One day, two monks were walking through the countryside. They were on their way to another village to help bring in the crops. As they walked, they spied an old woman sitting at the edge of a river. She was upset because there was no bridge, and she could not get across on her own.
The first monk kindly offered, “We will carry you across if you would like.”
“Thank you,” she said gratefully, accepting their help.
So the two men joined hands, lifted her between them and carried her across the river. When they got to the other side, they set her down, and she went on her way.
After they had walked another mile or so, the second monk began to complain. “Look at my clothes,” he said. “They are filthy from carrying that woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff.” The first monk just smiled and nodded his head.
A few more miles up the road, the second monk griped again, “My back is hurting me so badly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river! I cannot go any farther because of the pain.”
The first monk looked down at his partner, now lying on the ground, moaning. Have you wondered why I am not complaining?” he asked. “Your back hurts because you are still carrying the woman. But I set her down five miles ago.”
That is what many of us are like in dealing with our families. We are that second monk who cannot let go. We hold the pain of the past over our loved ones’ heads like a club, or we remind them every once in a while, when we want to get the upper hand, of the burden we still carry because of something they did years ago.
Sometimes when I find it tough to accept myself, it’s because I’m on overload. When the needle on my stress-o-meter spikes, I catch myself cycling through past offenses. Recently, I couldn’t erase from my mind the image of a woman who hurt me. I lived and relived hurtful events. Stomach tension and throbbing headaches knocked me off my feet. Yikes! (Does anyone say, “Yikes!” anymore?)
But when I prayed, Christ told me to off-load the hurt to Him. That didn’t happen overnight (rat tails!). I invited Co-Co, my Comforter and Counselor, to a chat. He showed me her hurts and pain. He expressed an irrational compassion for her (double rat tails!).
He told me I’d been carrying her 5 miles too long. He invited me to forgive. When I softly told Him I was sorry for my attitude and the words we’d exchanged, His grace washed over me. Then my self-talk and acceptance shakily returned.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). We need to be kind to ourselves, forgiving others, and forgiving ourselves as Christ has forgiven us.
What burdens are you carrying right now? How do you off-load hurts to Jesus?
Imagine the possibilities!
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