Starting this month, I am participating in a spiritual direction group where we read set scriptures daily using lectio divina and do the Daily Examen. Today I read in Matthew 11. In addition to the assigned scripture, we were given these directions from our spiritual director:
Come to Jesus, ask Him, 'What are my burdens?" Hand them over to Him one by one. As you go through your day, if you find yourself taking the burdens back, be gentle with yourself, and hand them back over to Him. This is a spiritual practice.The scripture was touching, but following these instructions was really enlightening. Some burdens came to mind readily enough -
the responsibility for choosing (and sometimes executing) my daughters' education,
how, when and whether my daughters will come to their own faith,
running my household,
loving my husband well,
whether I am inherently unlovable
And then I prayed for a friend of mine whose aging parent is having health issues. I found I couldn't give up that burden because the burden wasn't mine to give. This was very clear to me as I prayed. I could offer my friendship over, but I couldn't lay my friend's parent on the altar because that wasn't for me to do. So I offered up my friend and asked Jesus to carry her.
Since then, I've been pondering whether I am unusual, crazy or even flawed to see relationships as burdens that need handing over.
It's not that I don't like people. I do. I love my family. I have many friends that I dearly treasure. Yet I have time constraints and more desire for relationship than time to pursue it. Is there something wrong with me that I need divine intercession to be present, loving and caring to other people? Or is that just part of knowing who I am?
In reading about my enneagram number (9), I am beginning to see myself more clearly. Something I read today talked about how 9s don't have defenses that the other numbers have, so life just feels like too much sometimes. That really resonated with me.
I often feel like I am the burden - that there's not enough of me, that I can't do enough or be enough for other people.
As we celebrate Labor Day, these are some of the things I'll be pondering:
What are my burdens?
Do I carry them because I think I deserve to be burdened?
When and why do I think I am a burden?
And I'll be praying for the strength to hand these burdens over, again and again.