I write this not because it is easy for me, but because it is necessary for me. As much as I say I long for rest or heaven or peace or just ONE problem free day, I have become increasingly aware of how I make my own life harder.
There is meant to be opposition in this life. We are going to have problems. Yet there are some burdens we are not meant to carry at all. I cling to some of those burdens like…like I have free time. I cling to them like I need them. I cling to them like they are supporting me instead of dragging me down. Some burdens are difficult to carry precisely because they are not meant for us.
It started with a scripture story I heard from a preacher on the radio. Peter and John were on their way to pray at the temple. They passed a lame man whose friends had brought him to beg. When he caught the eye of the apostles and asked, expectantly for money… they responded “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
The man took their hands and leaped up and entered the temple praising God. He did not sit back down and look at his empty hand. He didn’t wonder about the years he had never walked. He leaped up and praised God. There is so much to learn in that story, but what I’ve been thinking about is how the man had assumed he would stay lame. He assumed that was a burden he would always carry. Have I been making assumptions about which burdens I am supposed to carry? I started praying and thinking and studying and discovered there are some burdens no one but Christ is meant to carry.
I quickly thought of a burden we are never meant to carry : Offense.
Every human interaction and every online discussion holds such great potential for offence. We are ALL very good at taking offence! It’s not just the crazy people over there who are offended by the silliest little things. We would do well to take up the high level adult skill of ‘dodging offence.’ When you see something or hear an offensive comment coming, DODGE. It’s great exercise!
The most common thing I exercise…patience. What dodging technique do you prefer? Do you ignore it? Do you think of how the person offending must be having an awful day to be saying something so clearly mean and wrong? Do you use a set response “That’d be sad if that were true”? Do you laugh? How much of our offense can we simply outrun or OUT WALK with the offense trying pitifully to catch up like a mean little snail.
Turn away. Don’t respond…DODGE! The price of your peace for the day may be as simple as scrolling past something that you do NOT need to engage in. Offense seems to be waiting for us around every turn. Sometimes it’s personal. When someone sees you through a glass darkly. DO NOT take on that vision as reality. They are clearly hurting or suffering to act the way they are. They are not seeing clearly. Do not react to a faulty vision. It’s alternate reality. Much of this burden can be reduced as we refuse to pick it up in the first place. It’s not ours.
Even as we develop our dodging techniques, we can still become offended. Perhaps the shot was just too direct. Perhaps you were tired and worn down by a hundred other things. Perhaps it snuck up on you and hit very deeply. Perhaps it was someone we thought understood us and even cared for us. Offence is painful. Very painful. It can distract us from reality; leaving us in a constant state of spinning our wheels in anger with a very muddled mind. It makes us feel alone and hurt.
Regain yourself as quickly as possible and take whatever offence you have been hit with and accept the Lord’s invitation to leave your burden on Him. Don’t succumb to the desire to share it to get sympathy or followers or pity. Don’t hold onto it hoping the other person will someday notice they have hurt you and provide a grand apology.
The burden of offense is not yours, it never was. Give Him ALL of your offenses. ALL of the pain and misunderstanding and betrayal and attacks. Give Him the insults and bullying. Give Him the rudeness. Give Him the abuse.
Jesus asks us to “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. It sounds so beautiful, but perhaps you have kept your offence, or held onto your pain, because you have found out that it’s followed by Matthew 29 “Take my yoke upon you and learn of me”.
You wanted to drop your burden off with a list of suggestions on how Jesus should nurture it…and Jesus offers a final trade. He will take our offense and deal with the offender in His own way and in His own time. Then He offers us His beautiful yoke in return.
Sometimes we fail to make the trade because we see that His yoke is labeled ‘forgiveness.’ It looks a lot like letting the other person get away with it. They haven’t changed. It’s not fair! We forget that Jesus has taken on our burden and will judge (and LOVE) that person.
We forget so easily, that us carrying the burden of offence NEVER punished the other person at all. We repeat their words in our head and to others as if highlighting and establishing this burden somehow helps. Do you carry someone else’s pain in the hopes that they will feel it? We KNOW that doesn’t work. But we keep hoping the other person will somehow suffer by our suffering. Then our anger increases as they mystically don’t notice at all.
Sometimes we get used to the attention and pity and accept that instead of allowing healing and forgiveness. We identify ourselves by our offense instead of remembering we are children of God who are meant for peace and joy. We forget that we can only get to healing and peace through forgiveness. We want to pick and choose great suffering for the other person…forgetting that our idea of vengeance is far from peace or love or joy.
PLEASE leave your burdens with Jesus. Stay with Jesus until you can. As you leave your burden…you will discover the yoke of forgiveness is blissfully, peacefully, light and comes with incomparable healing. Refuse to trade back when you notice the offender is not suffering. ENJOY that YOU are not suffering.
Let that be enough. If you do accidentally pick it back up…drop it again and again and again. Jesus will trade as many times as we will. He is infinitely patient. If you cling to the yoke Jesus offers…life will be possible. And. joyful. Some day in the future you may notice that part of your healing will be a desire for the other person to feel the love of God.
There are other burdens we aren’t meant to carry. Christ died for our sins, He is already carrying those for us. There are unique burdens in our lives that Christ would happily carry if we would let Him. If we come to Christ regularly He may surprise us in the burdens He takes and the burdens He helps us carry.