I was once told by a mentor, “Each of us are living in the midst of a trial, have just emerged from one, or are heading toward another.”
It is phrasing similar to another oft-quoted truth, “Be kind to everyone you meet. You never know what battle they are fighting.”
There is truth in this statement. But it is particularly enhanced during the holiday season when loss, of every kind, is magnified.
So be kind to one another out there.
But I want to approach this conversation from a slightly different angle. With all the weight and burden that each of us already carry in life, why would we ever choose to intentionally carry more?
Just consider all the things that weigh down our hearts and lives: death, loss, illness, worry, politics, financial hardships, grief, guilt, marital tension, traumatic events. Each a weight that we carry on our shoulders.
Many of these burdens are inevitable and entirely outside our realm of control. Regardless of their origin, we carry them—each of us, on a daily basis.
No wonder, in a recent survey when children were asked, “If you were granted one wish about your parents, what would it be?” The kids’ number one wish was that their parents were less tired and less stressed.
Life is not easy. It never has been and was never promised to be. And in our new society defined by instantaneous social sharing, not only do we carry the weight of our own trials, we also carry the weight of others.
A friend of mine, on the other side of the country, was rushed to a hospital Thanksgiving evening. Through text and social media, I was alerted to it almost instantly. A tragedy, on the other side of the country, involving a family not my own. And yet, a sadness… a weight… was felt in our home.
Life is hard. Why would we ever choose to make it more difficult?
But it seems to me that many of us choose to do that very thing simply by carrying excess possessions in our homes and lives.
Perhaps Randy Alcorn said it best, “Every increased possession adds increased anxiety onto our lives.”
Excess possessions take up residence in our homes and in our minds. They require care, maintenance, and attention. Every item we own must be handled and at some point, discarded—whether by ourselves or by a loved one. They add obligation, responsibility, weight.
Clutter is a contributing factor to the level of stress in our lives. For example, 1) Researchers at UCLA discovered a link between high levels of stress hormones and a high density of household objects; 2) Princeton scientists discovered that a cluttered environment limits our ability to focus; and 3) Psychology Today reinforced these studies back in March 2012, citing eight specific reasons how clutter contributes to higher levels of stress in our bodies.
With all the weight and burden that each of us already carry in life, why would we ever choose to intentionally carry more?
Unburden your life in the areas you can control. In so doing, you will find more freedom and capacity to navigate the trials and burdens that are outside of it.