Bearing Burdens

or loving in the midst of turmoil

This week I started reading Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli and was confronted with the concept of loving those who are in our minds we see as unlovable. The character Stargirl is bombarded by gossip and whisperings and yet she imperviously ignores it all and invests herself in learning her schoolmates’ names and birthdays. The narrator is baffled because Stargirl is different, other, unknown.

How are we as Christians different? We are “set apart” or “nonconformed” (Rom 12:2; Titus 2:14). Nonconformity means being out of harmony. It is possible to be out of harmony and still exhibit the fruit of the Spirit? How do we bear burdens of others when their actions make it difficult?

Case and point — my daughter who is almost twelve is going thru some emotional turmoil. When she is raging and yelling, she is rather unlovable in those moments. Needless to say, the family dynamic is in peril. I was counseled recently to see the turmoil as a “cry for help” not discipline. My husband and I work better with analogies so while we wrestled with the day’s revelations, we used the classic illustration of a puppy. (My daughter is NOT a dog. That is not what I am saying.)

When house training, do you let the puppy defecate on the floor? No, there are boundaries. The puppy is told, “No” sternly. There’s reinforcement. There’s energy consumed in consistency with a routine. The puppy is motivated by safety and convenience. My husband asked, “Should we no longer discipline the puppy?” I was silent for a moment and I re-framed the analogy, “But what if the puppy is broken. What happens when the puppy breaks it leg and physically can’t make it outside?” What do we do then? We get creative. We fashion a sling or harness and help carry the dog outside. I looked at my husband and said, “Our puppy is broken.”

Right now, my daughter is like a struggling hero in dire need of other-worldly aid or divine intervention. “Things go ill, but not yet hopeless.” — The Two Towers. My daughter has struggled, battled, and endured long enough. She needs a mom that is safe and reliable. It’s time for rescue (Psalm 121). It’s time to look up.

I will carry my daughter and God will carry me. As Stargirl invested her time, effort, and energy to learn the names of her peers, sang to them, and greeted them in the halls regardless of what they thought or how they tried to blend into the background, so I too should invest in my time, energy, and effort. I need to love more and judge less. It is up to God to make it beautiful.

Carry Me

A Little More and a Little Less

A little more deed and a little less creed,
A little more giving and a little less greed;
A little more bearing other people’s load,
A little more Godspeeds on the dusty road;
A little more rose and a little less thorn,
To sweeten the air for the sick and forlorn;
A little more song and a little less glum,
And coins of gold for the uplift of the slum;
A little less kicking the man that is down,
A little more smile and a little less frown;
A little more Golden Rule in marts of trade,
A little more sunshine and a little less shade;
A little more respect for fathers and mothers,
A little less struggling hero that’s left in the rear;
A little more love and a little less hate,
A little more of neighborly chat at the gate;
A little more of the helping hand by you and me,
A little less of this graveyard sentimentality;
A little more of the flowers in the pathway of life,
A little less on coffins at the end of the strife.

by Stephen Abbott Northrop

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