He’s Not Heavy

He’s Not Heavy

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
~Galatians 6:2

Hot tears sprang to my eyes and anger boiled in my veins—someone I trusted had betrayed me. “You made loving others look so easy, ” I cried out to Jesus. “How did you not smite Judas, and Peter, and all of those who mocked you and then killed you?” I pushed open the door with a little too much force, sending it slapping against the cottage wall.

“Come, walk with me,” Jesus invited, His pace slow and measured. “I knew they were doing the best that they could,” Jesus said. “You can’t expect anyone to do more than they can do.” He stopped and pointed to the feral cats playing in the garden. “You don’t expect them to act tame, do you?” He asked.

“Of course not. They weren’t socialized when they were kittens,” I explained.

“It’s the same with people. They are who they are because of their experiences in life,” He replied. “Forgive, Sparrow. Reach out to your friend with love. Help them carry the burdens that make them so fearful that they hurt others and themselves.”

I thought of how Jesus bore our burden of sin on His back as He walked to the cross— all the way into death. “You carried us,” I whispered. My tears of pain now turning to tears of gratitude.

“When you carry another, you carry yourself. You carry God,” He replied.

We turned back toward the cottage, the hurt and anger now drained from my body. A gentle wind blowing down from the mountains played through my hair, making me laugh. Jesus smiled and patted me on the back. I smiled in return, my heart too full for words.













We Learn As We Go

We Learn As We Go

God is merciful and forgiving.
~Daniel 9:9

The deer were here again last night, soundlessly dining on the zinnias. Afterward, they lay down in them, flattening out the once tall, proud plants. I want to feel angry but cannot muster the emotion. I know the deer are hungry, and I, the foolish city girl, planted a smorgasbord for them. I lifted the wounded branches out of the soil and placed them on the compost bin.

“You’re learning how to be a country girl,” God said to me.

“Apparently, there is a lot to learn,” I replied and smiled.

“Experience is the best teacher,” He said.

I nodded in agreement.

“Next year you’ll plant deer-resistant flowers.” I nodded again.

“If only life’s missteps were as easy to correct as replanting a flower garden,” I said.

“Oh, but they are! You’ve got grace and forgiveness to help you,” God said warmly.

“You make it sound so simple.”

“It is simple!” He said. “Just as you felt compassion for the hungry deer, I feel compassion for all of my children. I know they are going to make mistakes.”

“But you love us anyway, don’t you?” It was more of a statement than it was a question.

“Of course I do,” God said. “Just like I love my hungry deer.”

I looked out over the garden and felt connected to all of God’s creation; all of us learning as we go.





Like The Soldiers

Like The Soldiers

They ridiculed and mocked him.
~Luke 23:11

At the local cafe, my friend and I enjoyed a cup of coffee as we talked about a woman we both know. In my opinion, our mutual friend had been making poor life choices. I was extremely frustrated with her latest decision and I said a few things that I probably wouldn’t have said if she had been sitting there with us. Afterward, I drove home, winding my way up to my cottage. The trees that lined the road were ablaze with fiery red and orange leaves—filling my heart with joy.

“Sparrow,” God said as I slowed down for a hairpin curve.

“Yes, God?” I answered.

“Remember the soldiers who mocked Jesus?” He asked.

“Of course. They were terrible men,” I said.

“They didn’t know the truth about Jesus,” He explained. “You don’t know the truth about your friend. You don’t know the fear that drives her.”

My joy instantly vanished, an uneasiness now rising up inside of me.

“Am I like the soldiers who mocked Jesus?” I asked, afraid to hear the answer.

“Everyone has the capability to be judgemental and cruel. But I hope that next time you’ll extend compassion instead.”

I slowed down the car again as a deer ran across the road. How careful I was to avoid hitting her, yet with my words, I had run over a friend. “I’m sorry, God,” I said. “I’ll remember the soldiers the next time I want to share my negative opinions about someone. I’ll remember that I don’t know the truth, and I’ll do my best to feel compassion instead of judgment.”

