By Shirley Prihoda
We all carry burdens of one sort or another. Some are so earth-shattering, they tie us to the event, causing a merry-go-round of pain and mental anguish, leading to a disconnection from those who love us. As the pain deepens within us, it frequently manifests in physical ailments.
As a Christian, when we encounter pain, our first move should be toward Jesus for help.
However, too often the first move is more often withdrawal from the very source of our healing. In that position, away from the Healer, we not only question the why of the event, but feel alone and abandoned in carrying the burden.
We are not alone. Jesus Himself said, “Come unto 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. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT
As a Pastor, it is sometimes difficult to openly share my strengths and challenges as I walk out this Emmaus Road journey. With the intent that my personal battlefield narrative can help others navigate the landmines in theirs, I share my journey, which was born in the pits of pain, affliction, offense and unforgiveness. It is one I carried without question until I traded it for Jesus’ easy burden.
In 2019, our family was hit with something that, quite frankly, shook us to the very core of everything we thought we knew. It never even crossed my mind that anything like this could happen to our family. It happens to other families, because they are not vigilant with safeguarding their children. But the truth is, what I had always thought, just simply didn’t matter. It did happen, and I was devastated.
I felt everything I had placed my hopes in had failed me. The church failed me. God failed me. I was angry with the world, and I was angry with God. Emotions hit me in waves, often taking me to depths of despair I never knew existed. I would like to say that I ran to Jesus for help, but the truth is that I thought I could handle it myself. After all, I didn’t need to rely on God because He could have kept it from happening in the first place if He had wanted to do so.
The truth of my thinking that I was above anything like this exploding in my life was rooted in pride. Pride that since I walked with God that my life was somehow immune to heartache. It never crossed my mind that the “other families” may have been walking with God, too. Pride was leading me down a self-destructive path, and I was dying from the inside out. In my arrogance, it was pushing me away from the only One who could save me. Psalms 10:14 spoke directly to where I was: “In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts, there is no room for God.”
There were moments when I would halfway come to my senses and remember it wasn’t God’s fault. But then I’d move my thoughts to thinking, “It’s their fault. Why should I forgive them? They did this to my family; they need to get what’s coming to them.” As the days passed, denial would once again set in. I refused to see that I was carrying a burden, or maybe focusing the pain on the offender was easier, since I didn’t want to recognize or acknowledge something was being required of me.
My world had stopped, but pain was a constant ringing in my ears. Pride that I could get through this on my own would not allow me to release the burden. I was too proud to ask for help. I could have read Proverbs 16:19 as to where my proud attitude would take me: “It is better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”
Pride can be blinding. Unforgiveness was in the driver’s seat, and I was along for the ride.
The journey hasn’t been easy, but today is a new day, and I can freely admit the Lord has lifted my burden of unforgiveness. Through prayer - a lot of it - and a friend who hugged me until I listened with my heart and not my head, said, “It’s O.K. to not be O.K. God has her, and He sees you.” I was able to lay down not only my pride but the unforgiveness and exchange my heavy burden for His. The truth was, He had never left me; I had simply made no room for Him to help me.
(To contact Shirley, please send emails to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)