“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.”
We all have them.
Burdens, I mean.
Some are larger than others. Some are a more awkward shape, or heavier, or harder to carry. Some need to be carted around for weeks or months at a time. Still others must be carried for a lifetime. Sometimes just as we can set one down, another shows up on the doorstep.
A few, if we are truly wise and discerning, can be handed off to someone else because they really aren’t ours to carry.
But we all have them.
It is naiive, or wishful thinking, or downright foolish to imagine we can escape free of baggage in this world. There will always be burdens to bear as long as there is breath in our lungs.
So. What are we going to do about them?
I mean, carrying too many for long periods of time is absolutely exhausting. Carrying burdens in the wrong way, or shouldering heavy baggage not designed for us can be a killer – literally. If you’re like me, who can’t juggle to save my life, it is inevitable that sometime, somewhere, we are going to drop one on our toes.
How can we find relief?
We sort and stack.
You heard me.
It goes like this.
Let me let you in on a secret: Not all boxes have your name on them. I’m serious. I think we carry a lot of heavy stuff wherever we go that we really don’t need to carry. False guilt is one of them. You know – that cringy feeling you get when you send a bought cake to your child’s school bake sale when you were working and didn’t have time to bake. Yeah. That one. Put it down, girl.
I mean it.
Responsibility for someone else’s actions is another.
How many times have you made excuses for/covered up for/made it right for an adult who wouldn’t do the right thing? Yeah. That one, too.
Drop it. I mean, now.
Sorting takes practice. It takes wisdom. It takes discernment. It takes a commitment to honour yourself. We have responsibilities in our homes and workplaces that are legit and are sometimes hard to carry. But don’t carry anything that doesn’t have your name on it.
Ok. You’ve checked each of your boxes. You’ve determined which ones actually legitimately belong to you. You’ve labeled them and owned them and now you need to haul them and deal with them.
But – and this is super important – you don’t have to carry them 24/7.
What you need is a storage depot.
As in, a safe place to stash your heavy boxes so that you can get on with the business of living.
I’ve invented a ‘room’ in my heart’s home – it’s a library. It has rows and rows of beautiful rare books. It has a fireplace. It has window boxes, with huge windows, and one of those cool sliding ladders to reach the top shelf. When I can’t carry something anymore, or when I need a break from bearing the weight of a particularly heavy burden, I stash it there.
I invite Jesus into that holy space. He guards the boxes and trunks and baggage that has been accumulating during a lifetime. When I need to, I go to that room. I ask Him to help me to open a box that I’m struggling with. Together, we can tackle the agony, frustration, grief, or anxiety found within those boxes. I allow time to process, cry, pray over the really rough and challenging ones.
Then, I close the box.
I close the library door.
I know that when I have time and space to attend to them, the boxes will be there.
I also know that as I deal with them – pull items out, process the feelings and fears associated with them – the weight will lift and the burden will shrink over time.
This is healthy – nothing is swept under the rug. Nothing is denied or ignored (that really doesn’t work with heavy burdens!), but nothing is given the power to control me. It is a way of acknowledging the gravity and reality of the hard things pressing on me, while managing them wisely.
I’ve dealt with a lot of heavy boxes, friends. I’ve grieved deeply. I’ve wrestled with pain and agony so deep that I prayed to die just to have a break from hurting so badly.
But I’ve experienced the grace with which Jesus unpacks these boxes. I’ve seen firsthand the beauty and freedom that comes when I’ve openly and honestly processed abuse and trauma.
And I’ve experienced deep healing as I’ve invited Jesus into those secret inner places where the most harm has been done. As the Psalmist expressed, allowing ourselves to express deep emotion and meditating on the truths of God’s word are powerful steps in the old ‘sort and stack’ process.
What will you do with your boxes?
Try the old sort and stack with me?
Father, we bear a lot of burdens as we navigate our earthly journeys. So did You! And since You understand grief and pain so well, You willingly enter into our pain and You love to bring comfort, healing, and relief from our burden-bearing. Help us to trust You with our deepest hurts. Bless us with Your help in carrying what we are called to carry. Amen.