Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Excess Baggage ~ Part 2

So my question from yesterday, have you ever felt like you were carrying around more than you could handle?

Perhaps it was excess stuff weighing you down—burdens, extra responsibilities, people? Some of this “stuff” may not be bad, it may even be helpful, but sometimes too much good, bad timing or more than we can handle at one time can become burdensome.

My carrier and diaper bag are a great help, they were assets to me that day. But for that period of time they were definitely a burden.

Some times we women take on more than we can chew. We take on more than God and even our husbands ask of us. This could be a ministry, a service, extra work, a class at the co-op, watching a child for a friend—whatever, they are not bad things. They are good, helpful ways to serve family, friends and our Christian family.

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 I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Perhaps you, like me, acknowledge this verse, but then continue to walk under the heavy burdens you’ve laid on yourself. Maybe someone else has done the laying on. We pay lip service to the validity of the scripture, but we do nothing to evaluate our own weighted pile to see if some things should be set aside for this season.

Evaluation is a good thing to do periodically.

Evaluate our walk with the Lord to see if it is thriving or stagnate. Evaluate how we come along our husbands as their help meet to see if we are truly being a help to them. Evaluate our relationship with our children to honestly know who and what has their hearts—their focused attention. Evaluate our home education, home keeping, home making. Evaluate outside the home jobs, activities, and classes.

Everything needs to be evaluated occasionally to help us keep on track. To keep us on the track that God has laid out before us, not necessarily the one we think we see in the distance and what are our own ideas on how to get there.

Sometimes we are burdened by the excess of fun, like the colorful balloons I entangled myself in Saturday.

There is a lot of fun to be had. Some worldly and some not so much. I believe wholeheartedly that God wants us to enjoy the life He has gifted us. He wants us to enjoy our life in Him and our relationship with the others He has placed on our path.

But perhaps the art, music, and dance classes are crowding out “the joy of the Lord”. Maybe commitments to drama, sports and even church or community service programs have put you on edge. Just too much “gone” time can be a hindrance in completing our responsibilities around the home. Too much friend, computer, gaming and t.v. time may seem like the way to be a fun mom to our kids, but our family life and their character could suffer in the process.

Sometimes the extra burdens we put on ourselves are from unrealistic expectations. I know that I personally struggle big time with this one. What is colorful and beautiful in one family may not work as wonderfully in my own.

We are not the same, our husbands do not lead in the same way and each family has a different life purpose to accomplish for God. The way in which this is all done could look very different. Trying to put on me and my family what I see working in someone else’s could be not only an uncomfortable fit but a pointless burden that leads us down the wrong path.

The main problem with all of this excess baggage is not so much the baggage itself, but the problems that they cause along the way. I kept stumbling over my diaper bag and carrier. They were heavy and awkward. I struggled with being literally tied up to the balloons. They were no longer symbols of fun.

Burdens can be heavy, awkward and tie us down.

Our extra burdens—our unwarranted tasks and responsibilities not given us by God—rob us of our joy. They rob us of our energy. They rob us of our time and focus. They rob us of our plans, purposes and goals.

My three children were not the problem that day. It is simply childish behavior to wait too long for the bathroom. It is simply childish curiosity to want to see someone do something you’ve never seen or done before. It is simply childish boyhood to want to investigate a noisy truck with gadgets. It is simply childishness when one is a small child and is looking at this world that is so full of unknown adventures that are waiting to be explored. This is brain budding creativity at its finest! To them it was not a loud, smelly, dirty truck there to do a job that no one really wants to be near while in the “doing”.

My problem was not my children, but in the change of my attitude that I allowed in the circumstances of my surroundings—the hot weather and my problemsome burdens.

Who did I get short-tempered with? Not the man cleaning the toilets. Not the diaper bag and carrier. Yes, I think I did yell at the balloons—almost yanked them off my wrists in fact to set them free—but that’s not the point! :)

The point is I let my burdens rule over my fleshly self. I did not mother in a way that pleased myself or my God at that moment.

Now...I understand that we all have our moments and this was definitely cause to be one of them! I am not trying to add more burden to you or to me with what I am sharing. But fail as I will, I don’t particularly like it. Funny as this story may have sounded as you read it (and really it was even funnier now that I look back on living it) my shortness with my children wasn’t funny to me.

Will they survive? Absolutely. In fact, they probably don’t even remember my ugly tone of voice. They are probably only thinking about the man and his truck! But I remember the tone of voice I used and the words I used with it. I know that they were not being disobedient...they were just being small children. I wasn’t completely falling apart as a mother the entire day and this was just one other example of my shortness with them.

This was an event that clearly showed me the negative effects that excess burden can have on my disposition towards others in my life.

Obviously this little adventure has spurred me on to re-evaluating things around here: Our activities as well as the goals and plans that my husband and I have for our family and where we are on the path today.

Are there things that were contributing to the journey before, but seem to be getting in the way now? Is this a season to make some changes—add a little or drop a little? Do the outside activities meet with God’s blessing? Do they today bless our family or are we only doing them because we want to make life fun or fair for all? Do I struggle in feeling tied down to something that tangles up other areas of my life?

There are a lot of questions to ask this week because excess burdens steal joy, kill family time and destroy God’s given purposes for our lives. No wonder we grow weary!

An extra little funny I thought I’d share about our outing on Saturday. That evening as we were gathered around the table at my parent’s house visiting, I shared with my family our little escapade for the day. (At that point I was ready to laugh about it myself!) When I was done my sister sheepishly shared with me that she was told later that there was a small bathroom facility located near the stage and food vendors---The bathroom building for the park with real toilets and running water. Yep, you guessed it, only a few yards away from the playground. We just never noticed it. I guess it didn’t jump out to us like those green porta-potties.

Well, this way God was able to give me a little burden check up and we entertained half of the people at the park that day, not to mention the Honey Bucket man and my family later that evening.

Who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? :)

(Excess Baggage ~ Part 1)