When I was a teenager, burnt CDs were the thing. If a boy made you a burnt CD, geez almighty that meant you must be getting married. A whole burnt CD of Iron and Wine songs, and you know that boy was digging your chili. Gosh, kids these days… they just will never know the beauty of receiving a burnt CD as a gift from somebody haha. And I mean, let’s be real, I had one made for every mood of mine. I had Taylor Swift albums, High School Musical Mixes, one called “Depressing Love Songs”, and another called “Party, Get Loud”… the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, burnt CDs always met that day after much wear and tear that they would start skipping or get stuck on the same line and keep repeating over, and over, and over. My T Swift Fearless CD got to the point that it literally always repeated the same line, like a DJ Remix, on The Way I Loved You at “2 Am and I’m cursing your name.” I would have to press “next” and never hear the rest of that song, because it couldn’t move past that one line.
Like my favorite Taylor Swift CD became after lots of wear and tear in my silver Escape, Angie, I have found myself the last couple of weeks saying over and over, on repeat, “It’s always something.” Then followed every single time by a half-hearted giggle attempt to press “next”, all while adding another tally to my “things I would rather not have happening right now”. Slowly as the tallies add up, the weight I feel on my shoulders from the events of the past weeks weigh me down all before inevitably cracking. There is crying, there is anger, there is feeling like a victim, there is frustration and bad moods… no matter how the weight decides to unload itself, it none the less comes out and I have to sit and sift through all the reasons I feel this way.
I always end back up at the tally board.
It’s okay to be frustrated in days, or weeks, or even seasons of “one thing after the next”, where you feel like the same line is stuck on repeat. It’s okay to feel the burden of the world, because we are human and are going to experience the weight of humanity that only God can bear. But, the freedom in that is that we are not made to carry the weight. We are not made to keep tally or score of what has gone wrong in our day. Rather, we were wired to daily open our hands and release our cares and worries to a gracious God who is WAY better at carrying them for us, healing our wounds for us, fixing the things we can’t fix for FOR US. We just forget that we are made to NOT carry our burdens. Sounds silly when you say it out loud, right? We are literally created to worship God and daily remind ourselves of who he is and, because of how human we are, we are daily reminded of who we are not. But, we forget. Proper recognition of who God is leads to a beautiful relationship with him. It’s one that says, “I know where I stand and it’s at your feet, because you already conquered this. There is already victory.” But, again… we too often forget. We can’t, but He can. How liberating when we remember that, right? That’s why God says his mercies are new every day. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Steadfast, meaning He is constant and unwavering. New every morning, never ceasing, because he will never say “you have been stressed out one day too many.” That’s not how he works (thank goodness).
So, here I am fully aware of the freedom that comes with saying, “I can’t carry this today, Lord”, yet I find sometimes that even when I think I have released my cares and burdens, I never really did because I find myself back at the tally board counting the things that have gone wrong in the last month, two weeks… year, whatever your timeline on the tally board might be. If love keeps no record of wrongs, not only am I failing my earthly relationships when I keep tally of wrongs, but I am failing to acknowledge how good God is when I keep record of things I feel wronged in.
“Well God, this happened, and then this bill came, and then our car broke down, and then we fought about this, and then our tire popped, and then we fought again about all the things we are stressed about… are you there? Do you care? Are you honestly just watching this unfold? I think we have maxed out our tallies for the month.” Tally tally tally. Adding up all the things we feel unjustly wronged in, which will always end in a state of victimhood. Ouch, yikes. Who has been around people who live as the victim in everything? It’s hard to be around isn’t it? You want to get away from that real quick. Well, newsflash, if you’re keeping tallies of the bad things that have happened in the day, week, month… you’re no better. Remove the plank, my friends.
OOOWEEE, we are preaching this morning.
So, what’s my encouragement for you today? Be upset, cry a little bit in the bathroom to feel the weight of “another thing”, but then release it. And I mean actually release it. Not just a “God, I need you to fix this for me” prayer, while then sitting around watching for instant relief. And if it doesn’t come, tally. I mean, release it. God, you are working all things for your good. And, I know that you love me, therefore, this will end well. Somehow, some way, this will end with you receiving glory and shining through this situation.
Then, “next”. Enjoy the next song, sing it as loud and zealous as you possibly can without getting hung up on the last line that kept repeating. Feel the weight, pray, breathe, toss it up, and trek onward.
On a separate note, I want to say how absolutely devastated I am over the massacre in Las Vegas. I feel that weight, I have been trying to shake that burden, but I carry a righteous anger for innocent lives lost. Be angry about this, be shocked, be sad. I have been in shock for the last day, praying for Jesus to make himself known and turn this devastation into something beautiful… somehow. Far beyond my ability to comprehend how something so horrible could be made into something beautiful, I am still believing in it because that is who God is and that is his character. Good will rise from ashes. Pray, love, and now- more than ever- bite your tongue against arguments that aren’t worth having in the midst of people’s pain. Sure, let’s have necessary conversations when the wounds of devastation are not still gushing. Humility is recognizing your opinions don’t matter as much as love does.
Be kind, friends. Love people well. In the midst of chaos, in the midst of a time in this country where it feels like EVERYONE is on a different page about something, fight to love those who look different than you, act different than you, voted for somebody different than you *gasp*, have a different religion than you, kneel or stand during the National Anthem… Yeah, I am going there. I am hitting it all.
Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, asked or -how icky to even have to say it- deserves to be mindlessly murdered. I have seen such ignorant comments on social media about those who were lost, and I have wanted to vomit at some of them. Those were moms, dads, brothers, sisters, children, hard workers, dreamers… the list goes on, and all of those roles, relationships, and titles just ended in an instant. Let us be mindful of this. Let us be pushed toward love, without pointed fingers and without taking someone’s devastation as an opportunity to push opinions. I truly am speaking from both ends of the “political scale”, if you will. I could give two craps about who you voted for, what you believe, or what cause you fight for. I love and appreciate your passion. So let’s take that passion and put it toward loving people, of all kinds, and recognizing it’s ok for us to differ but it’s not okay for what just happened to happen. We can find unity in that. Let’s take a stand together in that.