A Burden We Are Not Meant to Carry

“You’ve got to pull yourself up by your bootstraps” is not in the Bible. Neither is “God helps those who help themselves”, “God will never give you any more than you can handle”, “ignore your pain and it will go away”, or “think positive and you’ll be happier”. So, why is this human-created nonsense weighing so heavily on me? You know what IS in the Bible? “Jesus wept”(John 11:35). “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). “My flesh and my heart may fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted” (Psalm 34:18). “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened” (Matthew 11:28). It doesn’t say that we have to hold ourselves together to approach God. He wants to be the One to hold us together, but we have to get rid of these damaging self-sufficient mindsets in order to let Him.

I’m so overwhelmed by this burden right now. My dreams are full of stress and my waking is worse. I feel lost as to how to deal with it so I wrote myself a letter in my journal. I wasn’t sure I would share it but I have nothing else to write about and maybe it will help someone else.

Karina,

I feel the massive burden on your shoulders. It’s oppressively weighing you down. I’ve watched your shoulders hunch until they can’t possibly get any lower. You were never meant to carry such a heavy load. God says His burden is light, but yours is so heavy that it’s crushing and consuming you. What happened?

You care far too much what other people think and how they are living their lives compared to how you are living yours. Comparison is such an evil tool of Satan. Just because those around you are sucking it up and living their lives does not mean you are weak because you can’t do the same. Just because you grew up thinking you were supposed to forsake yourself in every way does not make it right or healthy. You know what hiding your pain does to you. We’ve been over this time and time again. I thought we were past this. We agreed that the only way to be free from emotional pain rotting into physical pain is to be honest about it, to speak it out loud instead of ignoring or avoiding it. I know it’s hard when you see other people happier than you because they’re ignoring their pain. You wish you could go back to doing that. But you know they are not healthier than you. Their resistance to the truth and denial of reality will eventually destroy their life. And I know you want to fix that for them because the thought of that breaks your heart but, just as they have no control over you, you have no control over them.

But it feels like they have control over you, over your emotions. However, that’s only because you let it get to you. You feel so unbelievably guilty that you can’t live a life/lie like they can. You’re done with that kind of life, remember? It destroyed your body, wrecked your mind, and broke your heart. You don’t want to go back there. Satan thrives in lies so he hates when you’re honest about how you feel. It seems to me that you should keep doing what he hates.

Why is it so hard? Because we’re back to caring what other people think. Why are other people so important to you? You feel the God-given nudges to honesty in your heart that they don’t. Those nudges should be stronger than your guilt. You fear others see you as weak but they don’t understand that to do what you are doing, to lay your soul bare before God and everyone, you have to be incredibly strong. You know what God wants you to do. Stop second-guessing.

But I know how hard it is when love gets involved. You love the people you perceive are looking down on you and they say they love you. So you berate yourself even more for your inability to be like them, to do the things they want you to do. And church? Church can be an absolute nightmare. You’re relieved you can’t go right now because you don’t think you could handle the judgement, the spouting of the human-created  and human-perpetuated nonsense mentioned above. But every Sunday still brings news of people blaming you for your continuing illness because they are so uncomfortable with the thought that God doesn’t always heal. They blame the victim, and they break your heart. You know not everyone is like that, right? Think of the people at CR who suffer alongside you. I know how hard it is but you don’t have to take the others so personally. It’s an issue inside their heart, not yours. I know yours still shatters. You long for relief from the blame and rationalization, for just love with no strings attached. People are not God. They will always let you down. You don’t have to pick up the burdens they are laying on you. They probably don’t even realize they are doing it. Their hearts are damaged… just like yours. Forgive them for they know not what they do.

I feel how terribly alone you feel, but know that you do possess the one Love that will never blame you or place an unnecessary weight on your shoulders. In fact, He wants to take the burden away from you. Please, Karina, for the sake of your heart, your health, and your ministry, take this burden in your arms- the comparison, the judgement, the blame, the perception that you are weak, not good enough, and not doing what you are supposed to be doing. Take your broken heart, your expectations of others and yourself, your own judgement of yourself that you simply allow others to confirm and perpetuate. Take your loneliness and grief. Take your very sick body and heart. Take all of these in your arms, go to the cross and just drop them. Drop it all. If you can’t leave it there, pick it back up and start to drive nails into it piece by piece. Allow Jesus’ blood to flow down over it all. His love covers your broken heart. Let it. His love changes your expectations. Let it. His love makes comparison unnecessary. Let it. His love adores your honesty. Let it. His love helps you forgive. Let it. His love works on the hearts of those who hurt you. Let it. His love covers your shame. Let it. His love binds up your wounds. Let it. His love understands why you have not been healed. Let it. His love is more important than anyone else’s. Let it be so. His love longs to see you walking upright out from under this burden. Let it. Jesus loves you more than you understand. Let Him.

Song I’m feeling: Would You Be Well, by Taylor Leonhardt. Needs to be on repeat in my head.

