while now. I would bet that I am not the only mother in this stage (or any stage rather) that feels these heavy, overwhelmed, “wow life is crazy, there’s so much going on” feelings. Especially when we are raising kids in such a perfection driven social media society that is ruining the lives of wonderful children (and people in general) exposed to it. I’m callin’ it on the whole perfection thing— bull crap. <— My focus is not on this today, though I think I could write a book. I am not interested in putting up a front of no flaws, so here I am. (I encourage you to be authentic in your social media use too, wherever you are.)
At times, it feels like I have all four kids on my back and I’m trudging through some seemingly thick black mud that goes up to my knees. The kind where you step forward yet, it may be a step back– you can’t REALLY tell. I am constantly reassuring these sweet babies in my care, giving all of my time and energy to them, quieting their little fears and putting out the various fires that seem to arise to block our way. We consistently re-evaluate and readjust (which is why my blog has been neglected forever) and then we continue on. At times it feels like I must keep going or I might just drop dead. The thought of letting these kids down is enough to continue pushing and fighting– trying my best. I won’t let these little ones down, they are everything to me, the greatest gift I could ever receive (along with their daddy of course). Try as I might, the world still seems to be crashing down a little bit here and there on the regular.
I am pretty sure that my husband likely feels the same way… yet add me to his load. I am grateful that he is strong and determined to give us his all– to God, to me, and the kids. (All my love to you mothers who might not have that. I would put you on my back and carry you if I could– but I know God’s got you.) My husband and I are eternally grateful for the momentary reprieve we try to find every seven days on Sunday. Without that pause, reflection and rest each week– we would really be in for it. Sunday’s are a momentary glimpse of celestial bliss, where everything can slow down for a minute—-just long enough to take a big breath— and we’ll take it! And then keep going. God bless church and Sabbath day rest, the words of P.T. Barnum from The Greatest Showman come to mind:
“I remember who all this (is) for!”
-Song, From Now On
This is what I call “Life in a Medical Residency World with Kids” (we have four kids and a fifth little one on the way— hooray we are very excited!) I am not writing any of this for sympathy, please don’t misunderstand. I’m not sharing this to say that my life is harder than yours (we all have our tailor made trials and challenges). Also, considering our situation, my husband and I certainly dug this hole that we are standing head deep in— every single shovel full! And I would do it again, this was the direction God wanted us to go. In the “wilderness” of this particular stage of life— we are figuring out what we are made of, and discovering again and again if God’s promises really are true. The Savior said:
28 ¶ Come unto me, all ye that LABOUR and are HEAVY LADEN, and I WILL GIVE YOU REST.
29 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.
30 For my YOKE is easy, and MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.
“A yoke is a wooden beam, normally used between a pair of oxen or other animals that enables them to pull together on a load. A yoke places animals side-by-side so they can move together in order to accomplish a task.
Consider the Lord’s uniquely individual invitation to “take my yoke upon you.” Making and keeping sacred covenants (promises) yokes us to and with the Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, the Savior is beckoning (calling) us to rely upon and pull together with Him, even though our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His. As we trust in and pull our load with Him during the journey of mortality, truly His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
We are not and never need be alone. We can press forward in our daily lives with heavenly help. Through the Savior’s Atonement we can receive capacity and “strength beyond [our] own” (“Lord, I Would Follow Thee,” Hymns, no. 220). As the Lord declared, “Therefore, continue your journey and LET YOUR HEARTS REJOICE; for behold, and lo, I AM WITH YOU even unto the end” D&C 100:12″
My wonderful husband, Austin, and I made sacred covenants (promises) to God and each other, when we were married in the St. George Temple, 10 1/2 years ago. (You can read about why we were married in a temple HERE.) When we embarked on our journey together, we had grand plans (which are completely different now in a wonderful way). We became yoked together — and there is a third yoke within our marriage, the Lord’s yoke.
We are continually striving to keep those sacred covenants we made as we trudge through life one step at a time most often red faced, sweaty, and smelly, but determination. Life has felt like a sprint sometimes, flying high, big smiles, grande vistas, like we are on top of the world– all with the Lord by our side. In the last last five years, it has felt more like an “up hill both ways” kind of journey. Like the Lord is saying to us, “Ok, let’s see what you are REALLY made of!” We are both trying our very best– knuckle gripping, sweat dripping, holding on for dear life, doing our BEST— but still “Our best efforts are not equal to and cannot be compared with His.”(quoted above) And boy do we need Him more than ever.
Sometimes, when I am particularly overwhelmed, I close my eyes and picture myself at the Savior’s feet. I have brought Him a truckload of “burdens”. As I walk toward him with a heavy heart, I take each burden— naming them one by one— and set them at His feet. “I don’t know what to do with this one Lord…” Again, and again, and again. All the while He looks at me with love. I can’t carry these burdens anymore. I feel sad laying them at His feet— but then He still hugs me— and I can feel His perfect love for me no matter what. Then I can get up again, and go forward. He continues to whisper in my ear, “I am with you” (just like He says in one song that I wrote). I am beyond grateful for His help, and I know it is real.
“However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or distance from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
I often find myself repeating the lyrics of my song, especially when things get particularly challenging,
He is the Christ,
He is my King,
He is my loving Savior who understands everything.
When I’m alone,
When I’m afraid,
I can feel His arms around me and make it through one more day.
