The bags are packed, the lists checked twice and I am ready for yet another adventure. I will be attending a conference for a few days, to follow up with my previous post, learning something new. Of course the location I am heading to is a lot warmer than home, so I am hoping to get some sunshine. Off to the airport, taking an early flight and God willing landing safely at my destination.
My destination, I happen to know where I am going, but all too often we set out not knowing what the days destination will be. We are like the earlier explorers who headed out not knowing what they would encounter or if it would be what they expected at all. Life is such a journey, we choose our path not knowing where we will end up or if we will even like it when we arrive. Looking back over my life, I have had many a journey that I would have gladly forgone. Such detours as the death of my father and later on the death of my daughter, I would have happily have avoided completely. But yet I know that somehow this is part of my destiny part of my life's journey.
When I look around me at the people in my life, I also can see how their life's paths have taken them down dark and painful routes, leaving them, as it did me, with a sense of loss, confusion and uncertainty. An inability to comprehend why, and where I was even headed.
Oh how I would love to trade my sorrows with anyone else, but yet I know that it is not only impossible, but that their sorrows and pain are sometimes much larger than mine. I am reminded of a story; a young man was carrying a cross, and he asked Jesus if he could exchange it for another. Jesus told him, sure just leave it there and choose any one you like. The young man looked around, he saw so many crosses, some seemed to go on for ever, other just looked to heavy. Finally he spotted a cross leaning up against the wall, this cross was not too big at all. He looked at Jesus and said, 'I'll take that one." Jesus looked perplexed and asked him if he was sure that's the one he wanted. The young man insisted and said it was the smallest one there, and most definitely the one he wanted. Jesus just smiled and said sure, it's all yours, but what I don't understand is why you would want the very cross you came in with. The young man looked at Jesus confused, then upon closer inspection, realized that in fact it was the cross he had carried in and laid near the door.
We often look at our burdens this very same way, we feel that they are so big, so hard to carry, so difficult to bear. Yet when we look around, we realize that our burdens are really not as bad as we thought, they are more manageable than we first believed.
There are still many days that I feel this very same way, that the weight on my shoulders is more than I can bear. I so wish someone else could carry it for me, or take it away completely. As I open myself up to others, I come to learn that others' burdens seem so much more difficult than mine. I remember many years ago when I had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I felt my world had collapsed. My husband and I had been invited to attend a retreat weekend, at first we kept saying no or we weren't sure if this was right for us. Finally we agreed and off we went on a retreat weekend. Only Tony and I knew of my diagnosis, so we entered into this weekend with a very heavy burden. As we listened to the witness talks, I couldn't believe what I was hearing. The message was very loud and clear, trust, believe and all would be okay. My husband and I met two individuals who had battled, survived and beat cancer. One was a gentleman who had lost a leg at 17 to bone cancer, who felt he could never be loved because he no longer felt complete. The other was an older woman who had lost both her breasts to cancer and yet was capable of lighting up a room with her love and compassion. It made me realize that I need not fear, just let it all go, and trust.
It was this strength and courage that helped me get through the first days, weeks and months after Rachel's death. It was this knowledge that I would be cared for that allowed me to say, 'Not mine but your will be done.' as I stood at my daughter's hospital bed side. Through my faith, I came to believe that I too would survive, I would be okay and that somehow, someday, I would be able to grow, to accept and to move forward. Whenever I think life is too much for me to handle, I look around, and realize that mine is not that bad. Yes it is difficult, but there are so many more so much worse off than I am. So I pick up my burden again, and head out into a new day, not knowing where the path will take me. Trusting that where ever I end up is where I am meant to be.
This is not always easy to accept or comprehend, but in time we come to understand and see that we are much better for it. Rachel continues to be a major part of my life, just the other day I kept saying her name every time I would speak of someone. I was at a gathering and she was very much on my mind because I knew she would have loved to be present, she would enjoy the people we were with and what was happening.
Yes, I still shed a tear, I still miss her so very, very much, but I know in my heart that she is 'home' and still very near. She is a very important part of who I am, today, tomorrow and always, no matter where life takes me. Our loved ones remain a major part of our lives, walking besides us on life's journey. The love is very really, very much alive and can be felt even though they may no longer be present. They are and will always be a part of our lives, sharing their love with us, giving us the memories, and so much more. This is what you carry with you to help ease the weight of your burdens, to make the pain more bearable, and to learn to accept what may lie ahead.
So when you are weary, just know that you are not alone, that others may be willing to help carry your burden, and that are burdens are not always as heavy as they seem.
Blessings! and until we meet again.