I’ve always prided myself on being strong. Maybe it’s because the word strong probably wouldn’t come to mind when you look my 5’2” petite frame.
I remember the first time I felt bigger than I really was.
I found myself in my first leadership position. I earned the position of drum major in my high school band. Oh, the short jokes still ensued. They actually had to build the podium a bit taller that year!
But suddenly I was in this position that required strength – a loud voice that could bark commands across a football field, an authority I didn’t feel like I possessed.
I have never felt comfortable with authority though I have found myself in positions of leadership more often than not since that time.
I have found myself being strong even when I don’t feel like it, carrying loads that others wouldn’t. I have always felt like I am still up on that podium – on display, unable to show weakness.
I also remember the first time I realized being strong meant asking for help, not shouldering the entire burden yourself.
Straight out of college I jumped into full-time ministry while also a full-time seminary student. I was in charge of an entire children’s ministry – and I had no idea what I was doing! I felt like I had to figure it all out on my own and had a hard time asking members of a congregation I didn’t know well to volunteer their time.
I am gifted in administration but not in big event planning. I had a fall festival to plan and the night before the big event I found myself decorating an entire fellowship hall on my own. I was so out of my depth but it had to get done. I remember curling up in the dark of my office after I was done, stressed and overwhelmed, worried and tearful.
I didn’t know many people well yet in the church but became close to one co-worker and her family. I felt like I could vent my worries to them and when I did – they showed up. They helped. They prayed with me. They made it abundantly clear that they not only cared but they would do whatever it took to help me figure out this role I wasn’t equipped for. These beautiful people saved me time and time again.
Those were some of the hardest, most wonderful years of my life. God constantly stretched me and showed me my weaknesses. He also showed me what needless burdens I often bore when I tried to carry a load myself that others would willingly carry with me.
How often I treat God the same way! How often do I make my yoke so much heavier than it needs to be? I think I need to have it all together, believe I need to carry my worries myself. God tells us the exact opposite is true:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4.6-7
That worried, harried heart I so often have? It is not necessary.
He can give me a quiet heart, full of peace that only He can give if only I would bring my prayers to Him instead feeling like I am some hero carrying the weight alone.
That beautiful little church on the Gulf Coast that I got to be a part of for a time taught me the joy of sharing burdens with others. They also taught me my first hymns, having come from a contemporary background. There is one we sang often that I need to sing over my life these days a little more regularly. As I carry weights Christ never intended, I need to remember these words…
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
(Joseph Scriven, 1855)