Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In "Other" Words Tuesday - Easing the Load

Susan, at Forever His, is hosting In "Other" Words Tuesdays today. She has give us a great quote ponder and write on.

“To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Taking Turns

Geese fly in a V formation because it just makes it easier on each bird in the flock, conserving their energy. Each bird flies just above the bird in front of him. This makes the wind resistance easier on the birds behind him. They take turns being in the front, falling back when they get tired. Because they do it this way, they can fly for a long, long time, making their journey to their next destination shorter.

Geese know that it's not about the individual goose. They step up to the plate and take their turn, bearing the burden of getting to their destination. There is no "it's all about me" mentality among geese, especially when flying.

If we did this with our family and friends in everyday life, I wonder how much easier it would be to sustain the energy we needed to make it through.

Since we don't travel in flocks like geese, this isn't the norm, but we can learn a lesson on bearing heartaches. We can make it easier on those we love by being their for them, stepping up to the plate when life gets hard, and sharing their burdens with them. We can forget about our own needs and heartaches for a while and focus on others. When we ease their burden or heartache, ours suddenly don't seem to matter so much.

"Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." ~ Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

Shouldering the Load

The Greek word for carry is bastazō. This verb means:

1) to take up with the hands
2) to take up in order to carry or bear, to put upon one's self (something) to be carried
a) to bear what is burdensome
3) to bear, to carry
a) to carry on one's person
b) to sustain, i.e. uphold, support
4) to bear away, carry off

When our family or friends are going through heartache, we can help ease their load by taking some of what is burdensome off of them and putting it on ourselves. Surely we cannot take the pain of a loss or physical pain, which are one in the same to be sure, away, but we can uphold and support them.

I have found, for example, that the story of our infertility and subsequent miscarriage has helped some women through crises in their own lives. It doesn't take the pain away, but it takes the feelings of isolation and lonlieness and burden of it all down to a manageable level. Talking about it and giving encouraging feedback is one way I've found to be there for them. It's freed me up so much.

Being willing to carry it is something I have had to pray about to be able to do. I never thought I would have the strength to counsel women over something that was so gut-wrenchingly personal in my life.

God has provided me with the words to say and the shoulder to cry on, though. Each time I ease someone else's heartache over a similar situation, I feel a sense of a burden I didn't know I still bore being lifted off me. I'm not bogged down with the heartache of it and I feel so free.

Heartaches Come in All Shapes and Sizes

The Greek word for burden is baros. It means:

1) heaviness, weight, burden, trouble

You never realize how much your burden, or heartache, weighs until it has been lifted off you. Sure, you can feel it pressing, but until it's lifted, you don't realize what an immense amount of pain you've been carrying alone until you allow someone else to help shoulder the heartache.

Heartaches come in all shapes and sizes. A miscarriage here, infertility there, a job loss here, a cancer diagnosis there, an elderly parent's illness here, the loss of a loved one there.

Recognizing that we cannot bear these burdens alone helps us move and be moved. Outside of prayer, we often must find a pastor, a counselor, a friend, a family member or someone who is willing to help us. Time is a great healer, indeed, but so are people. People have tangible life experience that time just doesn't have.

Fulfilling the Law of Christ

If you're walking through life with no one in crisis, that's great, but I would submit that there are hurting people all around you. Turn your head and look for those around you who are hurting. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart so you can see the hurting people in your life. You have such potential, as a child of the Most High God, to carry the load of a fellow believer. If it's a non-believer, perhaps God will use you in their life somehow to draw them to Him.

We must fulfill the law of Christ by bearing others heartaches. The Greek word for fulfill is anaplēroō. It means:

1) to fill up, make full, e.g. a ditch
2) to supply

Reach out to them.

Pray for and with them.

Cook them a meal.

Send them a card in the mail.

Give them a phone call.

Offer to babysit.

Text them a Bible verse.

Give them a hug without a word being said.

Buy them a book on what they are going through.

Spend time with them doing something they enjoy.

These are some tangible ways we can shoulder their burdens. When we do, our eyes are on others and our troubles seem as light as a feather. Truly, as Abraham Lincoln said, "To ease another’s heartache is to forget one’s own."

