In our family, I have a very special and coveted title. I am the holder of all the things: the discarded sweatshirts, the muddy shoes, the unneeded hats, the random rocks, precious leaves, pre-chewed gum, tiny little reward stars, water bottles, tissues, backpacks. There is no limit to what I can hold. It is my super power. I can hold things.
You might have this super power as well. Does that “hey can you hold this?” question elicit your outstretched arm too? It’s some kind of natural parent reflex. And maybe you, like me, have tried to be tough and firm and insist that your people carry their own junk. Maybe you’ve tried to institute an “everyone must pick up one thing” rule. And maybe it actually worked for you (if it did please share your secret).
Me, though, I have no follow through. The craziness of life with three boys and sports and all the trappings that go with this season we are in means that there is a lot to carry no matter where we are headed.
I just want to get where we are going with some measure of sanity. So I hold. I carry and I push onward because … Do you know what time it is? Hurry up! We are going to be late again! Because that.
I am the holder all the things because I want to move fast, to control the end result and navigate the obstacles without having to backtrack.
I hold things because I feel responsible for them. And being good and responsible is my gig; so I grasp it all tightly and on we go.
Now, this is all well and good until “the things” become too much to carry. Until the groceries, the jackets, the random art projects and the shoes that fill my car become a pile wider than my arms can stretch. Until I trip over a misplaced bike and erupt the contents of my car across the garage floor. Yeah.
And it is right in the middle of my rant about people who don’t carry their own stuff that I realize … this isn’t a great title. I can’t keep being the holder of all the things.
“Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me … for my yoke is easy and my burden is light“( Matthew 11:28-30). Jesus said these words to a generation who carried more than just random car junk. They carried the weight and the burden of the Jewish law upon their shoulders. They were a generation who thought they could earn their way to God in all the good and the law following that they did. But Jesus turned that upside down. “Come to me … take my yoke … it is easy and light. Come to me.”
This verse runs through my head as my people come racing to help Mom. Mom, who has lost a little of her mind over all the things she is trying to carry. They apologize and make quick exits toting their own stuff up the basement stairs. But I don’t feel any lighter.
“Come to me all of you who are weary and burdened.” Weary and burdened; the verse keeps pushing through my head. I look around the garage and realize that there is nothing left for me to carry. But standing empty handed disorients me. I lean against the damp wall and feel it wash over me; the weight of all my heart is holding.
You know it too. The way that stuff in your arms isn’t the only stuff you hold. And the things in our hearts aren’t so easy to set down. That complicated friendship, the expectations of those we respect, the work that we do, the way we want to make others happy, hard decisions that need to be made; these all become things that we hold. We hold them tightly because we are good and responsible and we just know that carrying them from one place to the next will eventually result in a solution.
I am the holder of all the things because I always think I can. I overestimate my abilities and the width of my arms. I think I can. Until I can’t.
What now, Lord? I ask in the early evening darkness of the garage. What am I supposed to do with all these things?
I feel the Spirit move right through me as he whispers into my twisted heart. Drop them. Drop them all. They were never yours in the first place.
I kinda want to argue. Some of these things are mine! They are important! I have to hold them well! It is my job!