The Burden

by Diane Schaffner


A dream convinces Diane that she really should give up her burdens. She also learns that she's not the only one with burdens, she's just the only one convinced that she should hang on to them.


Betty - An off stage voice - typecast Mother-in-law


DIANE:  Why is my burden so heavy? (Slam the door)  Is there no rest from this life? (Stumbles to the front carrying the heavy load - drops to the floor) Oh, God, let me sleep. Let me sleep forever and nevcer wake up! (Goes to sleep)

(Jesus enters and sits in a chair. Diane awakens to see a man dressed in white sitting in a big chair. Diane holds her hands over her eyes because of the brightness.)

JESUS:  My child, why did you want Me to come before I am ready to call you?

DIANE:  Lord, I'm sorry, it's just that ... I can't go on. You see how hard it is for me. Look at this awful burden on my back. I simply can't carry it anymore.

JESUS:  But haven't I told you to cast all of your burdens upon me, because I care for you? My yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

DIANE:  I knew You would say that. But why does mine have to be so heavy?

JESUS:  My child, everyone in the world has a burden. Perhaps you would like to try a different one?

DIANE:  I can do that?

JESUS: (Points to several burdens lying at His feet) You may try any of these.

DIANE:  Hmmmm, all of these seem to be of equal size, and each of them is labeled with a name. Let's see, here's Joan's. (Pulls name off bag and reads) Joan is married to a wealthy businessman. She lives in a spawling estate and dresses her three daughters in the prettiest designer clothes. She drives to church in a Cadillac. Let me try that one! How difficult could her burden be?

(Jesus removes Diane's burden and places Joan's on her shoulders. Diane falls to her knees beneath its weight.)

DIANE:  Take it off, take it off! What makes it so heavy?

JESUS:  Look inside.

DIANE:  (Unties straps and opens the top. Takes out a doll.)  This is Joan's Mother-in-law!

BETTY:  Joan, you'll never be good enough for my son he never should have married you! you're a terrible mother to my grandchildren.

DIANE:  (Puts doll back in bag and pulls out another doll) This says it's Donna, Joan's youngest daughter.

JESUS:  Yes, Donna has epilepsy and recently had surgery on her head, but the surgery was a failure.

DIANE: (Puts doll back in bag and pulls out another)  This is Joan's brother.

JESUS:  Joan's brother is addicted to drugs and he has just been convicted of killing a police officer.

DIANE:  I see why her burden is so heavy, Lord. But at the same time, she's always smiling and helping others. I don't get it.

JESUS:  Would you like to try another?

DIANE:  (Lifts another bag and takes sign off) This is Paula's. She is raising four small boys without a father. (Puts bag down and lifts another) This is Debra's - she has a childhood of sexual abuse and a marriage of emotional abuse. (Puts down and picks up another) This is Ruth's - she has arthritis, is older, abut continues to hold down a full-time job and has a beloved husband in a nursing home.

DIANE:  They're all too heavy, Lord, give me back my own. (Jesus hands back her bag) Seems much lighter now.

JESUS:  Let's look inside.

DIANE:  That's not a good idea.

JESUS:  Why?

DIANE:  'Cause there's a lot of junk in there.

JESUS:  Let me see.

(Diane opens the bag)

JESUS:  (Pulls out a brick)  Tell me about this one.

DIANE:  Lord, You know. It's money. I know we don't suffer like people in some countries or even like the homeless, but we we have no insurance, and when the kids get sick, we can't always take them to the doctor. They've never been to a dentist. And I'm tired of dressing them in hand-me-downs.

JESUS:  My child, I will supply all of your needs ... and your children. I've given them healthy bodies. I will teach them that expensive clothing doesn't make a person valuable in My sight.

JESUS: (Pulls out a boy doll) And what's this?

DIANE:  That's Brian,  I hate to call him a burden,  Lord, But he's hyperactive. He's not quiet like the other two. He makes me so tired. He's always getting hurt, and someone is bound to think I abuse him. I yell at him all the time. Someday I am afraid that I may really hurt him.

JESUS:  My child, if you will trust Me, I will renew your strength - If you allow me to fill you with My Spirit, I will give you patience. (Reaches in the bag again and pulls out some pebbles) What are these?

DIANE:  Well, Lord, I know those are small, but they are very important. I hate my hair. It's thin, and I can't make it look nice. I can't afford to go to the beauty shop. I'm overweight and can't stay on a diet. I hate all my clothes. I hate the way I look!

JESUS:  My child, people look at your outward appearance, but I look at your heart. By my Spirit, you can gain self-control to lose weight. But your beauty should not come from outward appearance. Instead it should come from your inner self.

DIANE: I guess I can handle it now.

JESUS: There is more - hand me that last brick.

DIANE:  Oh, You don't have to take that. I can handle it.

JESUS:  My child, give it to me. (Reaches out with His hand)

DIANE:  But, Lord, this brick is so awful, so nasty, Lord! What happened to your hand? They're so scarred! (Diane lookes in Jesus face) Lord, what are those scars on your forehead? What happened to You?

JESUS:  My child, you know. Now hand me the brick. It belongs to me. I bought it.

DIANE:  But how?

JESUS:  With My blood.

DIANE:  But why, Lord?

JESUS: Because I have loved you with an everlasting love. Now give the brick to me.

DIANE:  (Places the filthy brink into His wounded palm) That brick contains all the dirt  and evil of my life. My pride, my selfishness, the depression that constantly torments me.

JESUS:  (Gets up out of the chair and lays the brick at the foot of the cross behind Him. Sits back down) Now my child, you need to go back. I will be with you always. When you are troubled, call on Me, and I will help you and show you things you cannot imagine now.

DIANE: Yes, Lord, I will call on You.  (Reaches to pick up the bag)

JESUS: You may leave that here if you wish. You see all these burdens?  They are the ones that others have left at My feet - Joan's, Paula's, Debra's, Ruth's ... When you leave your burdens here, I carry it with you. My yoke is easy and my burden is light.

DIANE: (Leaves quietly, Jesus speaks as she is nearing the stage exit)

JESUS: I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
Copyright 2001 by Diane Schaffner
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