We’ve all heard the reminders to give people who come across angry, grouchy or distant a break because we don’t know what they might be going through at the moment.
It’s true that life gets heavy sometimes, and when it does we can choose to carry the load alone or share with others who are willing to help.
We also can make someone else’s load lighter by simply being present, staying positive and offering a listening ear.
But our attempt to help can actually pile on our friend’s load if we turn the conversation back to ourselves and exhaust his or her energy with too much venting about what is happening in our lives.
It’s a hard balance because it seems more and more people are overloaded and stressed. More and more people need rescuing, but the pool of rescuers seems limited.
I wonder how many people are working through life’s difficulties, pressures and to-do lists in their heads without talking it out with someone else.
It might be they don’t want to burden others; it might be they have a hard time trusting. And in many cases it is because of the confidentiality of the matters at hand.
Either way carrying heavy loads and attempting to navigate difficult issues alone is more than a lonely journey. It also leads to mental, physical and emotional fatigue.
I sometimes wonder how those called to the counseling profession handle all they have to carry.
The same is true with pastors. Think about all the families in a congregation and the burden of concern and care the pastor has for each of them and what is happening in their lives.
More people than we realize are balancing a tremendous weight mentally and emotionally as they work through each day.
Praying should always be our go-to response for those we know tasked with — and thus attempting to manage — major responsibilities.
Choosing to share a positive word of appreciation will go a long way in the midst of the heaviness, especially if they are receiving a large dose of complaints or negative feedback from others.
And finding a way to help relieve some of the pressure your friend is under might just be the best gift he or she receives all year.
—Jennifer Davis Rash