Conversations

Not My Burden

Photo by Rajdeep Mitra on Unsplash

I was nervous. Scared maybe? What would this do to them? They are all either going to be angry with me or they are going to be more sad and hurt than I can take. 

“I’m no better than anyone else.” – my thoughts took jabs at me. 

This is going to hurt them all so much. Will they even be able to forgive me? Worse yet, will they condemn me and tell me all the ways I’m wrong? 

I’ve put so much time and energy into this – so much thought and study and prayer and conversations with people wiser than me. By this point, I was more broken and despairing than I could have imagined possible. 

I had planned what I would say. 

What was it I was going to say again? My mind couldn’t focus. 

This wasn’t anxiety (I don’t think), but it was stress sure enough. I was willing to be told I was wrong, but then what do I do with everything I’ve learned and discovered the past few weeks? Am I going crazy? My mind raced with the “what if’s”, trying to figure out all the possible, only terrible ways this conversation could go. 

“I am such a terrible person”, I repeated only to myself because the shame I felt kept the sound tight inside. 

I mean who did I think I was leading any Bible study groups? I shouldn’t have ever tried to counsel, or comfort, or guide, or teach, or even pray for anyone – especially not my own siblings. 

“What a stupid, prideful, terrible person I’d been”, that inner voice repeated again. One thing I knew for sure: I deserved whatever rejection or lecture was about to come.

If only I could figure out how to keep everyone happy and also fix this whole situation. I mean, this is insane! Especially for me! I am a “good Christian”. 

Father, God, I don’t deserve grace or mercy. I have judged people in my own mind – you’ve seen it. And now here I am, no better. I only deserve to be rejected. But I don’t want people to be sad because of me. If I say these things, if I think about this path, I am going to make so many people so sad and angry and hurt, not the least of which are ones I hold most dear. How do I save everyone from all this hurt… and still address the truth of what I’m struggling with? I asked for counseling – but was told “You don’t need that.” 

I was feeling the weight of these past many years of trying, and being tirelessly “good”. I’d recently been told, through tears, that I had made it harder on someone else to live up to being “good” because someone else was comparing them to me. Ouch! 

No matter what I do, I can’t make anyone happy. I can’t save anyone. It’s not getting better and I’m not helping. And this sadness is so very heavy, I can’t escape it’s iron grip. I’ve been carrying this for so long, maybe if I tell them, they can at least help me, or tell me how to get better. I just wish it wasn’t going to make them sad or (even worse) disappointed with me. How can I do this to them? I can’t do this! Maybe they won’t call and I can just buck up again, a little more, one more time. I’m supposed to be tough. I surround myself with strong women and I am not one to give up. That’s what this will look like to them – giving up. This isn’t protecting them. This will disappoint and hurt them, and it will all be my fault.

I felt the gentle touch of the Father’s hand on my shoulder. I didn’t even have to see to know who it was. His gentle hand has the same tenderness as His voice I knew so well.

 “Why do you think you can make people happy, dear one? You don’t have that kind of power. This is why you have been struggling. This weight is not yours to carry. 

I have not rejected you. 

Trust me to deliver you and them, and to bring joy and peace. You are my precious daughter, whom I delight in. This is not what defines you. Your sin is a weight, yes, but carrying it or avoiding it is not what makes you lovely or loveable. I have made you both. 

I do love you. 

Remember, I knew all of this before you understood how to speak, and I still gave my Son to be the perfect sacrifice for you so that you would know: 

You are not the One who judges peoples’ righteousness, not even your own. 

You are not the One who saves people from trouble, not even yourself. 

When the world has many trials, there is One who overcomes all those troubles and carries you (and those you love) through them. 

I have created all these people you care about, just as I have created you. I will care for you (and them) through it all. 

There will be times when things will be hard, but I AM here. 

There will be times that you will have tears and questions, but I AM the answer, and I AM the One who will wipe away your tears. 

There will be times you will feel weak, but no longer will you be oppressed because I AM your Strength and Salvation. 

And this time, right now, 

I AM the words you need, 

the strength you lack, 

the wisdom you seek, 

and I AM with you. 

Do not put these burdens on yourself my dear child. Give them to me, little one. I have a much easier thing for you to carry. The burden of saving others from grief, this is not yours to carry. I AM able to carry all of this, and you. Climb into my arms, they are strong enough for you and all this weight. You don’t need to put this on yourself any longer, truly you never needed to, and now that you are aware of these things, you can simply give them to me. I AM going to help you remember to keep putting the boulders of people-pleasing actions into my hands. All you need to do is be the incredible daughter I created, and rest. 

Breathe out and let the weight go. Breathe in the life that I have created in you, and rest dear one.”

Conversations

Are You My Neighbor?

Sitting here in mud and filth, bloodied and bruised. All these people walking by. Do they see me? Do they see me broken and blood-stained? Does anyone see the pain and mess I’m in?

