My pastor told me a story about a man he knew who had been a paratrooper in WWII. Before they dropped into France, the paratroopers were given the chance to pick whatever weapons they wanted, whatever they could carry from the warehouse. This man, Perry, picked one gun with a spare clip. Most of the other soldiers weighed themselves down with every last thing they could carry, determined to protect and defend themselves. Perry said he knew he could get more from the fallen soldiers if he needed it, so he just took what he needed right then to survive.
When they dropped to the ground, the ones who had taken lots — as much as they could carry — broke their legs upon impact.
Ever feel like that? Like you’re carrying way more than you can handle? Oh, wait, of course you do — because you’re human.
I’m right there with you. I’m feeling the weight of many friends and acquaintances with life-threatening or life-altering health conditions—so many prayer needs. I feel the pressure to work more and make more money. The pressure I’m putting on myself to figure out my next writing project, to fulfill all my plans for updating my blog and creating monthly prayer calendars and keeping my own spiritual life in a good place. I am juggling deadlines and the desire to spend time with friends and the knowledge that I have a patient husband but he deserves to get intentional time with me. I’m wanting to spend time with my girls, who are both adults and moving into their adult lives, and with my son, who now no longer needs me to take him places since he can drive himself. And yet I have ad deadlines and a to-do list a mile long.
I’m hyper-organized, filling calendar squares carefully with minute-by-minute breakdowns of time. I’m quick to suggest letting go of anything that is not absolutely necessary and critical. I’m giving myself permission to leave piles of things in corners if I just don’t have time to deal with them. (Mind you, this is nothing new; I’m just finally giving myself permission to let it go.)
And although it is so easy to let my worries and fears and helplessness weigh me down, one positive thing I can say is at least I’m not holding on to too much. It’s all there, hovering at the edges of my consciousness. The weight of it is tremendous and not for the faint-of-heart. But if I allowed myself to carry it all around, to try to fix it all or bear the burden on my own, I’d be demolished on impact.
It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just that I know I’m not strong enough to let these things consume me. There will be times that I agonize over whether I’ve given my kids all the tools that they need to make wise choices. When I wonder if I’ve done my job well enough as a mom so that they’re prepared to step into the next phases of their lives. When I cry because I can’t fix the problems of my friends. When I wonder if I can get all of my work done, or if I’ll fail miserably and bankrupt myself. When I’m too tired to work and all I want to do is lie on the couch and escape into some fictional world.
I know I should pray. I know prayer helps. I know it changes things. It doesn’t have to be complicated. But there are times that even getting to spend time with the Lord feels too heavy, too hard. All I can do is close my eyes and offer up a wish-thought-prayer. Imagine myself floating down gracefully through the skies. Knowing that God has His hand on me, that He’s lifting the weight of my burdens so that I can soar gracefully rather than crash violently. Trusting that I’m not jumping into a frightening situation. Believing that I’m moving slowly toward just the place He has in mind for me — not as a soldier facing danger but as a skydiver who’s enjoying the ride.
And trying — tentatively, carefully — to open my eyes and realize that the view from here, from within the center of this journey, is spectacular. Always changing. A view I’d never get to see if I didn’t hand all of my worries to God. If I never left the plane in the first place.
All I have to do is take time to notice. Not be in such a hurry to land. And open my eyes wide.
Dear Lord, help me to appreciate the beauty from every single place you take me. Help me to trust in You and turn over what isn’t mine to carry. Help me to know that, while making that initial leap can be frightening, as long as You are with me (and You are always with me), the view will be spectacular. Thank You for who You are and all You offer me. Amen.