Do you know the song “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother” by the Hollies?
There seem to be various stories behind this song! I am sure that I once heard an interview about a real life incident that directly prompted the song – however, Wikipedia seems to disagree with me so I will give you both versions! What I remember from the interview was that the songwriter (or someone who then recounted it to the songwriter) came across two men – one carrying the other, who was disabled. As they conversed about where they were going etc. the observer asked the man how he did it -how he could carry someone so far? The man replied “He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.” According to Wikipedia the story goes back to 1884 and was of a little Scottish girl who was carrying her ‘baby’ brother – who was in fact almost as big as her.
Either way – what you are carrying and why you are carrying it makes all the difference to its weight.
How we label and think of our burdens will change the impact they have on us as we carry them.
A spoonful of perspective really can help the burden lighten.
I asked at the end of my last post: How can we view our responsibilities rightly, while also recognising that the weight of them is not ours to bear. I can feel the weight lifting – nothing depends on me – God is in control and yet.. and yet as I plan my week or day it really seems to. If it is my job to make my children’s packed lunch today – in what sense does that not depend on me?
In the sense that it is coming from God’s will. If God wants it to be done, even if he has chosen me to do it then it still depends on him. He will provide, he will do it. It won’t be a magic sandwich, but it will all come from him. So do the job, but drop the burden. Exist in a low gravity atmosphere.
Which takes us back to spotting the burdens. For me I think I am starting to see that my wrong burdens (as opposed to my beautiful God-given chances to serve) are springing from my wrong desires and a wrong agenda.
What causes the weight in the burden is the conflict between reality and what I want my life to be like. Which bring us to the golden nugget that takes a gift from God and makes it unbearably burdensome: Control.
I like to be in control. I like to be in an enclosed environment with a limited scope of possibilities. Me in my favourite coffee shop, with my usual coffee and my computer – this is a great environment for me. Add choosing lunch in and I am less comfortable. Take me home, add in Christmas luggage, the need to remove our car paraphernalia from the hire car and a lost Christmas present and I can’t breathe normally. The actual ‘to do’ of that situation was not burdensome. NTV did all the emptying with the help of the children, the house had been left highly tidy and organised on Christmas day, and the lost present had the value of £2.99 and can be easily replaced if necessary. Once the car was empty there was no deadline for things to be done and so no time pressure. So why the panic?
Because the lost present represented a mistake, a break down in the system – and if I had got that wrong then who knows what else has gone wrong.
Because every box of chocolates opened represented something I couldn’t enjoy (I have given up sugar) and so represented guilt at ‘wasting’ someone’s kind gift to me (this is ridiculous because what with the other four members of the household and almost constant hospitality situations in our house nothing will go to waste). Because every present represented a relationship that I might be getting wrong. Because every present needs a place so that it can be used properly and not broken or lost or forgotten about.
In short I went from a highly controlled* environment – the car – to a highly out of control environment. If only I had prayed. If only I had paused to spot the real issues and unhooked the add ons and prayed.
Dear Father God,
Thank you for people’s generosity to us, thank you that people love us. Help me to rest in their choice to give to us – to leave that with them. Help us to be generous and hospitable with all the yummy food we have – may it be a blessing to people as they visit our house over the next few weeks. Help me to wisely review my no sugar diet when my mind and life is calmer. Help us to take time to love people as we thank them. Thank you for the presents we were able to give our children, I made a mistake not ordering that sticker book for the One and Only Daughter – help me to forgive myself. Give me wisdom in knowing how to proceed. Help me to be patient in resolving that imperfection, to be able to accept mistakes and imperfections in my life. I’m sorry that I fear disorder – and then sin in that fear as I snap at others, as I doubt you, as I put order above everything else. Please forgive me. Provide me with the time and skills I need to organise things and help me to be patient and give myself time and more importantly help me not to idolise order. I’m sorry that I didn’t rejoice in you in that situation, that I was anxious and slow to pray. Help me to live a life under your yoke not my own. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
*Control of course is an illusion. When I say control I mean the perception of control. Only God can be truly in control. I feel in control when I need to change little about my circumstances, or when I can easily change my circumstances. What a joy it would be to just admit that I am not in control, that I am not in charge, that I am simply free to serve the one who is.
So a new year is upon us, will these thoughts on burdens make 2016 a light year? We will see.