The Yoke in My Head

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Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.
For my yoke is easy and My burden is light.
-Matthew 11:29-30

The sun was a fiery ball in the bay sky. A splendid dinner of  barbecued steaks, prawns, and all the good things that go with such a meal sat contentedly in our  stomachs as we gathered on the deck. A friendly wager rested on the exact moment the sun would slip behind the ocean’s vast horizon.

We were enjoying the last hours of an awesome family vacation, our first since our son was injured sixteen years ago. It was a gift from a cherished cousin and her husband, and one that was more needed than I could ever truly express.

My cousin couldn’t know just how raw my soul was.

I have long struggled with Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:29-30. I always understood He was speaking of allowing Him to carry our burdens for us. I just never could reconcile that with the reality of my life. We raised five children, with all its attending joys and cares. I educated all five of them at home, a daunting task at any time, but especially so after our son was injured.

After his spinal cord injury in 1997, we were told caring for him at home would be “impossible.” I had to add “accomplishing the impossible” to my to-do list for each day.

Then circumstances required I return to school and become a licensed practical nurse. In my spare time, after I’ve done the impossible for the day.

Now I am an author, with its attending responsibilities.

Most of these things I have made peace with and even found joy in their midst. Then, lately, a crisis in my extended family descended upon us. The pressure has been nearly unbearable for me. It has been a crushing yoke, permeating my thought life and consuming my days.

The vacation came just in time. At the beach, I was not available to solve a single problem. It wasn’t that trouble wasn’t happening; I simply could not solve anything until I returned home.

The freedom in my brain was exhilarating. In this rarefied air I made a startling discovery:

The yoke Jesus wants me to give up is the one in my head.

He never told us life wouldn’t be hard. In fact, He promised us a life of trial as His disciples. But that wasn’t the yoke He was talking about. He wants to relieve the burdens my soul is carrying.

I thought I already knew this. In principle I understood He wanted me to give Him my life and my problems. And I have always tried to trust God.  What I didn’t realize was how much I worry-think about things all day long. I have been yoked to my thought life, mentally pulling a heavy cart of burdens. It was only when I was unstrapped from them that I realized how much life they stole from me.

We returned after our vacation to new and intimidating challenges here at home. But I am determined to live at the beach. I left that heavy, old yoke in the foaming tide at sunset. I am actively learning to stop whenever I catch myself falling back into old thought patterns of worry and analyzing and trying to sort out the complexities assaulting us. I still have to work, but I don’t have to turn over my soul to it.

If you want to reach me, I will be here.

But my heart is at the beach.

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About PamThorson

Pam is a licensed practical nurse, author, and caregiver. Her first book, Song in the Night, recounts her son's fight for life after a spinal cord injury. Her second book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver, offers hope and encouragement to those who care for others.

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