I tend to get emotional in church. I feel a deep connection to others and to God when I am praying and singing and especially after receiving the Eucharist. When I’m going through a really bad time, I don’t get emotional in church. This is a red flag that something is really wrong. Of course, I’m human, and some days even when I’m fine, I’m less connected than others. That’s what made this morning really special.
I was distracted. There is a lot going on right now. It’s August so work is crazy and we’ve got money issues (worse than usual) and we were surrounded by active and loud (though cute and well parented) small children in the nearby pews. As we stood for the Gospel, I realized that I hadn’t actually listened to the first or second reading. During the homily, I spaced out for a while and found myself thinking about a long to-do list for the afternoon. Just after I brought myself back to the present, my prayers were interrupted by some off-key and rather loud singing. I glanced over to my right and saw a mother with her mentally challenged young adult son who was really getting into the song. I’ve seen them before and I always offer a prayer for her strength and patience because I can’t imagine how hard her life must be.
Along with my usual prayer this morning came the little thought that I don’t know how I would handle that situation. And God spoke to me. As clearly as if He whispered in my ear. “You don’t have that burden.” And it was like the Grinch when his heart grew two sizes. I literally felt my heart expand in gratitude that I didn’t have that burden. I have a lot of burdens. Life has been really difficult lately and I have been very discouraged. But I don’t have that burden. I have a beautiful, athletic, intelligent, self-sufficient son who is healthy in mind and body. All of a sudden, I could see (if only for a moment) all the burdens I don’t have. What a different perspective… There is such a long list! I felt such relief at all the burdens that I don’t have. And then God told me to be grateful.
We are told to ask God for what we need. (Ask, and it shall be given unto you). I have been praying constantly for God to take care of the problems we are facing, and He has provided some real tangible help in the last several weeks, but just yesterday I was praying, “Thank you God for what you have done. If you could keep that up, we can make it through this difficulty. Please don’t stop now.”
Today I stopped my pleading and tried to just be glad for all the burdens that I do not have. I have been thankful all day. And I have been thinking about Matthew, Chapter 11 (although I didn’t know that was the book or chapter – I had to Google it. I know my Bible, but I don’t often know where specific words appear… I never learned chapter and verse as a kid.)
28 Come to me all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.
29 Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls
30 Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.
In a way, letting go of even asking God for help today has been a special gift of rest. God knows what we need right now. I have seen answers to my constant, fearful requests. More importantly today, I heard an answer to a prayer I didn’t even know I had. In the still small whisper: a message of calm and a reminder of my many gifts.