Have you ever felt crushed by the weight of life?
Every day, we each carry a backpack filled with weights. No one else can carry our backpack for us. Some of these weights are God-given, some are picked up along the way by us.
An overly heavy backpack may include the plans, commitments, and responsibilities that we are taking care of in our own strength. It includes less tangible feelings of worry, fear, guilt, shame, and unrealistic expectations of ourselves. Social comparison is another common weight.
Add to that the weight of being repeatedly exposed to tragedy in the news and social media: car accidents, illness, shootings, political division, racial tension, natural disasters, homelessness, and war abroad. When suffering hits close to home among our family or friends, the weight of our backpack multiplies many times over.
Even if life is going well, we may feel a tinge of guilt for our good fortune.
All these weights accumulate and add up. When we carry too many at the same time, it can cause us to buckle under the excess weight, leading to exhaustion and burnout. The good news is that the daily load that God allocates for us is not a crushing one.
In Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NIV). The Message translation reads, “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Learning to Live More Freely
How heavy is your backpack today? When is the last time you felt free and light? Believe it or not, this is what God wants for us. There is a marked difference between the light load that God intends for us to carry, and the burdensome load that we try to carry on our own.
In his book Get Your Life Back, John Eldredge lays out the practice of benevolent detachment, where we stop, pray, and surrender whatever is bothering us to God. He writes, “We are aiming for release, turning into the hands of God whatever is burdening us and leaving it there…” I have found his free app, the One Minute Pause App, to be immensely beneficial in guiding this process in as little as one to three minutes.
In essence, benevolent detachment is saying to God, “I give everyone and everything to You.”
Consider this practice the next time that you:
- feel stressed or overwhelmed
- encounter situations out of your control
- see suffering that grips your heart
- get home from work and before entering the house
- go to bed
Yes, benevolent detachment is much easier said than done, but this is key for us to live the unburdened lives that God intends for us.
Many times, it takes a decline in our mental or physical health before we realize that there is a problem. Sometimes God allows us to overload our backpacks. It is the only way that we will go to Him in need. Otherwise, we continue walking around with backpacks that are much heavier than we can carry and fail to see anything wrong.
God stands ready and willing to take these extra weights from us when we are ready. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (NIV). Let us not allow our overly heavy backpacks to distance ourselves from God, but to draw closer to Him today.
Make a list of all the weights that you are currently carrying. Which ones are God-ordained, and which are not? Pray that God would give you the ability to shed or surrender excess weight to Him.
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3 (NIV)