How to Set Down a Burden & Forgive

Written by on May 24, 2017

One day, two monks were walking through the countryside. They were on their way to another village to help bring in the crops. As they walked, they spied an old woman sitting at the edge of a river. She was upset because there was no bridge, and she could not get across on her own.

The first monk kindly offered, “We will carry you across if you would like.”

“Thank you,” she said gratefully, accepting their help.

So the two men joined hands, lifted her between them and carried her across the river. When they got to the other side, they set her down, and she went on her way.

After they had walked another mile or so, the second monk began to complain. “Look at my clothes,” he said. “They are filthy from carrying that woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff.” The first monk just smiled and nodded his head.

A few more miles up the road, the second monk griped again, “My back is hurting me so badly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river! I cannot go any farther because of the pain.”

The first monk looked down at his partner, now lying on the ground, moaning. Have you wondered why I am not complaining?” he asked. “Your back hurts because you are still carrying the woman. But I set her down five miles ago.”

That is what many of us are like in dealing with our families. We are that second monk who cannot let go. We hold the pain of the past over our loved ones’ heads like a club, or we remind them every once in a while, when we want to get the upper hand, of the burden we still carry because of something they did years ago.

(Story courtesy of Dr. Anthony T. Evans in Guiding Your Family in a Misguided World)

Sometimes when I find it tough to accept myself, it’s because I’m on overload. When the needle on my stress-o-meter spikes, I catch myself cycling through past offenses. Recently, I couldn’t erase from my mind the image of a woman who hurt me. I lived and relived hurtful events. Stomach tension and throbbing headaches knocked me off my feet. Yikes! (Does anyone say, “Yikes!” anymore?)

But when I prayed, Christ told me to off-load the hurt to Him. That didn’t happen overnight (rat tails!). I invited Co-Co, my Comforter and Counselor,  to a chat. He showed me her hurts and pain. He expressed an irrational compassion for her (double rat tails!).

He told me I’d been carrying her 5 miles too long. He invited me to forgive. When I softly told Him I was sorry for my attitude and the words we’d exchanged, His grace washed over me. Then my self-talk and acceptance shakily returned.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32 NIV). We need to be kind to ourselves, forgiving others, and forgiving ourselves as Christ has forgiven us.

What burdens are you carrying right now? How do you off-load hurts to Jesus?

Imagine the possibilities!

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  1. Kristine   On   May 25, 2017 at 5:12 am

    Oh, another timely word! Thank you for sharing your heart, Lynn. I’m headed off to prayer now. I think I’ve carried something about 55 miles, literally and spiritually!!

    • Lynn Hare   On   May 25, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Kristine. A 55-mile journey – wow. I think we’ve all gone that far with burdens, or more. Aren’t you glad that Jesus is trekking beside us? I wonder if He’s wearing a pedometer? Or does he keep track at all?

  2. Susan   On   May 25, 2017 at 7:09 am

    God has used Nelson Mandela’s words to convict me, ““Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” But “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1

  3. Lynn   On   May 25, 2017 at 9:35 am

    The attached Scripture reference is long but I received it this morning and then read your meditation. Letting go is also part of sowing seeds–anything I hang onto will not flourish or cause me to thrive. Cheerfully releasing an unforgiving attitude can allow me to see thanksgiving multiplied. The reference is directed more at actual goods, but even attitudes can be buried and produce fruit in the right soil.
    Thank you, Lynn, for your honesty and transparency. It encourages me to let God keep examining this heart of mine!
    With love…

    “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
    ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    • Lynn Hare   On   May 25, 2017 at 10:23 am

      Lynn, yes to abounding grace! Abounding cornfields springing up! Yes to cheerfully releasing an unforgiving attitude – sometimes harder than it looks.

  4. Jane West   On   May 25, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks, Lynn, for the reminder. Yes, very timely. I’ve done this many times. I believe it results in good health. Unforgiveness exacts an awful toll. God is so faithful.

    • Lynn Hare   On   May 30, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Jane, I’ve carried resentment of people many times, too. I’m amazed at the surge of peace and joy that comes with forgiveness. I want God’s flow in my physical body – that comes with forgiving them.

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