OSL Stephen Ministries
Loads Versus Burdens
Joan Bacon

One of the things that stuck with me from Stephen Ministry training was the difference between loads and burdens. Our loads are the normal responsibilities we carry out: we brush our teeth, do some work, maintain relationships, and generally navigate life. Loads vary at each stage of life; we don’t expect kids to carry the same loads as adults; we don’t expect the elderly to shoulder as much as younger folk. Of course, we all experience overload, either by our own overzealous yes-saying or out of true necessity. But overall, our loads are fair, and they balance out.

Burdens are different. Burdens are problems with no “easy” button: loss of loved one, health problems, fractured relationships, financial crises, gnawing guilt or anxiety. While it’s fair to expect people to carry their loads, burdens should not be carried alone. Unfortunately, we try to do just that, especially during the holidays when “merry” seems to reign. We go at it alone, hiding burdens, toughing it out. This gives burdens even more power to rob us of health, peace, or even faith.

The author Karen Salmansohn writes, “Sometimes you just need to talk about something—not to get sympathy or help, but just to kill its power by allowing the truth of things to hit the air.”

If you need a Stephen Minister to listen to your “truth of things” hitting the air, and to help kill the power of a burden you are carrying alone, contact Pr. Tim Lemme, Deb Harlan, or any Stephen Minister.

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