The longer I live, the harder life seems,
But when I put my trust in Him I CAN DO ANYTHING.
He is my rock,
He knows the way,
I need His constant guidance to make it through every day,
But I fail a lot,
Though I try so hard,
In the end I know He loves me and my imperfect heart.
There are times, on the darkest night..
When I feel my strength is gone and I need His light.
When I can’t make it on my own,
And start to slip away… I feel Him lift me up..
And then I hear Him say,
(Christ Sings)“I am here, you can stand up tall,
I know how you are feeling for I have felt it before.
My light is real, and will fill your soul,
Keep holding on, oh I won’t let go”
He is the Christ!
“I am with you”
He is my King
“I am near you”
In my loneliness, I can feel Him,
“I am always there”
Oh the longer I live, the CLOSER He feels, If I just put my trust in Him,
If I just put my trust in Him, If I just PUT MY TRUST IN HIM
WE CAN DO ANYTHING! (Christ and singer sing together)
Do I really believe that I can do anything thing that the Lord asks of me? Is that true? Can WE (Myself, my husband, and Christ) DO ANYTHING He needs us to do?
Can we finish residency still alive?
Can we raise 5 wonderful kids unto the Lord?
Do I have what it takes to nurture these children and turn them to Christ?
Can we have a happy marriage and family life through it all?
Will we be prepared when more trials and tests come our way? (Because they will)
Can we do these things in the kind of world that we live in?
At one particularly stressful time in medical school, my husband was feeling the pressure and weight of all that he had to do. He was on his way to a large and important test that would determine our destiny. He had studied all day, every day for months, we had just had baby number three, the pressure was more than we could bare– our future was looming overhead. Our family wagon felt as though it was bursting at the seams. Austin quietly prayed to God as he drove to the school that morning, “Can I really do this? How am I going to do this Heavenly Father?”
After a moment, God spoke to Austin’s heart with a feeling of overwhelming peace and comfort,
“I didn’t bring you this far to fail.”
Those words have stayed with us ever since.
God didn’t bring us this far to fail.
This is true for all of us. No matter where you find yourself.
One last thought from my scripture study yesterday to share with you.
I was reading about a favorite Book of Mormon hero of mine, named Nephi. Nephi and his family had been asked by the Lord to leave everything they owned and journey into the wilderness because their city was going to be destroyed. After traveling through the wilderness for 7 years, with almost infinite number of hardships throughout that time (much of it due to family discord), they settled on the shores of the sea where the Lord asked Nephi to build a boat. Nephi had no experience whatsoever in such work. And this was to be a massive, sturdy boat that would carry them across the sea to the promised land. When I put myself in Nephi’s shoes, I can feel the MAJOR overwhelm! But the Lord guided him. He went into the mountain (symbolic of temples) to be taught by the Lord what he needed to do.
Throughout this whole ordeal, Nephi’s brothers in particular were a terrible burden and very outspoken in direct opposition to Nephi’s ability to do this monumental task. Nephi was just looking up and trying his best to follow directions from the Lord. Nephi’s brothers berated him telling him that he was lacking in judgement, he could NEVER do such a great work. They said he was “led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart”– and mind you, they had already tried to KILL Nephi more than once. Talk about family troubles, right?
As I read this yesterday, Nephi’s response really stuck out to me. To quote just a small portion of what he said,
“If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it it would be done. And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” 1 Ne. 17:50
God has wrought so many miracles among the children of men and they are happening today all around us. I know He has a very specific work for each of us to do. And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that He cannot instruct me, Laura, and Austin, and YOU, and ALL OF US to do what He is asking us to do? Even in the face of terrible opposition of circumstance and/or opposition due to those around us?
What hard things is the Lord asking you to do? We are all being asked to do hard things! For my husband and I, we were asked to take the loooong journey to medicine with five kids (baby coming September 2018!). —-> We are thrilled to be so blessed and excited for this sweet baby to join our Cope family circus! We feel incredibly blessed and grateful to already have four healthy wonderful kids! (For you who have followed my journey, my pelvis is not completely healed. I am going to trust God on this one! You can read about my injury HERE.)
We can all choose Christ and seek for the light and good in an ever-darkening world—I know that this is the one way to true and lasting happiness. Please don’t journey alone. Invite the Lord to be yoked with you… He is always there whether you invite Him or not. I know with Him we can do this. We can all do, overcome, move forward in whatever the Lord asks of us. In the wise words of a prophet of God, Thomas S. Monson..
When we left our pre-mortal existence and entered mortality, we brought with us the gift of agency (our ability to choose). Our goal is to obtain celestial glory (Where we will live with God and our families forever), and the choices we make will, in large part, determine whether or not we reach our goal.
May we choose to build up within ourselves a great and powerful faith which will be our most effective defense against the designs of the adversary—a real faith, the kind of faith which will sustain us and will bolster our desire to choose the right. Without such faith, we go nowhere. With it, we can accomplish our goals.
Although it is imperative that we choose wisely, there are times when we will make foolish choices. The gift of repentance, provided by our Savior, enables us to correct our course settings, that we might return to the path which will lead us to that celestial glory we seek.
I write this with all of the love and optimism in the world. Don’t worry about me, I feel better already! I know we’ve got this!!! Austin Cope, I’m looking at you! 😉 <3 (and all of you!)