I remember sitting in a lesson at Church talking about trials and difficulties and hearing the comments of my fellow sisters (LDS people often refer to each other as brother and sister). We were all in our twenties, some with young families, some newlyweds. Some women spoke about the financial difficulties of gaining an education, some talked about stress with trying to balance work, school, and a new marriage. Some expressed the difficulty of raising young children and the exhaustion that comes along with it. After this, some shared the pain of not having young children and the sorrow that comes along with childlessness.
I felt the inner frustration experienced by so many when their lack of a blessing is perceived by others as a trial. But I also felt the frustration of mothers who felt a need to talk about the very real burdens they were experiencing. I thought to myself how very difficult it is to weigh sorrow and to measure grief.
We have been told that part of honoring our baptismal covenants is trying to provide comfort to those who need it. In the Book of Mormon, we read, “Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life” (Mosiah 18:8–9)
We have been told by our Savior to “come unto [him], all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and [he] will give [us] rest” (Matthew 11:28). He even goes so far as to tell us that “[his] yoke is easy, and [his] burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). In reviewing the life of the Savior, it is clear that his life was anything but free of hardship and grief. He experienced intense trials and suffering during his life, only to endure the agonizing pain of the Atonement and his Crucifixion. In describing the atonement, we read that Christ experienced “suffering. . . [which caused] God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that [he] might not drink the bitter cup and shrink” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:18). Christ has experienced more suffering than anybody, and yet he has asked us to come to him with our burdens. He desires to lift them for us.
When we come to him with our pain and sorrow, does he tell us to suck it up because look at what he has experienced? Never. He gives us comfort and hope. When we are acting as the Savior, we will mourn with those who are mourning and provide comfort to those who stand in need. We are not the ones to decide if their trial is worthy of comfort. After all “The Son of Man hath descended below [all things]” and yet provides us comfort, “[Are we] greater than [him]?” (Doctrine and Covenants 122: 8).
I think it is a very real and very human thing to feel the need to compare. However, it is important to love each other and give comfort to another because he is struggling and not just if we deem it an appropriate reason to struggle. I have found that every experience I have had has given me a greater understanding for those who have been down the same path. I am given a new empathy. I imagine that the trials and experiences I haven’t suffered are similar– there is just so much we don’t understand.
A while back my sister experienced a miscarriage. She was feeling pain and sorrow and as she was talking to me she let me know that she felt a lot of guilt about sharing her feelings with me. She said that it seemed selfish when she knew she could still get pregnant and I was unable to. I appreciated her thinking about me, but also felt sad that she would ever feel guilt about letting me mourn with her. Our experiences are different, but they both involve pain and hardship.
An important part of improving the body of Christ is becoming more like the Savior. As we each strive to invite others to cast their burdens upon us and as we mourn with those who are mourning and comfort those who are in need of such comfort, we will all be strengthened by the love and compassion of our fellow saints. I have been buoyed up by the love of so many of you in our experiences this past year. I have also felt the happiness of people rejoicing with us. I hope to be that same comfort to any who need it, no matter their circumstances.