“Would you be well from crushing anxiety and live inside a peace you can’t understand?
Would you be free from all that entangles you, trade what you couldn’t do for all that I have?
Would you be held safe in the solace of a kinder and deeper love? I’ll hold you tonight.
Would you be seen for all that you really are? Come let your weary heart lay in the light.
Would you be well from fearing you couldn’t be as dear as you are to me? You’ll always belong.
Would you be free to stand on your legs again, and run like the holy wind that’s blowing you home?”

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Believing the Impossible

The very first song I played for my high school choir was Dry Your Tears, Afrika. I will never forget it because it was so difficult. I remember saying I needed to apologize to the piano after I played it because I was pounding so hard. For years I’ve wished that I had kept a copy because I wanted to play it again. Maybe if you play classical piano, you know the ache of needing to play something. I guess I have just missed it. But last night Jason actually found it for me! Guess what I’ve been doing today? Here’s a clip of it all coming back to me: Dry Your Tears, Afrika – Clip

My fingers are super happy. And there’s a story behind this that needs to be told. I did not volunteer to play this song. The thought of that is laughable. I was sitting among the crowd of altos in choir, minding my own business and blending in as usual when my choir teacher looked right at me and said, “I want YOU to play this song for the choir.” I about fell out of my chair. Is she talking to me? I’m wallflowering-it up over here as usual. How did she even know I played? How did anyone know? I could not have been more confused but I reluctantly took the song home.

Come to find out my piano teacher, Mrs. B., had introduced herself to my choir teacher in the grocery store. One thing led to another and, next thing you know, I was tasked with playing the most difficult song I had ever played for an entire choir in front of a huge crowd. I was quite upset with my piano teacher. First of all, she blew my cover. I wasn’t allowed to be a wallflower anymore. Second of all, there was no way I could play a song like that! It was much too difficult. No, I couldn’t do it.

But… I DID. I’m sure my family got really tired of hearing this song over and over again. I worked very hard and what I didn’t need to work on came naturally and it was a huge success. I was never allowed to hide again. I played multiple songs for every concert after that. I knew there was no way on earth I could do it… but Mrs. B. knew that I could. I surprised many people that night, no one more than myself.

That experience changed my confidence. Granted, I am still not nearly a confident person, but you should have seen me prior to this. Now, I finally had a name and a face. My talent was no longer hidden and I will always be grateful to Mrs. B. for believing in me when I didn’t believe in myself.

Sometimes that’s what we need, isn’t it? We need someone to believe in us when we’re having trouble believing in ourselves. I’ve been there for quite some time- struggling to believe. Maybe more specifically, struggling to hope. Hope doesn’t make sense to me. I hope for heaven every day but that’s the only thing I seem to be able to hope for, and maybe that’s okay. But why do things seem so dark if hoping for heaven is enough? That may be a question for another post. But these ever-present questions discourage my hope and belief. Why hope for anything in this life if there’s a chance it will just crush you? Why believe things will get better when there’s a good chance they won’t? It hurts too much. I can’t seem to let myself believe right now, but I know there are people believing for me. I’m grateful for that. As long as they know things can get better, part of me knows they can too. I remember the music story and how absolutely certain I was that I couldn’t do it and I am encouraged. Mrs. B. saw something I couldn’t see… the gift, the spark of talent in me. I pray there are people who still see a spark in me, the gift of life that must still be in there for some reason. Otherwise, I wouldn’t still be here. Maybe if the spark is fanned enough times, I’ll see the flame… and believe.

“One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven'” (Luke 5:17-20).

Thank you to those who continue to carry me, believe for me, and hope for me. I pray that you don’t get tired of fanning that flame until my stubborn soul believes there is still life in me. I will never be able to thank you enough on the day when I finally pick up my mat and walk.

Song I’m feeling: Dry Your Tears, Afrika (This is the full version, the same version we did, complete with percussion and piano solos! Love it!)

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Does My Back Say “Kick Me”?

Another post from my phone as I wait to hear back from the car dealership. My car has been recalled because, apparently, I’ve been driving around a ticking time-bomb in the form of an airbag that could shatter and kill me for eight years. Actually, Jason’s been driving it lately because I can’t and his won’t start anymore. I always wondered why the airbags didn’t go off when we got rear-ended a couple years ago because I know my face hit the steering wheel. Now I know that God kept us safe. Anyway…

This week’s pile-up of issues could almost be laughable. More like the “I can’t believe this is happening so I don’t know how to react” kind of laugh. Nine days of the flu wreaking havoc on a body that I already thought couldn’t survive anymore. Add to that relationship issues, extra financial strain due to unexpected illness expense, and a canceled visit from my parents because they didn’t want to catch the plague, of course. And then Sunday happened. Jason started not feeling well so I worried I’d passed the flu to him (doesn’t appear so now, praise God). Then we found out our bank account had been hacked. No, we haven’t been to a movie theater in Kansas, thank you very much. We had just finished dealing with that issue when…SMACK! An egg hit our porch.

 

At that point I kind of felt like I was truly being egged by life. I didn’t even have the strength to be angry anymore. I just felt hurt. I couldn’t figure out what we had done to someone to make them want to egg our house (we figured out later who it was and think he was just throwing eggs from his porch and ours was perfect proximity so no one hates us that much, I guess). I felt vulnerable and unsafe. And something much more worrisome happened later that I’m not sure I’m allowed to talk about, so there’s your vague-blogging for the day. My heart felt like it had been pulverized and I was too weak to even obsess anymore.

