Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bearing Gifts as if They're Burdens

Today on the radio I was listening to Ginny Owen's song--I think its called "Free"-- and part of it's lyrics are this:

Turnin' molehills into mountains
Makin' big deals out of small ones
Bearing gifts as if they're burdens
This is how it's been /

CHORUS: You're free to dance
Forget about your two left feet
And you're free to sing
Even joyful noise is music to Me
You're free to love
Cause I've given you My love
And it's made you free
I have set you free!

That "bearing gifts as if they're burdens" resonated in my mind for a while. Rolled around on my tongue while the chorus was sung. Bearing gifts as if they're burdens. Is that possible? Ginny Owens, in case you don't know, is a Christian singer who is visually impaired, although its hardly noticeable. I wondered briefly if the line in the song is about her own blindness. Did she consider it a burden? And then realize it's a gift?
That's when it hit me. Not only is it possible that I bear gifts as though they're burdens, but probably. More than likely. I wonder if we all do that.
That ADD I've got going on? That I consider a huge burden to me because I can't pay attention? You know, that has come in awfully handy when relating to children. And because I can't pay attention (or rather, technically, I can't focus because I am paying attention to too many things at once) I notice EVERYTHING. The ladybug crawling on the floor. The way the man down the aisle at church looks sad, so I say a prayer for him. The tension in someone's voice. The way the leaves are blowing outside the window so I say a quick thank you to God for trees, and wind, and the sun, and..and..and...look at how that puddle outside is sparkling in the sun, man, I love sparkly things, which reminds me of that sparkly necklace the lady nex to me is wearing, wow God thank you for sparkly things like puddles and the sun and Heaven and I'm sure Heaven is going to be sparkly too, right and...wait, was someone talking?

And how about the fact that I have a big childish side? Its always felt like a burden because I JUST WANT TO GROW UP ALREADY. Am I ever going to be a normal wife who cooks dinners and cleans the house and goes to Tupperware parties (*shudder*) But what if, like some have told me, not childish, but child-like. What if that has been part of what has made me an amazing teacher? The fact that I can relate so well to children because I know what is going on in their heads. I haven't forgotten, like many other teachers I know, what it's like to be 5 years old. I know how hard it is to sit still in school or to concentrate when its a beautiful day outside. This has given me a blessed amount of patience with children. Something that has drawn literally hundreds of children to me over the years, crawling into my lap or whispering into my ear or putting their heads on my shoulder when they felt they couldn't turn to a "real grown up." Because being like them made me safe.

Another thing I have considered a burden is my hour-long commute to work every day. But is it really? I have learned to take Joyce Meyer and Beth Moore teaching tapes in the car with me, every day. I don't let myself listen to them anywhere else, and they are my favorites. Reserved just for car rides. So on my long commute, I have 60 (and sometimes over 90) minutes to just pray and learn about God. Sometimes He and and I have long talks. That gives me a lot of time to pray for other people. Or, let's face it, sometimes enough time to get into a big old argument with the Almighty (and lots of time for me to lose, as well.) On hard days, it gives me lots of time to pour my heart out, feel heard, and get my head screwed back on straight before I ever arrive at work, and by the time I get there I am feeling thankful and blessed again.

There are a couple other things that I have going on that I consider "thorns in my side" like the apostle Paul said he did. We don't know what his was, and for privacy's sake, I won't say what mine are. Suffice it to say they are things that have caused me a good deal of pain, loneliness, loss, rejection, and even at times humiliation in my life. However. It is these very same thorns that, in the right places, have caused people to say to me, "These are some of your biggest gifts." Gifts? I have even had a couple people say, oddly enough, "Because of how you are, I feel so safe around you." "You're such a good friend." "You're safe enough to tell anything to." "I know you can relate to how I feel." This--about my thorns. My thorns, which have even become my ministry in the past few years, as I have had dozens upon dozens, perhaps hundreds, of people write to me, looking for a word of encouragement. Go figure. That God...there He goes, doing amazing things again.

These are just a few of the things that came to my mind today listening to that Ginny Owens song. How about you? Those kids that are driving you insane right now? The ones you prayed for... are they really burdens? What if they were suddenly gone? Where would you be without them? How about that promotion you prayed for where now you are in a new office but you are the only Christian there? Didn't you pray for God to use you? Is it a burden to be the only one there, or is it a place for your light to shine? How about that thorn in your side... that eating disorder, that limp, that loneliness that has made you so compassionate towards other people that in spite of your "burden" you've now got a bigger heart?

Is your burden really a burden? Or is it a gift in disguise?

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