 

I see a doctor headed my direction; maybe he will see me and stop to help. … As he passes me by he lifts his phone up to his ear and moves to the other side of the street. …

 

A familiar face from the church in town is headed my direction. She is always doing good things for people: feeding the homeless, going on missions trips to foreign countries, attending prayer groups and Bible studies. She is well known for helping people. Surely she will see me and at least help me get up out of this mud!

“Are you ok? You really shouldn’t sit in such a muddy mess.” she says. 

I wonder why she is asking. Do I look like I might be ok? Before I can answer, she starts praying for me as if she figured out what I needed help with. 

“Amen.” she finishes praying and gives one last heartfelt comment while she walks away “I’ll be praying for you!” 

 

How can all these people just keep passing me by without helping? 

Maybe they see but don’t understand?

Perhaps they think it’s none of their business?

I suppose it’s possible they are afraid.

Maybe they don’t know what to do or say.

 

Wait. I know this person coming my direction. I see him every day. We aren’t close friends, but maybe he will recognize me. Almost as if embarrassed to know me, he cautiously approaches, looking around to check if anyone notices him coming toward me.

“What did you do to get yourself in this situation?” he says with a look of disapproval. “You probably could have avoided this. Maybe you should get yourself up out of that mud and cleaned up.”

Unbelievable. Even he seems to be heartless and blind to my helpless situation. 

 

Tears overflow and roll heavy down my face. I was trying to hold things together and be strong, but this almost hurts more than these bruises and gaping wounds. I try to get up. I don’t want to sit here anymore. I’m determined to get out of this mess on my own, but as I try to lift myself to my feet, my legs give way and I fall hard, back into the sloshing muck. My hands are too muddy now to even wipe the mud and tears from my eyes. I’m overwhelmed and wonder if its even worth it to try getting up any more. 

Looking around for something to lean up against and keep my head out of the muddy water, I think I see someone approaching. There is something different about him. He doesn’t act like all the others like I have a contagious disease. He carries himself confidently as he approaches me. He walks right up to me and kneels beside me in the mud! He lifts my good arm over his shoulder to start helping me up and says to me

 

“I’m here to help you. The Father sent me. He knew that you were in trouble and needed help so He asked me to come. I’m sorry this happened and that you are hurting. I’ll get you patched up and in a safe, comfortable place to sleep with good food. I will help you get back on your feet.”

Fresh tears, now of relief, flood my eyes.

I am so overwhelmed at this kindness. I thought surely no one would even help me get to my feet, but here this man is getting dirty to help me and what’s more, offering to pay for a night at a hotel!

“The Father knows about all His children. He sees every moment. His heart broke when He saw what happened to you. He wept for you as each person He sent to help you did nothing. He was in tears when I left to come find you. He told me that He had to send me because I know first-hand what you’re going through. So I came straight away.”

He lifts me almost effortlessly up out of the mud. Blood and filth are now soaking into his clothes and shoes. I hold on with my better arm as he carries me to the closest hotel. This kind and caring person checks me over for broken bones finding only a dislocated shoulder, sprained wrist, and some serious cuts and bruises. He tends to my less serious injuries and calls a doctor to come take care of the others. Generously, he pays for room and board until I’m restored to health. 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed how The Father sent such a kind and compassionate person to help me. He was familiar with my suffering. He was an image of The Father to me. He was my reminder that The Father knew my condition and as always, was still here, still taking care of me. I didn’t see The Father face-to-face this time, but I saw His reflection and recognized His love for me in the one He sent.

Conversations

Lost…

If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
– Psalm 139:9-12

I’m sitting on the ground. Alone. Weeping. Exhausted. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know how to get there from here. I’m overwhelmed. I’m tormented by worry overtaking my thoughts.

I feel lost and worse, discouraged.

The map lies smudged and tattered on the ground. I thought I’d taken the right trail to get to where The Father was taking me. So why do I feel so lost and uncertain? Have I been walking in circles? Did I miss interpret the directions? I need help. I need a guide.

The Father kneels down to the ground, laying His hand on my shoulder His gentle voice speaking into my darkness “What’s wrong, dear one? Did you forget I Am here?”

He picks up the map from the ground and begins to gently fold it. He doesn’t need the map. The map is for me. I wanted to know where I was going. I wanted to figure it out on my own…or at least I thought I could follow it. After all, He’d told me where He wanted me to go. Isn’t some part of this journey my responsibility? Aren’t I supposed to know how to follow His directions and not get lost?

I don’t know how to move forward. The path isn’t clear and I can’t figure this map out. I’m so confused and lost …

“I saw you focusing on the map and what I called you to. You were so busy looking at the map and figuring out the way to go, you didn’t look to see I Am right here with you. I’ve never left your side. I know the way to go, precious one. You’ve never been alone on this journey and you’re not lost because with me you are found. I know you’re scared and worried about how to get there. Let me be your Peace. Let me be your Guide. Trust me to get you there.”

