When I could no longer buckle my seatbelt without wincing in pain, I knew I had a problem. Whether it was the ergonomically incorrect way I shoveled snow or the awkward yoga poses I was trying to master, the cause was never truly going to be deciphered without my attention. In order to discover the cure, I needed to make some changes.
You see, my shoulder had been twinging a little on and off for a while, but I ignored the pain. It was hard some days to wrangle myself into compression clothing to exercise, but I forgot about the discomfort as I headed out the door to my next great adventure. Every morning I would think, I should do something about this… and then get distracted. That is, until I could no longer ignore the pain.
Isn’t this how life is? We have twinges we ignore, busy being our best selves. Little stabs of physical or emotional pain we think will just disappear if we redirect our focus somewhere else. In some cases this works. With my shoulder, turning a blind eye to the pain was no longer a tenable solution. I had to take active steps to find healing for whatever had gone wrong.
Needle avoider that I am, I looked at all possible sources of irritation that I could discover without professional help. I settled on a strategy of changing one small thing at a time.
I changed how I buckled up. That was not the problem. I changed my clothes, more button and less overhead movement. Nope, not that either.
Until one day a lightbulb went off. You will laugh when I tell you what solved my problem.
It was my purse!
Yep, the junk I was toting with me all day long. All my “just in case” stuff. You know, the extra snacks in case I get hungry and can’t find a Chick-Fil-A. The book I need to entertain myself if I have to wait. The notebook, the back up battery in case my cell phone dies, and pens. The unspeakable number of lip glosses, lipsticks, and detritus at the bottom of the bag that normally does not see the light of day. When you think of the items individually, they are insignificant. Yet, added together— they weighed a ton!
So, I dug out a small bag from the back of my daughter’s closet and began strategically filling it with only the vitals. You know what I discovered— you guessed it— I did not miss the things I left behind. All the “just in case” stuff was an unnecessary burden.
Recently, I ran across someone else who was an expert and leaving burdens behind. In the first chapter of Abide we discover Mary Magdalene grieving for her friend Jesus. She is weighed down by immense pain, burdened by the fact that life did not turn out as she thought it was supposed to. So many thoughts ran through her mind in the days following His crucifixion. In her pain, she takes oils and spices to His tomb in order to tend to Him and finish preparing His body according to custom.
As she arrives, Mary discovers the tomb is empty. Instead of grasping tightly to the bottles and jars holding onto her “just in case” or her “what might have been”, she looks for Jesus. As she hears Jesus call her name, “Mary”, she falls to the ground. “She must have laid her burden down at the tomb. Mary could neither run with her hands full, nor could she reach out and touch Jesus if she were still holding on to her vision of what was “supposed” to happen. Mary was nimble enough to pivot.” (Abide, Putting It Into Practice page 15).
With empty hands Mary Magdalene embraces Jesus’ feet. What are the oils and spices you need to set down, what burdens are weighing on you?
Imagine placing each burden in its own box. Write the name of the burden on a tag and tie each box up with a pretty bow. Now, take all the boxes and rest them in a pile next to the cloths Jesus folded and left behind following His resurrection. Walk away and look for Jesus, for He has been raised. (Mark 16:6)
As you leave these burdens behind, you are then liberated to reach out and touch Jesus in a new way.
If you would like to join an online discussion group to talk about Abide, I created a Facebook group entitled Abide Book Discussion. I will include videos, answer questions, and provide encouragement for anyone who wants to join in. The discussion begins October 6. Search on Facebook for Abide Discussion Group and ask to join. I look forward to seeing you there. If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.