Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes that’s because one really big, really bad thing is going on. Sometimes it’s the hundred little things piling on.
Lately, I’ve had a hundred little things piling on. Small stresses adding up. And the past couple days I have indulged in quite the full-blown pity party. The thoughts and emotions going on — it hasn’t been pretty, people. Trust me.
The thing is — if you’d asked me yesterday if I’ve been praying about the stress, I would have honestly told you Of course I have! I have been praying throughout the day. I have been praying when I wake at night in the middle of weird or anxious dreams. I have been reading my Bible, digging into scripture as I prepare for some upcoming speaking events. I’ve been doing all the Sunday School solutions for stress — Read your Bible and pray.
Still, I have been weighed down by anxiety.
Then, this morning – an epiphany! I have been praying about the stuff, the lists of things to be done, the pressures and demands, all of the hundred little things. I have asked God to take the worry, to fix the problems, to heal, to rescue, to provide. And that’s all good. But I haven’t been praying about ME, my attitude, my heart, my thoughts, my perspective.
So this morning I just poured out my heart to God. I told Him my fears. I confessed that I have a hard time trusting Him. I’ve been disappointed before. Even though I know God hasn’t really let me down, He hasn’t always resolved things the way I’d like. I told Him all about my issues, my hangups. And I told Him about all the things I’ve been feeling overwhelmed about. I laid myself bare.
Then I remembered that Anne Lamott says one of her most favorite prayers is simply, “Help!” So I took a deep breath and I exhaled out, “Help.” And because I figure if I’m going to be polite with anyone, I should be polite with God, I added, “Please.”
And then I got quiet. And because I had spewed out everything from the lists that have been echoing in my brain, my mind was empty, quiet.
Slowly, a hushed thought began to form. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. That’s from the book of Matthew, chapter 11. I’ve read it a thousand times.
Then, a soft whisper in my soul said, Stay yoked to me. I will give you rest. Stay yoked to me.
I loved that thought. Really, it was a balm of sorts to my tense spirit. But I also know all the responsibilities I have, all the demands on my time and energy, all my needs, all my lists of things to-do. And so I whispered back, “I want to be yoked to You. But what about all the things I have on my plate? It’s too much. Too much.”
Sometimes God speaks to me through Bible verses. Sometimes through song lyrics or poems. Sometimes through sermons. Sometimes through books. Sometimes through witty little sayings I have heard from friends. The next soft whisper in my soul asked, “Remember? How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time, God.” My soul laughed.
“Just do the next thing. The next right thing. The next tedious thing. The next fun thing. The next thing, whatever it is. Stay yoked to me, and we’ll do the next thing. Together.”
I’ve been holding onto this answer all day. And my soul has been at rest.
Are you overwhelmed by the elephant on your plate? Yoke up with God and take it one bite at a time.