Bearing Burdens

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This sweet face is our little old lady, who has been just an amazing dog.  Age is catching up with her, and we know in many ways we are on borrowed time.  Recently, I began to notice her back legs didn’t seem as strong they once were.  At her vet appointment, I mentioned it to our doctor.  However, upon examination the doctor stated her back legs were just fine; it was her front legs that were arthritic.  Color me confused, because I have watched her back legs give way.

The vet explained that dogs carry most of their weight on their front legs.  She said that since our dog was experiencing pain and discomfort in her front legs, she was shifting her weight to her back legs. Since her back legs were not designed to carry that weight, they were buckling due to fatigue.  Her back legs were carrying a burden they were never meant to bear.

I can’t help but compare that to our own lives, those moments in which we are carrying burdens we were never meant to bear.  It may be the burden of guilt over our past.  It may be the pressure and expectations other are projecting upon you.  It might even be troubles and sins of another that have latched on to you as a bystander.  These burdens weigh us down, slowing our pace, fatiguing our bodies/minds/spirit, and can keep us from living the life God designed for us.

When the scriptures ask us to bear one anothers burdens, we need discernment as to if this is our burden to carry.  We shouldn’t be carrying a mantle of shame when the Lord has ransomed us.  Nor should we carry the weight of expectation on our shoulders, unless it is something the Lord has burdened us with.  We can not carry the burden of sins that our loved one needs to put at the foot of the cross.  Sometimes others heave their burdens on us, to lighten their load… when they need to be bringing it to Jesus.

If you are noticing the signs of fatigue on your body, pray that Lord helps you to see the burdens you may be carrying that are not part of His design.  Then pray that the Lord reveals the way for you to unload those burdens and take up the mantle of peace.

LET IT GO (Not the Song)

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I was reading another blog recently, it was an advice type deal.  It began with a letter written by a woman, her husband had an affair, he admitted to it, repented, and was dedicated to fixing their marriage.  According to her, it was as if he had just moved on since his confession.  However, she was having a harder time with moving forward.  It bothered him that she still brought it up, didn’t trust him.

My own thoughts here relate back to how men & women handle confrontations and problems in life.  As I have always said, when 2 men have a problem with each other… they slug it out & go get a beer.  In other words, they deal with it… quickly, and move on.  They don’t linger.  They don’t hold it against each other.  They don’t keep bringing it up.  When it is done, it is truly done.  Women, on the other hand, we are very different.  We over analyze the situation…. their role in it, our part in it.  What could we do differently, what could they have done differently.  The better way to handle it.  We replay the conversations and situations over and over in our heads.   We are looking for something, I think.  A key, a clue, a hint that we may have missed.  When 2 women are fighting, they are spending more time in their own head talking to themselves (or to their husbands) … THAN THEY EVER WILL ACTUALLY SPEAK TO EACH OTHER.  Disputes can linger, and both sides need time to heal.  But, unlike men, women tend to forgive without forgetting.  They will remember this situation happened & probably remind you of it, should a dispute happen again.  Women, have a harder time moving forward. 

As I continued to read through the article, I realized that the author had gone through this herself.  The woman was asking the advice of someone who had already been through the trenches.  I have to admit, I have no experience here.  To date, my husband has remained faithful.  Yet, I wanted to see what advice was given.

I was absolutely certain there would be some siding with the hurt woman.  There would be mention that wounds take time to heal, that she would need to explain to her husband that the trust needed to be earned back, get counseling, blah blah blah.  The normal things you would expect to read, the very things I would advise.   To my surprise, that was far from the case.

The advice was as simple as LET IT GO.  He asked for forgiveness, you gave it to him, stop looking for evidence, stop holding it against him, stop making him repeatedly pay for his mistake… Let it go.

I was shocked.  First of all, I give this woman an amazing amount of credit.  I am not quite sure how I would handle infidelity.  Over the years, I have come to a place where I have realized that I do, in fact, have the capacity to forgive for that offense and would be willing to work to save my marriage.  But the idea of completely letting it go, seems so impossible to me.

