I’ve been at two women’s events lately that have stirred something up in me. One was a MOPS’ group that I was speaking at and one was a retreat that I attended.
At the MOPS’ group, I offer to be a listening ear to the girls, mentioning that sometimes it can be freeing to lay your burden at the foot of a stranger and walk away a bit lighter. I had three women come up to my book table at the end of my talk and share deeply troubling life situations. Like, gut-wrenching things. I had been sick that morning, I was a tad medicated, and I had been planning on staying for maybe ten minutes at my table so I could get home and go back to bed. Also, keep in mind, I’m carrying my own heavy burden these days. But Jesus had other plans for me than a nap. I listened to each one as attentively as I could. In my mind I was praying, “Lord, I’ve got nothing for this woman! Speak through me, please.” And then I laid a gentle hand on each one and prayed for her, hoping whatever words the Spirit would bring to my mind would be just what these women needed to hear.
I got in my car, and said to Jesus, “Well, that was just too much.” And then I cried for a few minutes. I felt so inadequate and I felt so heavy-hearted because I knew that in that room of fifty women, only three had the courage to come talk to me. Most of the women probably could have lined up and shared a story and needed prayer. Women are hurting.
Then just yesterday I was able to attend a fabulous retreat at a local church and get poured into, and it was just what I needed. After our first session, which focused on weariness, our table discussion leader asked, “What is making you weary these days?” I debated whether to share my burden, even in slivers, to this group of strangers, and even if to fill any awkward silence. I was at a table of ten women…I should have known there’d be no awkward silences. Four of the women shared. And these were not little things. The care of two elderly parents, one with dementia who lives with her and walks around her house at night. One with a fifteen-year-old who has some learning disabilities that are weighing on the entire family. One with a thirty-something son who has moved back in with no purpose and a potential addiction. One with a daughter who has lost hope in life. And there were the other six of us who hadn’t had a chance to share. And then I looked around the room and saw the other five hundred or so women and again felt this burden. Women are tired.
Here’s what I think God is trying to kindly fit into my head.There are burdens that look nothing like mine and they are equally painful.Pain is pain is pain.And I’m not the only one with a big thing.I would bet that a majority of the women who walked through the doors to both of those events are carrying something around that feels larger than they can handle.
We’ve all heard it said that “God won’t give us more than we can handle”.People who think this way claim that this idea is taught in 1 Corinthians 10:13, but what this verse actually says though is that God will not allow you to encounter any temptation to sin without also providing a way for you to avoid it. But does God allow his people to be burdened beyond what they’re able to bear? Paul wrote these words, “We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.” (1 Corinthians 1:9)So, news flash, we will be given, from time to time, more than we can handle when it comes to trials and life difficulties.
And if you think about it, of course we would. If we could handle everything thrown our way, we wouldn’t ever need to call on God’s help.
So, if you’re burdened, bring your burden to God and allow Him to fill you back up and carry it with you. And if you know someone who is, come alongside them in prayer, in compassion, and with hope.
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