When you or your hurting friend allow burdens of everyday life to weigh you down, pounds of stress pack on your soul. Joy flits away. So does peace of mind. You feel as crummy as a smashed Oreo cookie.
Years ago I thought that life -- as long as I did things reasonably well -- would be a breeze (or should be!). Ha! I learned the hard way that life happens.You know, when stuff gets tough:
a flat tire and no spare (anger), a sick kid at 2 a.m. (fear), a flooded basement (frustration), a loss of a friendship (sadness), a new Audi in your neighbor’s driveway (jealousy)!
None of us can choose our circumstances, but you can help your hurting friend choose her attitude. The same goes for you and me. It is not easy.
So often we women put on the weight of guilt, comparison and — yes — self-rejection, even though we are daughters of the King. Do you relate? Does your friend? On the upside, hope for losing the weight of over-burdened women like us is just one godly thought away.
What Not to Do
When my husband and I adopted our first child — she’s now 19-years old and in college — we were beyond excited. We pictured a happy baby who sometimes pooped, occasionally cried, and always wanted snuggles. And for the first three weeks of her little life, Laura did just that.
Then, on infamous "Day 22", Laura has not a happy baby, and Steve and I were not happy parents. Laura had colic. But, we didn’t know that at first. When she screamed (out of nowhere!) Steve glared at me and gave me advice. (Aren’t guys good at that!) He said I might be holding her wrong or giving her too much milk, or too little, or providing her too much stimulation or not enough. I just thought I was a bad mother.
My real problem: poor thinking. My focus was on me, me, and me. Yet the Bible says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5, NIV, here and below). I had read this verse dozens of times but didn’t put it into action. I held tight to selfish negativity.
After Julia and John joined Laura, I continued to have negative thoughts like:
" Why is her baby so easy and mine so fussy?"
“Why is my kid the “clingy” one who cries when I drop her off at preschool?”
“How come my little guy can’t keep up with the other toddlers? They can set one block on another, they can string beads. Why can’t mine?”
My pity party partied on:
“What about me? When do I get a break? From spilled juice to mounds of laundry to unfinished baby albums to you-name-it! I never get it right, it seems.”
I focused on me. Me. And me. I rarely chose a Christ-like attitude. I was selfish, stubborn, and burdened with weight.
Why Life Weighs You Down
Your hurting friend is probably weighted down too. She may have tons of debt, a bad marriage, or no marriage and she wants a husband.Yesterday! She may have health problems or enduring nasty office politics. Or worse. Or her pain may come from the inside. Does your friend feel inadequate? Overwhelmed? Confused? Does loneliness cling to her like a wet wool blanket?
Yeah, I know these feelings. Every woman does.
Unfortunately, we often fail to identify our real need: Jesus. Instead, we may play the martyr and get busy. Busyness at church can look super spiritual, can’t it? The distraction of busyness is among Satan’s prettiest temptations and ugliest lies. Sometimes we choose another addiction.
A No-Fail Weight-Loss Plan
While my life like yours has crazy-busy days, I’m learning to sit at the feet of Jesus. Remember the story of Martha and Mary of Bethany? Jesus stopped by to visit, and Martha felt burdened to make a feast. She made quite a fuss in the kitchen. Imagine banging pots and pans, huffs and puffs. She grumbled, telling Jesus to have Mary help her.
You see, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, hanging on to his every word. She really wanted to know him. Martha chose busyness, she chose distraction, and she chose a bad attitude. And how did Jesus answer Martha? He said, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42).
While I don’t have this all figured out, I remember Jesus’ invitation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Rest. Don’t you just love this word and all that it means? To me it means calm and contentment. It means peace.
Jesus wants to give us rest. To help your hurting friend receive it:
First, encourage her to shed the weight of over thinking. Help her to stop trying to figure things out and, instead, tell her burdens to Jesus. She needs to have godly sorrow for failing to control her thoughts and agree with him to make a change.
Second, encourage her to trust Him. This means that when life happens — and it will — she needs to resist the temptation to get busy or close down. Instead look upward. Compared to God’s glory, one's burdens will seem tiny. . .light. . .of nothing.
Third, brainstorm with your hurting friend how she can choose a Christ-like attitude. Next time when she feels angry, sad, or frustrated, she needs to ask herself, How would Jesus respond? Then she needs to carry through with her insight as long as it lines up with biblical truth.
Fourth, encourage her to renew her thinking. One way is for her to listen to her self-talk. Is she saying things to herself that are true and uplifting? Or is she bashing herself, her husband, a boss or someone else with her thoughts? Once she recognizes that she is doing this, she must stop. She must replace the lies with the truth.
Fifth, continue to pray for your hurting friend and to listen to her hurts. Watch for sinful patterns and lovingly help her see them and decide to change.
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).