Jacob (8 years old) complained that his back-pack was SO heavy. He kept trying to get someone to carry it for him as we stood in line for baggage check at the airport. After his bag went through the scanner, the security agent asked to check it. “It seems like there might be rocks or something heavy in here,” the agent explained. “No,” said Jacob, “there are no rocks in there.” The security agent pulled out several rocks. “Oh, yea!” said Jacob proudly, “I forgot about that! Those are my rocks! I have a rock collection!”
As a kid, I handled family problems by checking on everyone to see if they were okay emotionally. If they weren’t – I worked hard to ‘fix it’. I felt responsible for everyone’s emotional state. A picture of this personality trait would be me with my arms full, carrying my sisters, my mom and my dad. Just like Jacob’s back-pack – this was MY rock collection.
As I entered adulthood, marriage and motherhood, each new person that entered my life would get scooped up and added to the heavy load I was already carrying.
Rather than being free to love those around me – I was slowly being crushed. The thought of ‘enjoying’ people was not on my radar.
“Why do you think you can control someone’s emotions?” my friend asked me. I thought I was ‘helping’, ‘taking care of’ or ‘being concerned’. I wasn’t ‘trying to control’….was I?
I realized that my actions were fear-driven. I believed people would only want a relationship with me if I didn’t disappointed or upset them. Keeping them happy, was a way to ‘control’ them so I wouldn’t feel abandoned.
By ‘carrying’ people – I was viewing them as weak; not able to handle their own challenges. It’s disrespecting them and keeps them emotionally handicapped in my mind.
Being honest with myself helped me make some changes in my behavior and attitude towards others.
I visualized setting down ALL the people in my life that I was carrying. I verbalized the fact that I was loved, not because I did all the right things and kept people happy, but because God says He loves me just like I am. Then, I viewed these people as strong human beings; able to handle the challenges of life.
And there I stood with empty arms – feeling much lighter! That’s when it hit me: now that my arms were empty, I was free to hug my grandchildren, help a friend, put my arms around someone that was hurting and really love my family and friends.
What’s in your back-pack? Are you carrying around rocks that make your life uncomfortably heavy? It’s time to SET IT DOWN and free yourself up to really love and care for those around you?
Sue is the author of Grandma Sue’s Bible Adventures in Rhyme, and has her own blog.