A gust of wind picked up a pile of leaves and sent them somersaulting across the road ahead of me. I watched them swirl and dance in the air. I felt God’s forgiveness wash over my heart. “Thank you, Father,” I whispered. “Thank you.”












The Most Important Work

“It’s the most important work you’ll ever do,” God said to me as I weeded my flower garden.

“Pulling out dandelions?” I asked, incredulous.

“No,” God laughed. “Seeking the barriers to love and dismantling them. Like every baby that comes into my world, you were born with a whole heart. But as people wounded you, you learned to fear. You learned to protect yourself by putting others down, or worse, vilifying or demonizing them. You stopped seeing them as my precious children.”

“How do I heal my wounded heart?” I asked.

“Forgiveness, humility, and helping others,” God said.

I thought about my family and friends that annoy me—their difference in opinions and perceptions—and I wondered how I might turn towards them, instead of pulling away, or worse, not listening to them at all. And I realized that God was asking me to not only do the obvious work of not hating or harming others; He was asking me to work on the subtle, almost imperceptible feelings and opinions—the judgements—that barricade me from loving fully.

Our journey here is all about learning how to heal our wounded hearts so that we can love fully; so that we can take a whole heart home.

Do You Hate The Rock?

Someone threw a rock and shattered my elderly neighbor’s window. A few of us who live on the street gathered outside of his house to assess the damage. “Sorry, Tom, that you have to deal with this,” a neighbor said to him.
“Don’t you hate people who do this kind of damage?” asked another. Tom shook his head. “No, I don’t. I feel sorry for them.”
“You’re a bigger person than me. I’d hate the person who broke a window at my house,” chimed in another.
“It was a rock that broke my window. Should I hate the rock?” Tom asked.
“But a person threw it,” a woman said.
“Yes. That’s true. But it was the pain inside the person that caused them to throw the rock. I can’t hate that pain. I can only feel compassion for it, for I too, have felt pain,” whispered Tom. I drew in a quick breath, surprised at Tom’s wisdom, his Christ-like heart.
Neighbors shook their heads. I heard one whisper the word “crazy” as they walked away. I remained, not yet wanting to leave the company of such a dear man.
“Do you need any help cleaning up?” I asked.
“No, but thank you for asking,” Tom answered.
“Thank you, for your loving heart,” I said.
“Is there any other kind to have? We must help each other heal from our pain that causes destruction in life,  not hate it,” he said as he rested his hand on my shoulder.
“The world would be a better place if we could do that,” I said. It would be a better place, indeed.

Don’t Let These Weigh You Down.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone,
so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
~Mark 11:25

“You’re awfully slow today,” God said as I drug my feet to start the day.
“I know. I just can’t seem to get going,” I said as I made a cup of coffee.
“That’s not what you need,” God said. “What you need is to stop lugging around all that dead weight.”
“I need to lose weight?” I asked, a bit surprised. “I’m a size four,” I argued.
“No. Not body weight. The weight of resentments. The weight of anger. They exhaust you.”
“You’re right about that,” I said.
“It’s because you don’t let go of the past,” God explained. “If you let go of yesterday and the all the days that came before it, you’d be living only in today. The past wouldn’t matter.
“How do I let go?” I asked.
“With my help. You lean on me and not on your own understanding. You forgive, just as I forgive you,” God said quietly. I nodded. I took my coffee and sat outside in the garden. The sun had already climbed halfway up the sky. I sat near the birdfeeder and listened to the finches chirping.
“I’ll do my best to let go of the past. I’ll do my best to forgive.”
“Good,” God said. “You’ll have more pep in your step. You’ll also enjoy your coffee more.”
“Really? I like it a lot right now,” I said.
“Everything will look, feel, taste, and sound better when you’re not resentful or angry,” God explained. I sat for quite some time in the cool of the day and sipped my coffee, praying all the while for help to let go. A finch flew down and landed on the table in front of me.
“Thanks, God,” I said. The little bird cocked his head at me, as if he too, had heard me. I smiled. I felt better already.