Will I ever figure this out? There are so many things I don’t know! What do I need to be doing? How will I know if I’m walking the right direction and taking the right path?

Because I Am with you. Stay with me and you will always know the path. You will see great and wonderful things on our journey together if you stay with me and keep your eyes on me. I will take care of the journey and the destination. I love you and love that you want to get there. We will get there, dear one. Have peace. Be patient. I have so much more for you on this journey than just the destination.”

The Father hands the folded map to me to hold and gently gathers me in His arms, lifts me to His back, and starts walking.

Rest on me, little one. I’ll carry you a little while and when you’ve rested and you’re ready again to walk, I’ll lead you. But for now, just rest. We’ll get there right on time.”

I know I can trust The Father. He is the one who knows the way. He’s never lost. It seems like He’s come this way lots of times before…or maybe that He’s made this way. He made the destination, He knows how to get there and He’s taking me there with Him.

Father, thank you for lifting me out of discouragement and setting me back on the path with you. Thank you for calling me and taking me with you. May I know how to trust you with the next step. May I seek your lead with every step along this journey so that I don’t miss your wonder. May I learn to look for you, see what you see, and take from your strength what I need for this journey.

Conversations

Daddy’s Help

Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up. – Psalm 68:19

Another version of scripture says “who daily bears our burdens”. What a great picture of the Father. He doesn’t just know about our burdens and worries, He doesn’t just wait to hear about our troubles and He doesn’t sit around doing nothing until we cast our cares on Him. He actually already carries us and our burdens.

As I was thinking about these things, an image came to mind…

holding_handsThe Father and I were walking along together. He was carrying quite a heavy load – all of the things on His back were mine. And as all good fathers do, He was helping me along, carrying me over the distances when my feet got tired, telling me what to watch out for along the path so that I didn’t get hurt, and holding my hand to steady me. This is a very long journey we are on together and as I started to grow and recognize for myself the dangerous areas and I was able to walk a little more on my own, I started to recognize the things He was carrying.

“Here Daddy,” I said “let me carry some.” He looked down at me with a loving concern on His face and began to explain “They are heavy, Little One.”

“But, Daddy, I can do it. See how I’ve gotten better at walking by myself and I’m stronger than I used to be; besides, those are my burdens to carry. Shouldn’t I be carrying them and learning to be like you, Daddy?”

The Father tenderly, knowingly responds without a single word. He sets the pack down and carefully selects only one or two items out of the pack. Turning toward me I saw a look of great love and the concern a good father has for his child, knowing she is choosing the hard way but understanding that she will not understand his help or his great love for her, unless he allows it. Was that a tear I saw run down His face? He places the select few burdens on my back. “Wow. These are heavier than they looked on The Father’s back.” I think to myself.

The Father lifts back up His very heavy pack and we continue on walking together. The Father, as any good one does, repeatedly checks on me, looking to see if I’m ok and asking me if I need help. He returns to pointing out the dangerous parts along the way, and extending His hand to help me over the rocky places. My response is quietly continuing along without asking for and rarely accepting His outstretched hand.

After walking for quite a while over difficult terrain, I fall. This pack is so heavy! But The Father makes it look so easy! I have scrapes all over me and I’m so tired carrying these heavy burdens. I start crying and I call out “Daddy! Wait!” The Father turns and immediately returns to my side, still effortlessly carrying that huge load. He has scrapes and bruises too, in the exact same spots as me! But He’s not out of breath, He’s not tired.

Knowing full well what I’m going through and seeing how worn out I am from all of this, He still asks me, with compassion in His voice, “What’s wrong, my child?” Fighting to not break down sobbing due to the pain, fatigue, and disappointment in myself for not being able to do this, I respond “This burden – its too heavy. You were right, Daddy, I need your help.”

The Father kneels down beside me and speaking tenderly, with another tear running down His face, He asks if I really want His help. He reminds me that it was me that wanted to try to do all of this on my own and that He had been there all along the way, ready to help. There was no condemnation in His tone, just a concerned Father, just as concerned about the lesson I would learn as the scrapes and bruises I had everywhere. As He gently wiped away the dirt and blood stains and tenderly wiped my tear-stained face, He reminds me “You don’t have to be like me, Little One. Yes, you are my child and in many ways you are like me, but there will always be things I can and should do that you will not be able to do. Like all of these burdens, I carry them for you because I love you. I want you to be able to walk freely and happily enjoy the journey home together with me.”

With the burdens secured back on The Father’s shoulders, with a bright smile and a hint of compassion, knowing what His child has been through and that this lesson will be repeated again, The Father smiles and hugs me as He stands back up. Holding out His hand I place mine in His and He lifts me to my feet.

We start back on our journey home together again. “Hey! Look at that amazing flower! And what a beautiful sky!” I remarked joyfully. I hadn’t noticed those things in such a long time. “Oh! And look, Daddy! Did you see that beautiful bird fly by?” The Father looks at me again with a smile, my hand in His “Enjoy it all, Little One.”