Brush Your Shoulders Off

I’m trying to kick a pretty bad habit of taking on things I shouldn’t. Whether this habit was formed by way of an adolescence of being a common scapegoat, or something I came up with all on my twisted own, I tend to take responsibility for things I’m not responsible for.

I could hardly handle being on a leadership team at work, because I didn’t like knowing about every conflict, problem or tension happening outside my department. Ignorance is truly my bliss. The internet hasn’t been a good friend to me either, suddenly knowing about all the news (fake or real) all the time.

At first, I was thinking about this in a ministry context, but it really applies in every relationship in all of life. Some of us just feel a pressure to pick up the slack when it looks like other people are dropping the ball.

The government doesn’t provide this service for it’s citizens so it all falls to NGOs.

People are selfish with their times so volunteers are spread too thin.

Not enough missionaries go to the 10/40 window, so if I go, I’m going to have to save 10,000 people.

My roommate must not know how to change the toilet paper or do the dishes.

I tend to react one of two ways: wear myself out, trying to fix it, and make everyone happy. Or put my fingers in my ears and go “LA LA LA LA LA!”. Why can’t I just hear about things and not be bothered or embittered by them?!

Do you know what God has been trying to tell me for the last, I don’t know, 20 years? RELAX. CALM DOWN. HOLD STILL. “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 because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your soul.”

Yoke. The literal burden that goes on shoulders. I’ve heard that verse a ton of times (Matthew 11:28-29), but never stopped to ask the question, “Okay, Jesus, what is the burden you want to share with me?”

It’s not to make sure the whole world is evangelized, because the rest of that “Be still and know” passage (Psalm46:10) is the promise, “my Name will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

It’s not to have perfect theology, and the width, length, height and depth of Christ’s love figured out for myself, because that’s something designed to be grasped by all the saints together, by His power (Ephesians 3:18).

It’s not to be self-sufficient, because He designed us all to have different gifts, talents, strengths and weaknesses so we’d work together (1 Corinthians 12).

It’s not to work harder, because He is really serious about taking days off. Remembering the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, plus, “the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5).

It really is to love and be loved. Receive love and give love. Walk in His love and with His power. Take it one day at a time, coming to Him for His daily bread, not stockpiling for later.

I keep running into this problem of when I try to love and serve people in my own strength and by my own clever methods, I eventually end up accidentally hurting them.

If we all just did our small part to love and serve the people God puts in front of us, listening to His leading every day, the whole world would be loved and served. I can’t let the fact, it doesn’t seem to be happening, make me feel like it’s all on me now. That renders me ineffective

A couple years ago I got buried in my sorrow about the refugee/migrant crisis. Working in Greece made me angry at what was happening to people, and even angrier at how other people were responding. I took way too much upon myself.

These days, I’m not “working with refugees” anymore. I am in Europe, but no where near a camp, although some of my dearest friends are immigrants and refugees. For awhile it didn’t felt like enough, but now I see that it is all God has asked me to do. Be a good friend and neighbor. Don’t overthink it. Don’t over-spiritualize it. Don’t look at what other people are doing, because comparison is the friggin’ WORST.

It felt like coming up for air and simultaneously getting excited about life again. There are beautiful things happening all the time. Friendship is wonderful, food is delicious. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and crushed beneath the weight of the world’s problems, but take it from me (and Jay-Z): “gon’ brush your shoulders off.”


4 thoughts on “Brush Your Shoulders Off”

    1. No! I loved what you wrote and I think you are very accurately representing me and I’m honored. I’ve been meaning to tell you how excited I am about your post and I can’t wait to help bring the hype on the book!


  1. I love your heart and the way you articulate what God is teaching you. These posts are so so good! As crazy as our times were in Greece together, I’m still so very thankful for the all the lessons learned and beautiful memories! Love you and excited for all that’s ahead of you!!


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