Father, often it's hard to admit our needs. We tend to keep our heartache inside. Help us to be transparent to receive help. Enable our eyes to be opened to see those who are hurting around us. Give us willing spirits to bear their loads and release the load we are carrying. Give us the words to speak and the energy and stamina to help them through their crisis, realizing that as we do, our heartaches become ones that are lifted from us in return. As we minister to those around us help us to always point them to You. May it never be about us, Lord, even though our examples can help. May we only bring the hurting closer to You, Precious Healer. Help us be instruments that point back to Your glory. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

For more In "Other" Words Tuesdays posts, please click on the button above. Be sure to link up and share you take on this great quote, given to us by our hostess Susan at Forever His.

Also, if you have a moment, please help share some of my potential heartache today. Click here to read more about that.



Denise said...

Amen, beautifully said my friend.

MiPa said...

Lovely post. Thanks for sharing. Praying for you today.

Debra said...

Laurie Ann,

Such a Word for me today. Needed it right this minute. Thank you.

Big hugs to you!

LAURIE said...

I love the picture of the birds flocking together...now that is a picture of teamwork. We are all in this together and we need to be helping one another out. Thanks for the reminder. I have said a prayer for your uncle and his family this morning. Praying for a miracle in his life.
-Blessings, Laurie

Marsha said...

Wonderful post, Laurie Ann. The illustration of the geese is perfect for this quote.

Praying for you all and your Uncle.

Heather of S-A-M said...

Awesome post! Your a great teacher and i'm a word study hound! Glad i swung by to have a read!

Sweet Blessings,
Heather of S-A-M

He And Me + 3 said...

I never knew why the geese flew like that...but how smart are they? So true for us...if we would learn to help others out more, our life in turn would be easier. Putting other's first. My mom has that down pat. She has a servants heart, and whenever she asks someone to help her...she has a line of people waiting to hear her request. They love her so much, because she has always been there for them.
Great post!

Karen said...

Awesome illustration with the geese. I didn't know that! Thanks so much for sharing and painting this picture we got to see today.

Debbie said...

Laurie Ann, how beautifully written! I love the analogy with the geese. How perfect that is as an example. I also have gone through the heartache of infertility and eventual hysterectomy. It does provide opportunities to offer comfort to others going through similar circumstances. Hugs to you, Laurie Ann.

Susan said...

Once again, an incredible devotion. Yes, your posts are just that!

I loved your examples and how you gave some PRACTICAL examples of how to care and share other's burderns. (I started to do this!)

You have such a beautiful heart Laurie Ann, so blessed to know you♥

Patricia said...

Your suggestions are great - especially "give them a hug." I needed hugs so much when my husband was dying.

Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

What a WONDERFUL post...full of such wisdom, and encouragement!

Thanks for offering such great suggestions!!! :-)

Esthermay said...

Perhaps, as Christians, we should travel in flocks like geese :-)
. . . sure would cause us to live more like the New Testament Christians.
I do appreciate the real-life application you've made to "bearing" others' burdens.

Jennifer said...

Beautifully written! You are so right...we don't realize just how heavy the burden is until it has been lifted off of us. We sometimes get so used to carrying our own burdens that we get used to the pressure. It has to get to an enormous load after awhile to stop and call out for help. I know I do.

Have a blessed day!

Stacy said...

Laurie Ann,

THANK YOU so much for the beautiful, thoughtful posts you share with us.

Your words and indepth explanations have been such a blessing to me, especially in this past month.

Thank you for allowing God to use in this profound way.

In Him,

lori said...

SOMEONE is trying to TELL me something...I just heard this geese story LAST weekend at church...hmmmm...Beautiful Laurie Ann and the visual is spot on! Thank you so much for the obvious time and heart you pour into each post!

Anonymous said...

Thank you SO much for sharing today! Thank you for relating your heartache with infertility with others. I am sure you will have those reading who can relate. I was blessed reading your post.

L Harris said...

I have two "grandmas" from our church who are so wonderful to come and help with my workload. :) Sometimes they fold laundry, or they read to the kids or we just have coffee.

Jensmere said...

Thanks for your thoughts...and for adding "and thus fulfill the law of Christ".

Bless you,