The weight of the World

What a photo. Little girl putting all of the strength she can muster into holding up a huge boulder. We smile at the valiant effort of this willful little girl innocently and tenaciously thinking she can actually hold it up. I don’t doubt that her willful determination so clouded her view, that she may have started to be concerned that if she got out of the way, this boulder would fall! Oh, how important was her job to hold up this boulder.

Confession: I am so like her.

As I look at this photo, I can remember a time when a dear friend must’ve seen me making a futile effort to carry the weight of the world. One afternoon, she stood on my front porch and looked me in the eye. “Heather, it’s too big. You just have to lay it down.” She must have seen the weary and stressed look in my eyes. She was a dear friend and mentor and prayed for my family regularly.  She knew of the different struggles that were going on, and how they weighed on me.  As she looked at me, she probably saw an image much like the girl trying to hold up the bolder. Valiant efforts, but to no avail.

With the words she spoke “It’s too big, you need to lay it down”, there was such a weight lifted.  It was as though I saw the futility of me trying to control all of these different scenarios in the same way that I saw this little girl in the photo  vainly attempting to hold up a huge boulder.  An effort so sweet, sincere, tenacious, but so incredibly misdirected.

I know that this urgency to change my world started in me before I became a mother- this feeling that “so very much” depended on me.  That my contribution was vital, and that if I didn’t accomplish things that it could be catastrophic for those around me.  There was a sense of urgency (and fatigue) in my life, even in my highschool, college, and early twenties years.  I can remember standing outside of the dorm with my Dad.  I told him that I couldn’t wait to graduate from college so that things would slow down.  He smiled.  Not the kind of smile that agrees, but the kind that was making it clear that maybe things were a little simpler for me now than what I might believe or be aware of. He then said, that “Believe it or not, things will probably be even more busy for you after you graduate.” I secretly thought he had no idea what he was talking about. I was so very on schedule for being a know-it-all 20 year old.

Years later, I look back and smile, realizing that once again, he was right. I also get to live and relive that same scenario again and again as I hear my own college age children making similar comments. I smile and try to choose my words wisely, knowing that they will most likely think, “She has no idea what she is talking about!”

There is so much in life that we can control. We can give our all to our jobs, do our best to provide the needs of our family, be a contributor to the church, to community. Our impact through our actions can be immeasurable and can benefit and touch people for eternity! I love the verse in Colossians 3:23 that says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” I am all for giving it all we’ve got, and using our talents and abilities. These are not “boulders”, but things we can do, things we can choose.

But, there’s so much we cannot control. These are life’s “boulders”. They are too big. They are the illnesses in our lives, the struggling child, the impact of the economy, the wayward child, the hurts caused by relationships. We can’t control the choices of others. We can’t control so many of the situations we may find ourselves in. But we can lay them down. We can freely relinquish them to God and trust Him to carry us through the difficult situations. I love how scripture talks about worrying as such a weight, and that nothing good comes from worrying. It is a weight we are not meant to bear. God tells us that His burden is light and His yoke is easy. Boulders were meant for God to move, not me.

The beautiful and amazing thing is that when we lay our burdens down, we can have the energy to impact our world and give grace to others. When we are so caught up in carrying our problems, we cannot even see clearly. The little girl is so incredibly focused on the rock, that she sees nothing else in her life. So it is with carrying our burdens. When we put so much energy and time into grieving over a situation, we probably make things worse. People don’t see the joy in my life when I’m focused on holding up a boulder. But what a great picture it is of walking by faith when we can leave behind the worry, and trust God with our burdens. It doesn’t mean pretending the boulder isn’t there. It’s just a daily acknowledgement of our need for One much greater than ourselves to bear our burdens.

I Peter 5: 7 says, “Cast your cares on the Lord, for He cares for you.” He cares for you. And me. I can’t ‘cast’ a boulder, but I can lay down my burden. I could choose to be like the courageous little girl and hold up my world. I could try to control things that are uncontrollable. I could waste excessive amounts of energy worrying about the things I can’t control. Or I could acknowledge that some things are just too big, and I need to lay them down. I’d rather be one with eyes wide open to see the beauty in my world, than merely focused on the weights and struggles that were never mine to bear in the first place. Some things are just too big. Lay them down.