Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thoughts From a Burden Bearer

Something happened yesterday that happens to me quite often. So much so, in fact, that I'm tempted to start keeping a tally. It was brought to my attention a while back by friend of mine who said it happens to her all the time too. Sometimes it's a stranger, sometime it's not. But inevitably, for whatever reason, people seek me out to help them bear their burdens. Strange, right?

I'm starting to wonder about this unusual draw I have on people that enables total strangers to tell me their whole-life story in gory detail without batting an eyelash. And it happens EVERYWHERE. At a child's birthday party. While getting a pedicure. At Wal-Mart in the greeting card isle. In the office at school. For a split second, it's as if I've morphed into this person's long-lost friend and they begin to pour out their soul to me. I've heard stories about abuse, kidnapping, upcoming trial dates, in-law disputes and mental illness... Just to name a few. And that's just the four scenarios I listed above. These aren't just your usual gripes about your husband not helping enough, or how badly the kids are behaving. These are stories that will wrench your heart out. Like being homeless and jobless. Like being beaten by your boyfriend. Like watching your baby turn blue and stop breathing, unable to resuscitate her. And there I sit (or stand) wondering why this person has chosen me to divulge such secrets to. Why me? Why now?

Perhaps it's because I've stopped to listen. Perhaps they would tell their story to anyone with a willing ear. Or perhaps it's a divine appointment with a hurting soul that God has planned for in advance. His name gets brought up in the conversation at some point, by either them or me. The lady waiting for the attempted murder trial of her boyfriend said, "If you're a praying woman, remember me." I almost lost it. I told her I was and that I would pray for her. I wonder how she's making it and if she's sitting next to someone right now telling her story.

Chuck doesn't get it. It angers him that people "dump" on me (his words) when our life is FAR from a walk in the park. " Tell them you've got problems, too! Let one of THEM walk in your shoes for 24 hours and see how sane they'd be!" And he's right. We've got problems. Problems that all the money in the world can't fix. We hurt. We struggle. And maybe that's why I listen to these people. Because I know hurt and loss and frustration and fear. We ALL have our crosses that we bear in this life. But somewhere along the way, I've chosen Light and maybe people in the darkness of their situation are drawn to the Light I've chosen. Perhaps like the sleepy-eyed child they blink at It's brightness and reach for the warmth of It's rays. And if that's the case, I'm honored to be a conduit for the life-giving, burden bearing, one, true Light. "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

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