November 2019

I consider it a point of pride to carry an entire load by myself. Whether it’s the baggage at an airport, or groceries from the car, I think I can always handle a little more. When my husband sees me stagger through the door with bulging bags weighing me down, he wordlessly (sometimes with an eye roll), lifts the bags away one by one. Ah, the relief from carrying all that weight makes my arms feel like they are floating in air!

This prideful habit of mine is a metaphor for the rest of my life, too. I carry burdens of worry and stress—some needless and some unavoidable—whether it is grief for my parents’ failing health, worries about my children, or juggling over-commitments at work, home and church. Yet I clench my jaw and stagger on, determined to prove that I can bear it all.

In the same way that my shoulders are beginning to show damage from my pride, my soul takes a beating, too. Jesus doesn't want us to let our pride get in the way of our well-being. As Eugene Peterson—minister, theologian and poet—beautifully paraphrases in his book, The Message:The Bible in Contemporary Language: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” (Philippians. 4:6-7) 

I've heard it said that worry is the illusion that you are doing something constructive. We all know that being told to not worry or carry loads that are a burden for us rarely helps solve our problems of worrying or burdening ourselves. But when I look at the root of the problem in me—my own pride—I can do something constructive. I can acknowledge my pride before Jesus, repent and pray. It's like driving and making a U-turn to go in the right direction.

Instead of doing everything on my own, I can ask Jesus to shoulder the burdens for me. After all, He's standing in front of me with His arms stretched out.