When I was in the 2nd grade, my beloved teacher, Miss Havens, took us to see “Charlotte’s Web.” I don’t remember if I already knew Charlotte dies or I was shocked to my core right there in my seat. All I remember is I just about had to be carried out of the theater. I cried all the way back to school, the rest of the day in class, and all the way home on the bus. I was still crying when my daddy got home from work.
When I was in the 7th grade, my teacher showed “Brian’s Song” in 5th period gym class. I was unaware that Brian Piccolo was going to die, and I was utterly heartbroken. I sobbed all the way through 6th period, and all the way home on the bus. I was still crying when my daddy got home from work.
My daddy mandated that I was no longer allowed to see movies at school where spiders or football players die.
As long as I can remember, I have always felt deep sorrow when something bad happened. I carried other people’s pain as deeply as I carried my own. It was too heavy of a load for a child, or a young teen, and it’s too heavy of a load to carry as an adult.
My overly-sensitive heart lead to an overwhelming fear that I was going to lose my beloved pets or the people closest to me. I remember praying as I child that God would let me die before my dog, Snoop, or my Grandma Bunton. I just couldn’t bear the thought of losing either one of them.
Snoop ended up on the losing end of a dog fight when I was 8, and my sweet Grandma Bunton died in her sleep at 92 when I was 31. I’ve done a lot of living since then, so thanks for telling me “no” on that one, Lord.
We weren’t meant to carry that kind of fear and that kind of deep pain — not for long anyway. If we live long enough, we are going to experience incredible grief and sorrow. People we love are going to get sick, and some of them are going to die. We’re going to have financial trouble, lose jobs, lose relationships, you name it. Bad things are going to happen.
I don’t know what you do when bad things happen, but I figured out pretty early on that I needed better coping skills. I had to find a way to carry on when I was stricken with grief and fear.
The very Grandma that I was afraid of losing taught me what to do when I was was burdened or brokenhearted. She taught me that I didn’t have to carry it alone, that I had a place to lay my burdens down. She taught me there was Someone who cared about my broken heart, who cared about the things I cared about even more than I did. And most importantly, she taught me that Person was strong enough to not only carry that burden for me, but He was powerful enough to fix.
She taught me about Jesus.
Through her, I learned that I could give God my pain, grief and sorrow. I learned that God WANTED me to give it all to Him. He didn’t intend for me to carry the world on my shoulders. It’s exhausting, and sometimes completely immobilizing. And I’m not strong enough.
I’m a visual learner, so when I’m burdened, I picture myself picking up what I’m worried about — most of the time, I’m worrying about my children. So I close my eyes. I pick them up and hold them in my arms. (Yes, they’re all five bigger than me, but this is MY vision and in my vision, I’m strong enough to do that!). I hold them close to my heart.
Then I envision a big Cross. I walk to the Cross, carrying my adult child and I bend down and gently lay them on the ground at the foot of the Cross. Then I say, “Lord, You love ‘insert said child’s name here’ even more than I do. I can’t fix what’s wrong, but You can. Please take care of my baby and let me know if I can help in any way.”
And I walk away.
Now, do I go back to the Cross and pick them back up again? Sure I do. Every. Single. Day. Multiple times a day! Sometimes I only leave them there a few minutes at a time. But for that precious little bit of time, I lay my burden down. I take a deep breath. I can think about something else, and even sleep.
I can travel light — even if it’s just a little while.
Whatever burden on my soul gets handled this same way:
- Worried about finances or how to get it all done? Pick it up and lay it at the Cross.
- Worried about my sick dog? Pick her up and lay her at the Cross.
- Worried about my dear father-in-law who had a stroke? Pick him up and lay him at the Cross.
- Worried about lost or strained relationships? Pick them up and lay them at the Cross.
- Worried about mean people bullying me at work? I pick them up and lay them at the Cross. (God loves mean people, too, ya know!)
If you need help with your burdens, too . . . if you’re trying to carry them alone . . . it’s too heavy for you to bear. Let the only One who was meant to carry them do it for you. He’ll show you how to live freely and lightly.
Jesus showed His deep love and concern for us in Matthew 11:28-29 when He said,
Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Lay that burden down, dear friend. God wants to show you how to take a real rest. He wants to carry it for you.
It’s time for some traveling light.