Friday, February 1, 2013

Need to lay down that armor a while?

Weary:  Physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exhaustion, or strain.  The origin of this word has its basis in the old English word used to describe the condition of crumbling, breaking down, or tottering.  I think this comes very close to describing the condition of mental strength when we are at the point of weariness, doesn't it?  We are almost crumbling into pieces - if not on the outside, maybe on the inside.  We find ourselves just not able to go on much longer - because we are at the point of being broken down by the pressures of life.  There is a condition of both mind and body which leaves us kind of "tottering" on the edge - so weary we just don't know if we can go on any longer.  I have heard it said that those who take care of others all the time are often the ones who need a little care themselves.  I observe caregivers all the time, on the brink of exhaustion, but constantly giving out of themselves to give and give again.  Who takes care of the caregiver?  

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT)

I believe the answer is quite clear - Jesus.  What we cannot carry alone, Jesus is there to carry.  I have a favorite song which speaks deeply to my soul each and every time I consider the words of the lyrics.  It is the song by Twila Paris, written when she was only 22 years old, after being counseled about the weariness of "fame" related to her up and coming career in the Christian music industry.  There is much truth in the words of this song, so let me share some of the lyrics with you this morning that speak to me the "loudest" in this song and why:

People say that I'm amazing -- Strong beyond my years
But they don't see inside of me  --  I'm hiding all the tears

Unafraid because His armor is the best -- But even soldiers need a quiet place to rest
People say that I'm amazing -- Never face retreat
But they don't see the enemies -- That lay me at His feet

They don't know that I go -- Running home when I fall down
They don't know Who picks me -- Up when no one is around
I drop my sword and look up for a smile -- 'Cause deep inside this armor
The Warrior is a Child

(excerpts from The Warrior is a Child, by Twila Paris -

The highlights are my own - because these words speak the loudest to me in this song.  There are more words to the song, but these speak to me each time I hear it.  First, sometimes caregivers seem to have a strength almost unmatched by others.  There is a constant demand upon their time and energies, but they seem to possess something which keeps them "going back into" the midst of some of the toughest places to be - the place where others take and you just give.  Second, others rarely see the hidden struggles of the caregiver.  It is not that the caregiver wears "masks" of some kind, but there is a determination of mind and heart which shields some of the tremendous disappointments, struggles, and fears of those who are the caregivers.  It is like the armor of a warrior - functioning not so much to hide behind, but to protect the one wearing it.

Most importantly, the song speaks of onlookers not knowing where the caregiver finds their strength.  I think Twila Paris did a great job of defining the heart of the caregiver, the stamina exhibited, and the place of renewal each caregiver needs more than anything else.  It is at the feet of Jesus where the caregiver finds their rest - they go "running home" and there they find themselves "picked up" for the next round of battle.  Caregiving may not be a literal "battle", but it wears on the mind and body almost as much as the rigors of warfare.  It is as the "warrior" lays down his sword - puts aside the caregiving responsibilities for just a short while - that they are "picked up" in their spirit, renewed in their mind, and regenerated in their body.  They find strength beyond their years!

My sister asked me the other day if I was doing any blogging about being my mother's caregiver during these past several years.  This gave me a moment of pause, as I began to consider just how much those of us who are in this same "battle" need this tremendous connection of support of others in this warfare with us.  So, in sharing just these short lyric excerpts, and the words of Jesus, let me pray you find the renewal you so desperately need.  My strength comes in recognizing that deep inside, I am the warrior who is nothing more than a child.  It is my hope, you will recognize your strength comes not in "fronting" your "armor", but in laying it down for a while.  Just sayin!

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