Then she wrote words that would hit home to something going on in my own life, not related to infidelity, but to a situation where trust was broken.  She said that we MUST let it go, we must forgive as we are forgiven.  If God isn’t holding our past against us, we can’t hold others’ pasts against them.  We need to stop looking for evidence, we need to stop replaying the situation in our head, we need to truly move forward without looking back.

She also admitted it isn’t easy, but it is right.

God knows what that person did.  He will deal with them.  I need not focus on what they did wrong, how well they apologized, or sit tapping my fingers waiting on an apology from the person whom I have already forgiven.  I need to move forward, not look back.  I need to let God do what He does best, which is call His people unto Him, reconciling the body as He commands.

I have forgiven.  I am moving forward, not looking back.

I RAN, AS FAST AS I COULD

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Just a few days ago, our littlest dog escaped out the front door.  He began running.  This wouldn’t be the first time.  He usually runs to one of the neighborhood yards, and I can catch him due to his built in nature to find a tree and relieve himself.  He just can’t help himself.  So, as usual, I shut the door and ran after him.  This time he didn’t stop.  He ran for half a mile.  Me running behind him, calling him back.  Every so often he’d stop and look at me, as soon as I got too close…. he would run again.

I ran until my breath was giving out. I ran until my knees felt like they were going to buckle.  I ran some more.  I kept running because for the first time, our little dog was leaving the sanctuary of our neighborhood and heading for a busy intersection.  As much as I wanted to stop running, I couldn’t.  I had to catch him.  He didn’t know any better.  He had no idea what he was running to.

The more I ran, the more my feet ached.  I was barefoot, not having time to grab shoes as I darted out the door after him.  I was in pain.   I was scared for him.  I was angry at the neighbors, whom I know by name, watched as I ran after him…. not a single one stopping what they were doing to help.  I was angry at the cars that didn’t stop.  All of the people who would just go on about their way, watching me run… no clue that I had been running barefoot on the hot Florida asphalt for half a mile.   No clue that I was already emotionally compromised by the fact our elder dog had a stroke just two nights before.  Clueless, they drove on by.

In my head I had to answer the questions…. “how long will you keep running?”…. “when do you stop and turn around?”…. “why is no one stopping?”…. “why is no one helping?”… “what about the kids?  I left them alone.”… “what if something happens with our other dog, while I am out running after him?”.

It was then, just as I was about to give up, that she stopped.  She pulled her car off to the side to block him.  She started talking to him, to try and distract him from me.  He stopped, briefly, but then darted across the street.  Before I knew it,  I was running into the street, hand up to stop cars.  I had no idea, she was coming right after me.  We cornered him. I tackled him.  Then, for the first time, I caught my breath.  Bless her, she offered me a ride home.  She was shocked by how far I ran.  She was surprised none of the people we passed on the drive home helped me.  She said “I have a runner too”.  She knew.  She sympathized.

I imagine, that is how God feels.  When he sees us take off from the safety of his shelter, into the world.  The world that doesn’t care, that doesn’t stop to help, that just watches as we make poor choice after poor choice.  We look back at him, seeing him pursuing us.  We know that we are doing the wrong thing, yet we keep running. Further and further.  Faster and faster.   I imagine, that it pains God watch us make these decisions.  Coming after us, knowing that others need him as well.  The Good Shepherd who leaves the flock to find his one lost sheep.   I imagine, the pain I felt running pales in comparison to the pain Christ felt as he was beaten, carried the cross, and was hung.  The wages of sin.

I just wanted that little dog to turn back to me; to recognize me as that owner whom he dotes on, follows like shadow, and misses terribly when I leave.  I just wanted to bend down, open my arms and shout his name, and see him turn on his heels running back toward my arms.

I imagine, that is what God wants.

Lord, I hear you.  I’m not running away from you.  I’m running toward you.