Released from Heavy Burdens
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
One of the lasting effects I have after contracting COVID-19 in the early summer is that I have a number of new physical symptoms when I get stressed. Too many things are piling up on my ‘to-do’ list. In some ways, I’m grateful that these physical warning signs are louder than those I had before. It’s a lesson in humility, and learning more of my limits and not kidding myself that I can do all the things that I think should be able to do.
And there are many things, I have discovered, that I tell myself I should be able to do.
My husband and I were recently watching a female preacher on television and I had a little moment of realization. Somewhere along the way, I had internalized the message that to fulfill the calling I believe God has given me to preach, I should be preaching like this particular pastor. I should be more extroverted, more dynamic, with better catchphrases and ways to remember key points. As I reflected on this lie, for that is what it was, I realized that I carried a number of ‘shoulds’ that were weighing me down: places where I had taken what God has given me, whether it’s my marriage, vocation, gifts or skills, and piled on top of them my expectations of what they should look like in practice. Expectations about things such as how my husband and I make our marriage work, how I word emails and how I prepare and deliver a sermon. And, I was burying myself under the weight of these expectations.
The self-proclaimed ‘shoulds’ we put on ourselves are heavy burdens to carry. They will cripple us if we don’t start releasing ourselves from their control. There are some things I’m called to do and there are things I’m not called to do. There are some things I’m called to do and yet that doesn’t mean I have to do them in the same way that my neighbor, colleague, friend or spouse does them. If I tried, that would be disingenuous. So I am slowly learning to release myself from the responsibility of being someone that I am not, to give myself permission to be me as God made me and is redeeming me: a child of God, created in His image and likeness and for His glory. God’s works are wonderful–and we are His works. Maybe one day I will know that “full well” as well.