The Lightened Load
“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.” - Charles Dickens
Look around and listen on any given day and it is not hard to see that people are anxious. People are breaking and stretched. It seems like we are all tumbling in a washing machine powered by a 24-hour-bad-news-generator. It's like the world is stuck on the "Heavy Load" cycle and we are feeling drenched, minds spinning, wits wrung out.
Days often seem weighted and unmanageable and most of us are feeling pressed down under them, trying to writhe and wiggle free, hoping to regain our sense of wellness and back to when things were generally lighter and less fraught with worry.
At the close of Bible study this past week, a friend asked for prayer for her grown son struggling with anxiety. She said it takes over many of his moments; rearing up and receding into and out of his thoughts and she is just never sure when it will elbow its way in unannounced and which mode he will be in at any given moment: Clutched or carefree.
She would love to make it all better, as any mama would, but as she and anyone who struggles with anxiety's crushing burden knows, it is a merciless master. Cruel one moment and brutal the next, and even a mother's intense love won't make it go away. No kissing the hurt and making it better - oh how I wish...
As we each get older and our kids do too, it sure makes me long for those simpler times when our littles only needed a hug and a tickle to distract and make them forget whatever it was that brought them to fear's ledge. We want to just lay on the floor with them and point under their grown-mind's bed and say "See? No monster, go back to sleep my love. Sweet dreams now". But, of course, living in the real world, we all know scary and bad things do exist; big, worrisome things that linger and weigh us down, down, down.
My friend prays often for her son, but wanted even more prayer covering his heart and mind, surrounding him like a force field against fret. I believe, truly, that prayer is good and real help and one of the best ways we can encourage one another. I told her I would pray and I have each day since. The other women in our group did the same. None of us had a Mary Poppins' kind of fix to offer her; "Snap! Spit spot! All better now!" But what we did have to give was an assurance that she does not need to feel this and walk this all alone; harsh life-winds at her exposed face.
We can (and must) provide cover and help each other get through this life's heavy blows one day at a time, helping to lift the load some, and bring much-needed lightening of our spirits:
"Anxiety in a person’s heart weighs him down, but an encouraging word brings him joy." (Proverbs 12:25, NET)
Personally, reading God's word is the best way I have found to pull up from the clouds and rain-soaked thought. I cannot say I suffer with anxiety, and really ache for those that do, but I think it is something we all experience as the calendar years turn over. Some definitely feel it heavier and gripping harder than others, but it seems to be a common cord of being human and living in a world full of reasons to worry.
When I am feeling anxious, opening up scripture breaks through the thick, greyed fog. Christ takes my hand and walks me out of the disorienting dark, until together, we reach the lighted path. I encouraged my friend to read the Book of hope (Good News) with her son in the hopes that he would also feel the sacred benefits of God's loving and caring words to each of us.
"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7, NIV)
God, the Holy Intercessor cares for you. Breathe that in. Hold it close. Remember it. To "cast" means to toss, throw, or even to heave far away from ourselves and into His waiting hands of grace. I pray that my friend's son is able to one day walk free from the prison walls of anxiety and all it steals from him. And, I will pray that in its' hollow place, God will pour in His peace and joy and confidence that all will indeed be alright, under His covering.
Let us each help someone carry their weight; encourage them in prayer - remind them of how loved they are and lighten their load in this precious way - we are all better off when we do. And, remember Jesus' words of eternal encouragement to us all:
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27 NIV)
Listen, He is whispering to you now: "Sleep tight my love, release your fears to Me today, there are no monsters too big for Me to slay..."
Question: Do you know someone who feels the weight of worry? Pray over them and give them a call this week and ask "Hey friend, how is your heart today?" Cover them in encouraging kindness. Or, if you struggle with anxiety, please reach out for help; from a doctor, a praying friend and of course, to Christ who cares deeply for you.