How Do You Carry Another’s Burdens? {Feeling Safe and Welcome}

Each morning I write.  {Notice…I don’t post, but I write :)}

This morning I wrote about community, walking alongside one another, shouldering the load… the things I wrote about last week.  I find I do not know what I truly think until I write.  So, I’ve been bouncing this topic across the page for months, asking God to provide wisdom…help.

After last week’s post, several discussions followed.

How do we REALLY shoulder another’s burdens?  How do we know if we’re shouldering too much and the relationship is unhealthy?  Can we care or love too much? If we love too little, why?  Where’s the balance, the line?  And, on and on.

Whew.

Honestly, I do not have any magic answers.  God has not seen fit to divinely inspire answers  in my heart.  I am nooooo psychologist.

But, I am a Jesus follower.  And, He has commanded me to…

Share burdensDear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godlyshould gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Galatians 6: 1-3

Love othersSo now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. John 13: 34-35 and Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7

So, how?

How we can love others and shoulder burdens better?  How we can create safe spaces where vulnerability is the norm and no one is nervous or fearing failure?

Have you ever walked into a Bible study or church or a meeting nervous?  Afraid you had the wrong answers?  Afraid someone would find out that you’re not a Bible scholar?  That you’re a sinner?  That you didn’t grow up in the church? That you’re divorced or aborted a baby age 20?

Afraid you’ll have the wrong answers?  That you won’t be enough?

Yep, me too.

So, I am asking you…sisters, how can we put away the expectations, the measuring sticks, the competition, and the {icky} conversations, and sit at the table together?  {I KNOW this is happening in some places. But, I also heard from many of you that it’s not happening in your world.}

I’ve been asking God this question over and over: How can we be about you, Lord, every single day?  Not one day a year, month, or week, but 365 days a year?  How can we gather and laugh and cry…and feel SAFE.

How can you feel like…the wrong answer is ok; your lack of Biblical knowledge is accepted; your sin is revealed and others are willing to walk with you; your lack of church background is irrelevant; your marital status? no big deal; and your shame from that abortion years ago? “We are sorry. So sorry. How can we help you?”

Why? Because you are enough. And, we are ok with you – whoever YOU is in this season.

I am really asking…how? How do we create these spaces, this level of comfort and safety where vulnerability is welcome, not so we can judge and fix, but so we can carry and love?

Will you share with me how you’ve felt less than and how you feel we can all get past that?

I can’t wait for you to join this conversation, but in the meantime, I am amazed at how God’s leading me to resources and ideas as I seek His face.  I read this today…

They stayed out for nearly an hour. I’ve not seen them do that before. It isn’t that they didn’t want to be together, but before it wasn’t so easy. Now, they had a bench to sit on. And the bench made all the difference.

People want to talk about things. They want to relate and live in community and converse and be together. Sometimes they just need a bench. They need a place to get the conversation started, a platform that allows them to linger and find one another. The small group I lead every Wednesday night is like a bench for freshman girls, a place for them to come and share their lives and hopefully, see glimpses of Jesus…Every community needs a bench.

Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky

He shows Himself, huh?  When our hearts truly desire to follow and love well, He leads.

Just yesterday I took this picture:

bench

Something about this bright red bench in the midst of the leafless branches and whipping wind struck me as inviting.  A bright fixture among the dreary trees.

Something in me knew I needed a bench before I even read about benches this morning.

Actually.

We all need a bench, don’t we?

What kind of a bench do you need?  A place  to sit and chat about your favorite TV show?  {Life can be so lonely.} Or a place to share your deepest shame?  {It’s hard to feel safe in this world.} Or both?

Today, I hope you pray about your bench – the one you have or the one you wish to create.  Perhaps God will lead you to a bright red one in the park, or he will ask you to begin building a bench for you and others…board by board.

{Looking forward to hearing your hearts!}

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I thought I’d share some of the resources I’ve been reading…

Incourage is also talking about the bench principle and giving away a cute bench necklace.

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Don’t let the “dents” of life convince you that you’re forever damaged with no value. Nothing is final with God. He doesn’t discard us or label us destroyed simply because we have a little damage. In his awesomeness, God has a history of taking our “dents” and using them to fulfill his destiny. Look at his track record…Dented, Not Destroyed

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Thinking back on this moment, I’m gripped once again by the power of transparency. Clearly, the lady at the front desk was significantly farther down the early menopause road than I was. It seemed easy for her to mention it casually; it’s something I’m still processing. But her mention of it made all the difference for me that day.  It could be anything we’ve experienced, though. Depression. Infertility. Bankruptcy. Terminal or chronic illness. Betrayal. Abandonment. Layoffs. Loss of a child or spouse. Abuse. Divorce. Anything. If we’ve survived, no matter how worse for wear, our stories can encourage… Three Little Words

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I’ve been reading these books about community – about vulnerability and the good that comes from sharing who we are – out stories.  

Daring Greatly:  How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown:    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; . . . who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” —Theodore Roosevelt

Every day we experience the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable, or to dare greatly. Whether the arena is a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process, or a difficult family conversation, we must find the courage to walk into vulnerability and engage with our whole hearts.

In Daring Greatly, Dr. Brown challenges everything we think we know about vulnerability. Based on twelve years of research, she argues that vulnerability is not weakness, but rather our clearest path to courage, engagement, and meaningful connection. The book that Dr. Brown’s many fans have been waiting for, Daring Greatly will spark a new spirit of truth—and trust—in our organizations, families, schools, and communities.

Breathing Underwater by Richard Rohr:  The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is America’s most significant and authentic contribution to the history of spirituality, says Richard Rohr. He makes a case that the Twelve Steps relate well to Christian teaching and can rescue people who are drowning in addiction and may not even realize it. To survive the tidal wave of compulsive behavior and addiction, Christians must learn to breathe underwater and discover God s love and compassion. In this exploration of Twelve Step spirituality, Rohr identifies the Christian principles in the Twelve Steps, connecting The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous with the gospel. He draws on talks he has given for over twenty years to people in recovery and those who counsel and live with people with addictive behavior. Rohr offers encouragement for becoming interiorly alive and inspiration for making one s life manageable for dealing with the codependence and dysfunction (sin) rampant in our society

This book I am loving because I can offer a “bench” at my house once I clear the clutter, allowing time to focus on what matters – bench-sitting – not on all the stuff that requires me to wash, clean, and cook it.

Organized Simplicity:  The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living by Tsh Oxenreider: Simplicity isn’t about what you give up. It’s about what you gain. When you remove the things that don’t matter to you, you are free to focus on only the things that are meaningful to you. Imagine your home, your time, your finances, and your belongings all filling you with positive energy and helping you achieve your dreams. It can happen, and Organized Simplicity can show you how.

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