Being an empath, being a burden bearer, is a gift...sort of. No, it is. Really. Truly. Most of the time. Ok, all the time. Welllll, maybe just most of the time.
Its also exhausting and if we aren't careful, it can lead to our wreckage too. Resentments, depression, hopelessness, anger, and eventually crashing into our beds only to come out to pee.
I spent my first 40 years rushing around trying to manage other people's lives, averting crisis so they didn't have to feel any pain, constantly buffering and soothing, constructing happiness and an illusion of stability with all of my skills and resources, built up onto a tippy tilty foundation. And if I am going to really be honest, it was more about my own comfort than anyone else's. I dont like to see other's pain or discomfort.
I have come a long long way in the "minding my own business" arena, but I still SEE all of the world's suffering, the discouragement, the fear, and these last few weeks have been full to the brim, to overflowing, with suffering. Peurto Rico, the hurricanes, earthquakes, the Las Vegas shooting, the California fires....whole neighborhoods flattened and charred, in my mom's group I hear DAILY of MULTIPLE overdose deaths. Such sadness and sorrow and grief. Such darkness.
So I ask myself, what good is it if you see these things and they ruin you, send you into hibernation, make you feel weighted down and heavy? What good is it to possess the gift of bearing burdens and empathy and compassion if you are so debilitated by it you can barely lift your head?
This morning my long long time best friend reminded me about God. Oh yeah, Him! I am astounded that I can muddle my way along for so many years of working an active program of recovery, a living breathing relationship with God, and STILL fall into the trap of thinking I have the answers to what ails the world. That I can somehow fix something for someone else. For years I have heard, "So and so has a God and its not you!" What?! When the going gets tough, my instinct is to fall back into old behaviors. Worrying, controlling, mind racing with ideas about how I can make things better, obsessing. I get a taste of how bitter that is, and THEN I begin to look to what I know provides relief. Surrender, letting go, trusting, waiting for direction.
God has given some of us the gift of burden bearing, of walking alongside, of being companions during suffering, but not of fixing all that ails the world. Its too much, too vast. So what can we do? What can I do? For today, I am actively turning my cares and concerns over to the care of my Higher Power...the ultimate burden bearer. For Him to tend to and provide for and direct my steps and lead me where He wants me to be. He can tend to my leaning toward obsession. Practically speaking, I will donate clothes, toiletries, shoes, socks, money, food... I will do whatever I can. The difference is that I will work at accepting that I am just a part of a whole and all of the parts have something to offer.
I can't fix the world. Not by myself at least. 😉
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. "For my yoke is easy, and my load is light." Matt. 11: 29-30
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus. Phillipians 4: 6-7
This hangs in my kitchen... this really is an ongoing theme in my life. Lol as God pries my fingers loose and says "I've got this."