What not to carry

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A friend of mine mentioned to me today that she’s done carrying the burdens of others.  She declared, “I’m learning how to put things in their proper place, like taking them off of my shoulders and placing them on a shelf, so to speak.”

“So you’re going to care but not carry?” I asked.  She chuckled and said, “Yes and stop trying to FIX!”

She shared how hard life was getting, because so many of her family and friend’s issues were consuming her thoughts and time.

“We aren’t designed to carry a load that heavy,”  I told her.  “That’s God’s job.  We will surely be crushed beneath the weight if we don’t lay it down.”

What I was saying to her is what I have to continually tell myself too.

The nurturing, compassion, caring, helping, qualities (especially in women) are beautiful God-given gifts that when expressed properly result in a blessed heart, not only for those we help but for us as well.

It only becomes harmful when we allow all those wonderful qualities to push us into overdrive.

I can think of several times when I’ve gone into overdrive–driving myself to the edge of exhaustion by thinking that I could fix a problem by trying to gather the pieces of a situation and (like a puzzle) try to put them back together again.

That’s a good way to create undue anxiety.

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A verse that comes to my mind now is Galatians 6:2 — Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (NIV)  In that verse we’re called to carry one another’s burdens BUT we were never called to try to fix the burdens.

What does it mean to carry the burdens of others?   I think it means we pray, help when we can, guide, point in the right direction, comfort, mourn with, listen to, be there, but we can’t repair anything.

The Merriam Webster Dictionary definition of fix is: to make (something) whole or able to work properly again: to repair (something): to deal with or correct (a problem).

We can love, care, help but we can’t fix.  That’s God’s job.

Those scattered pieces we see may actually be the way God will get the undivided attention of the person we are trying to help.  If we zero in and start picking up all the pieces for them–well maybe, just maybe we’re interfering with a bigger plan.  It’s impossible to see the big picture from our finite perspective.

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Quick fixes don’t last.  Healing does.

God is the expert at picking up the pieces of broken lives and putting them back together again and only he knows where the pieces fit to create the big picture and it will be immeasurably more beautiful than we can ask or imagine.

Think about your life.  If there was always another person there to rescue you from distress, stop you from hurting, picking up your pieces, where would you be today?

For me, most likely, it wouldn’t have gotten me to the place of — if I may use the cliché–letting go and letting God.

It was when I humbled myself, admitted to God that I couldn’t pick up my own pieces that he came to my rescue.  It was giving up control and allowing him to gather the pieces and put them back together the way they were exactly meant to go together.

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Another person can’t do that for us and we can’t do it for others.

Jesus said in Matthew 11: 28-30:   “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

His yoke is easy and his burden is light. 

My friend who is learning how to put things up on the shelf has uncovered the truth.  She was carrying things to a point where her burden was not light anymore.  Actually, it became so heavy that she began to break under the weight.

Helping when really needed, praying, doing what she can then taking all the concerns and placing them on a shelf is releasing my friend from the heavy yoke others were placing on her shoulders.

God never places heavy yokes on us but people can and sometimes do.

Jesus’ yoke is easy and it creates rest.

In the literal sense a yoke in biblical times was a bar of wood that was constructed to put over two animals, like oxen, to unite them. This made it easier to pull equipment used in farming.  One animal would have a harder time pulling the load.  Two yoked together made the job easier.

To be yoked to Jesus makes our journey easier and lighter to bear.

I also read recently that farmers used to yoke a young ox with an older more experienced ox for training purposes.  The older ox would take the major load and the young one would walk next to the older one learning how to walk.

I think that’s a beautiful picture of what Jesus offers to those who are exhausted, weary and burdened.  It truly is comforting to know that Jesus walks along with us teaching, guiding and strengthening us every step of the way.

We don’t have to do it alone and he doesn’t want us to do it alone.

I like the image of placing things on a shelf that my friend described.  She said, “I’m actually letting God have control of them” and He knows it.

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It’s like having several baskets on a shelf and taking all our concerns and placing them in the baskets.  Putting the burdens that we weren’t designed to carry inside the baskets doesn’t mean that we don’t care.  What it means is that we know what our job is and what God’s job is.

Then we pray.  We tell God about the concerns (all those complex puzzle pieces of life) that we put in the individual baskets.  We ask him to take care of them and to put the pieces together in a way that only he knows how to do.  Then we trust.  Then we rest.

Written by:  Nancy Janiga©2014

6 thoughts on “What not to carry

  1. This entry was such a great reminder for me! Thank you! About a month ago my pastor had an actual yoke for oxen and demonstrated how hard it was to carry it alone. Then he had another walk with him on the other side. Much lighter & easier!

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    1. Hi Judy! Thanks for your comment. I’m glad this post was a great reminder for you. I have to remind myself of the same thing often. Jesus used a lot of imagery to help us understand Spiritual truths. The yoke is one of those great examples.

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    1. Thank you so much Sally. No, it’s not easy at times but when we do let go we feel so much lighter, don’t we? It’s good to hear from you.

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