One was upset over friend problems. The other was upset over algebra problems. My sister said she'd helped them through as much as she could, offering understanding and sympathy and suggestions for going forward. (For the record, she said she did not and could not offer help on the algebra beyond, "Can you ask your teacher before school tomorrow?")
Later that night, when my brother-in-law got home, he commented that my sister looked tired. (I assume he meant "more tired than usual.") She told him, "It's been a really hard day here." After she filled him in on the backstory, he said, "I just talked to both girls, and I wouldn't have known anything was wrong."
Then he said something pretty profound: "That's because you took their burdens on yourself."
Oh, mama, isn't this what we do as moms? We lift loads off our children's minds and hearts, and, by the grace, we do it so well so much of the time and our children trust us so completely that they can then, in many cases, be freed of those weights and go on with no indication to someone looking from the outside in that there ever was a burden in the first place.
This is our high calling and privilege, and usually we are only too glad if we can, in fact, take a burden on ourselves and lighten the load for our children. It is not always possible or even always a good idea, but when it is possible and when it does good and not harm, we want to do it.
And yet what lightens our children can weigh on us. What lifts them can push us down. What energizes them can fatigue us. What refuels them can drain us.
We keep adding to this load and stoop over more and more until we are barely trudging along. If we don't do something to lighten our load, we eventually fall over.
This is when we need to hear the voice of Jesus, our Burden-Bearer.
"Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light" (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT).
"Come to me, all you mamas who are carrying your children's worries.
"Come to me, all you mamas who are carrying your children's fears.
"Come to me, all you mamas who are carrying your children's hurts.
"Come to me, all you mamas who are carrying your children's pasts, presents, and futures.
"Come to me. Bring it all to me. Take my yoke on you. Let me bear the weight while you walk alongside me.
"Turn your mind so it faces my direction. Speak my name. Pray my prayers. Cry out to me. Drink in my words. Meditate on my truth. Sing my songs. Study my lessons. Lean on my Body.
"Unclench your fists and let go of what you're grasping tightly so your hands are free to hold my peace."
Sweet mama, you take your children's burdens on yourself and they find rest for their souls, and it is a beautiful, transforming thing. Others see them walking along, chasing their hopes and dreams, and these observers have no idea there ever was a burden in the first place.
You long to do this for your children. You love them and want their load lightened. "Let me carry it," you tell them...beg them, sometimes.
But do you see it? This is how Jesus feels toward you. What you want from and for your children, Jesus wants from and for you.
He sees you struggling under the weight of your love-bound load and beckons, "Bring me your children's burdens and your own, too. Give me what you're carrying. Find rest for your soul.
"You only need to hold the burden I give you. And it will be the lightest, most beautiful burden you'll ever know."
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Illustration by Linda W. Perkins