Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Picking Back Up My Burden

Picking Back Up My Burden

Backpacking with Cooper a month before he left for Ecuador

After my second son Cooper left on Wednesday, I came home and had to pick back up my burden of sadness.  The last two days before he left were wonderful... God had let me place that burden on Him for that time.  I was enabled and it was easy and happy, but now it is time for me to learn to carry it again.

I have been thinking a lot about this...
trying to understand why sometimes we are carried
and why at other times we feel more of the load

Teaching Cooper to ride a bike

On my run this morning, my thoughts were carried back to the process of teaching my last son to ride a bike...

At first I let him use training wheels.  He learned to steer and how to peddle... how to brake and how to start to balance. When he was zipping around fairly confidently, I raised the training wheels.  At first,  he complained that the bike felt unstable.  I told him to just ride like he normally did.  I showed him how the training wheels would eventually catch him if he wobbled too far to either side.  With renewed faith in the training wheels, he began to gain his confidence again as he was able to correct his balance prior to the training wheel catching him.  

After a few more weeks of practice, the socket set came out and the training wheels were removed.  Wide eyed and with apprehension clearly showing on his face, he mounted the bike.  I promised that I would hold on to the seat of his bike and run beside him.  As we started, he kept turning around to see if I was still holding on like I had promised.  Each time he checked, he swerved his bike.  I told him to trust me and to focus on the road ahead.  I told him to keep doing everything he had been doing before.  

As his began to have faith in my ability to protect him from a fall, he began to focus again on riding the bike.  Soon I was running along side, offering words of encouragement.  I felt him regain control of his balance.  My hand was still on the bike, yet I knew he was no longer relying on me.  Gradually I let go of the seat, checking to see if he was stable on his own.  I kept my hand very near so that I could catch him in an emergency, and so that he did not know that I had let go.  He continued to ride on his own.  Then a wobble came and I reach up to correct the bike before he completely lost control.  
"Mom!"  He replied, "You weren't holding on!"
To his accusation I responded, 
"But I was right there, and I caught you when you needed me."  Then I encouraged him, "You were riding on your own! Let's try again."
Again he mounted the bike, and we started by me holding on.  He gained momentum and soon I was running along side, yelling ,
"You're doing it!  You're doing it!"  
My son's face beamed with confidence and he pulled out of ahead of my stride.

We cannot ride forever with training wheels.  We cannot ride forever with our mother or father holding on to the seat.  Eventually the goal is to learn to ride the bike on our own.
Cooper and his dad after success!          .       

Then my mind went to the last bike ride we went on as a family....

I was feeling the burden of sadness that day as well.  As we biked I thought about the process of going up the hills and then coasting down. One particular hill was quite long and my legs were beginning to burn as I near the top.  I saw the parallels between my climb and the sadness I felt.  As I crested the hill and began to peddle down, I was struck by the ease of the downward travel...

           Speeding along... 
covering more distance with little effort. 

Cooper and Eric on our family bike ride
I saw a pattern... that times of struggle and greater effort where covering distance seemed to be slow and exhausting were always followed by period of enablement where covering the distance seemed easy.  As much as I wanted to ride downhill all of the time, I knew it was the uphill battles that increased my endurance and strengthened my muscles allowing me to travel further and faster in the future.

Then I thought of my current run...

I was about half way done with the loop around the island and my legs were beginning to tire.  My emotional state coupled with my tired muscles made we want to throw in the towel and just walk the rest.  

The thought came to my mind... 
                             "Don't give up yet... 
you still have more in you.
It's the part you run past the point when you want to give up that makes you stronger."

"I still have more in me..."

I was feeling emotionally tired and I wanted to throw in the emotional towel and be done.... 
"Carry me for a while,  I'm tired..." I plead
The response was clear, "Don't give up yet... you still have more in you... It's the part you endure that makes you stronger."
I decided to push myself instead of walking.  

I don't know why... 
maybe just to prove to myself that my spirit was stronger than my body,
that my will could be stronger than my feelings.

I ran until a cramp in my side left me gasping for air.  I walked the cramp off with my arms up in the air and then finished running the final stretch.

Three experiences all tied together and rolled into one...
(Life has lots of patterns that can teach you lessons if you are looking carefully.)

This is the way I see growth....

  • We STRUGGLE with a new situation or problem.
  • As we turn to God for help and seek for answers and understanding, we begin to GROW.
  • Because we are asking, we RECEIVE BLESSINGS and help from God to move forward. 
  • Obedience is easy when we are enabled and BASKING in that light and those blessings.
  • Then comes greater OPPOSITION, extra burdens may be placed on us to test what we have learned and to see if we can continue to be obedient even with added resistance.
  • We may feel some of that HELP, Spirit, light or enablement LESSEN as His hand is removed from the seat.
  • If we REMAIN FAITHFUL and keep pushing up the hill, past the point where we want to give up, we climb to a NEW SPIRITUAL HEIGHT and we are back to receiving blessings and the process starts again.
If we continue in faith, knowing that the hill will end and that the down hill will come, this become a way to grow... 
"grace for grace"- John 1:16
We move forward climbing a hill and coasting down then climbing another.

If we give up, if we don't push through, then later we find ourselves back trying to learn the same lesson again.  The cycle of repeating the same lesson can be a painful one, but eventually we learn to continue through and growth comes.  It just takes a lot longer.

When I am on that upward climb, when I am tired and want to give up, when I feel that hand release and I feel afraid that I will fall, I have to remember....

  • Hills don't last forever
  • I am stronger than I think
  • I have learned what to do, I just have to keep doing it even when it is hard
  • The downhill will come if I continue to climb.
It is easy to be good and do good in the light,
  the test is can I still do it when it is dark and hard.

Q: Will I press forward with faith and hope for the reward in store?
A: a resounding yes!

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