What’s been so interesting is that instead of complete despair, I’ve had tiny glimmers of something else. I have a small sense in my spirit that this is kind of like my death. I can’t imagine surviving anything else but I’ve definitely been wrong over the last week. But it just feels so much like the death of everything. The lowest of the low. And right now I’m not panicking about it. I feel just a little bit of this rare fruit, peace. I’ve had a tiny, whispering  thought that it’s time for the beginning of my resurrection. Only God knows if it’s true but I’m ready whenever He is.

That photo is from the writers of Hope When It Hurts (https://kristenwetherell.com/hope-when-it-hurts/) and they happened to share it on Facebook this week. On Sunday I found myself lying here in agony but quietly singing every song I could think of until I got too tired. I’m thankful it sunk in that this small offering was enough for God. I don’t have to find strength for anything else right now. I am very thankful He loves me like this. His timing is amazing and His plans are too complicated and beautiful for my brain, but I’m thankful He has them. I was mad that my disability attorney canceled my appointment at the last minute but now I know that if I had gone, I’d have passed on the flu to others. I was mad that the flu lasted far longer than I expected but if it hadn’t, something else unpleasant would have happened. There are so many questions I have but right now I don’t seem to be clinging to them quite so hard. I’m either too exhausted or finally experiencing the peace that passes understanding. I like to think it’s the latter. God knows what He is doing. I don’t know how He will restore everything but I’m looking forward to the resurrection.

Song I’m feeling: I Cry Out (https://youtu.be/b4kvq0cUDb8), one of the songs I sang from my ‘deathbed’. This song never gets old to me. I learned it at camp as a kid and have sung it for many years. I remember Vespers at college, and church not that many years ago. It’s timeless. I wish I could find a version with more singers because the descant is beautiful. This song speaks my heart right now.

I cry out for Your hand of mercy to heal me. I am weak and I need Your love to free me. Oh, Lord, my Rock, my Strength in weakness. Come rescue me, oh Lord. You are my hope and Your promise never fails me and my desire is to follow You forever. For You are good, for You are good, for You are good to me.”

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How long?

I’m writing this from my phone so it probably won’t be very long. Honestly, I’m not even sure why I’m writing today except that it’s been awhile and I’m hoping it will be a tiny bit therapeutic.

I’ve had the flu for 6 days. Unbelievable. I haven’t left the house in 10 days and somehow I’ve managed to catch my death of flu. I’m not sure I’ve been this sick in my life. And with that flu has come intense pain from the top of my head to my toes. It’s lasted so long that I’m starting to wonder if I’m finally experiencing the Lyme pain most people have. I feel awful for those people and don’t understand how they do it. It is the WORST. I’ve taken enough painkiller to kill my liver and it still doesn’t touch the pain. I’m growing weaker by the moment, hence why I can’t sit up and use the laptop.

I’m sorry for just spewing my woes but here is the question in my mind. How can God see this and not know that I truly can’t take anymore? I’m too weak and heartbroken for different reasons. How can He see that I can’t possibly go on? These are questions I quite frequently have so they’re nothing new. It’s just that now I have the pain to back me up and tempt me to believe that God doesn’t care.

It’s not true. It’s a lie from Satan and I know that. But believing that God can see this, expect me to go on, and still love me is a challenge. I hurt so bad in every possible way so I just keep crying out to Him. I know He hears me so I keep crying. I wish He would heal, but there must be some reason He hasn’t. I lie here trying to meditate past the pain and into His arms. I am so grateful He is here with me.

“Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long? Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave? I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.”- Psalm 6:2-7

Strengthen my eyes, Lord. Help me see how You are working. Help me see You so much more clearly than the pain. And while I continue to cry, “how long?”, help me trust You. I wait for You. Amen.

Song I’m feeling: I Wait For You, by God and me. https://www.facebook.com/133052930060444/posts/1449130181786039/

God, remember when
You said you’d lift my head
Well, I’m bowed to the ground
In wait for you
God, you promised good
As only you could
Oh but God, where are you now?
I wait for you.

How long will I wait?
How much more can I take?
Oh God, do you hear my cries?
Oh God, help me lift my eyes
I wait for you.

God, you said you’d fight
If I would just hold tight
Well, my strength is wearing thin
I wait for you
God, you said you’d be
A shield around me
But I’m bruised and broken down
I wait for you.

How long will I wait?
How much more can I take?
Oh God, do you hear my cries?
Oh God, help me lift my eyes
I wait for you.

God, I do believe
That you’re still holding me
And this desert path I walk
I walk with you
God, until the day
You reveal to me your ways
I will thank you for the gift
Of waiting for you.

There’s beauty in the wait
So I will give you praise
Oh God, you will be my strength
Through the land of suffering
I will count all the blessings
And know that there’s meaning
In waiting for you.

Oh God, I know you hear my cries
Oh God, help me lift my eyes
While I wait for you.

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