I carry a heavy load and you probably do too.
I have my own stuff. My own baggage. My own responsibilities and concerns and the stuff that is mine. My backpack is pretty full.
But then I start to add to my load.
I take on the hurts or responsibilities of my children.
I hear my husband’s concerns and add them to my heart and to my backpack.
I want to help those around me both by practically supporting and helping them and by sharing in and helping carry their burdens.
The result can be unhealthy. I can end up with a backpack full of stuff that doesn’t belong to me. And y’all, that stuff gets heavy.
It weighs on me. I can start to think about it all the time. I can’t sleep. I can’t function because I’ve taken on too much. I care too much.
A friend recently shared with me this analogy of the backpack.
I’ve started the practice of thinking every single day and several times a day about what belongs in my backpack and what does not.
I regularly sit down with people to talk about problems or projects that need to be sorted out a bit. I’ve learned that this is something that I am able to do well for people, so it’s starting to happen a lot. They start unpacking their own backpack onto the table right there in front of me. Friends, family and coworkers.
In an effort to help, I have often taken things from the table and left the room with those things in my backpack.
For a child, it may be that I took ownership of a scholarship application that wasn’t mine. I’m actually hindering their learning of responsibility in doing that.
For another child, I may be feeling the weight of their hurt about a situation even more so than they are. My mother heart hurts and so I carry that hurt around, let it turn to worry, and let it weigh me down.
For a coworker, I may see how to remedy a problem they have and offer to do three things to fix it rather than leaving a suggestion of three things they can do on their own to fix it. I pick up projects that aren’t mine.
For a friend, I am quick to jump in when something is hard for them and am tempted to offer help in a way that is more than I have time to give.
You can’t carry a heavy backpack for too long.
Lately each time I’ve been stressed, I’ve thought about what is in my backpack. Each time I sit down with people that I want to help, I think about how to help them not just in the short term but also in the long term.