Light and Heavy
Last week, I received a phone call I wasn’t expecting. I could tell in her voice immediately, this was not an ordinary call. She took a deep breath and said, “It’s Stage 4 Cancer.” There is no right way to hear those words.
I love my friend and mentor deeply, with my whole heart. Those words, “Stage 4 cancer,” seeped into my heart, bringing pain into a space meant for love.
This is what it is to be human. To love deeply. And to hurt deeply. Because love leaves me open, vulnerable to pain. I cannot have one without the other.
Light and Heavy
This is what happens in suffering. Our love mixes with pain and we must learn to carry them both on our journey. It is a heavy load.
How do we reconcile the heaviness of life with the lightness of God’s love?
Peter instructs us to, “Cast all your cares upon him,“ (1 Peter 5:7) and Jesus instructs us to, “Take my yoke upon you… for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:29-30) While my head knows this is what I should do, that Jesus is ready and able to carry the burden of my sorrow, my heart struggles to let go. There is no logic to this, but letting go of my sorrow to cast at Jesus’ feet feels like letting go of my friend. I don’t want to let go of my friend. I don’t want to let go of the heavy load of sorrow. So, what should I do?
What I have learned is that in order to carry heavy loads I must be honest with my pain. I must feel the heaviness of life with my head (trust Truth) and with my heart (trust Love). But I’ll tell you, in my own strength, I cannot do both. I need someone to help me.
Help to Carry the Load
Here in this struggle is where I find beauty in the pain. Jesus didn’t expect me to be able to cast my cares at his feet or to take his easy yoke. He knew I couldn’t do it. So he reached down from heaven to help me. I know this because he gave me the Comforter to guide my heart to where my head knows I must go. Jesus called him the Comforter, Advocate, or Helper. (John 14:16-17) Helper. The Helper will do the heavy lifting. Heavy loads. Easy yoke. Light and heavy.
Comfort in Presence
It is different to be on the other side this time. To be the one in the chair beside the bed, not the one in the bed. When I was the one in the bed, quoting truth to me was definitely helpful at times, but not always. (I’ll share more on this soon. There’s so much tell you about what I learned about when and when not to share scripture with a friend.) I knew the scriptures friends spoke to me and believed all of them. Sometimes, it brought comfort to hear truth even if it was difficult to accept or to understand in the midst of my circumstances. Sometimes, it just frustrated me.
I’ll tell what was always helpful: the presence of a friend. It was so comforting. Perhaps it was God’s way of giving me a tangible reminder of the presence of the Comforter who is always with me, even in places where my friends could not go. So now is the time to return the comfort that I received. I will be present for my friend.
I will be present to bring flowers.
I will be present to sit in silence near her and whisper truth when she’s ready to hear it.
I will be present to pray with her and for her.
I will be present to carry her heavy load to Jesus who can redeem it in his perfect time.
Like the friends who comforted me with their presence, I will give her my presence and hope that it reminds her of Love’s presence.
Stay Wide Open
During the coming months, I am determined to keep my heart wide open, to allow the Comforter to be present in my sorrow. I will wait for his arms of compassion to carry my heavy load. I will not dismiss the pain. I will walk this road with my heavy load honestly because I don’t know how else to walk anymore.
If you are facing a similar situation or if you are struggling to carry a heavy load, will you share that with me in the comments below? I’d like to pray for the presence of the Helper to comfort you too.