Bearing the burden.
13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)
In counseling, I will share with clients what I call the principle of pebbles and boulders. This applies when one spouse does something knowing it is not the best, but without any idea of how deep the impact has been on the other. To them, it was as if they tossed a pebble at their spouse. Their spouse felt the pebble as if it were a boulder crashing down on them. There is an emotional weight that falls on us when others do or say something hurtful. God calls us to bear this weight.
The natural reaction is to return fire for fire. They insult us and we will not be outdone. Words explode out of our mouths with the same poisonous arrows as theirs. It’s as if we took the boulder that has fallen on us and we toss it back on their head. We want them to feel the pain they inflicted. But here the Holy Spirit calls us to let the weight remain on us and resist the temptation.
Our first thought might be that we will be walked on, abused, and mistreated if we don’t defend ourselves. The truth is that we are unable to defend ourselves. Dropping the boulder on their head will not stop them from continuing the cycle. This is how our arguments escalate so quickly. In the end, we are both crushed under the weight.
You cannot stop the cycle, but the Lord can touch their heart and turn it in a different direction. For the Lord to move on our behalf, we must allow Him to work through us. The decision to bear the weight by responding with gentility and forgiveness moves the Spirit to empower this decision. He begins to work on a level we could never reach. He softens their heart.
When we refuse to attack, it becomes more difficult for them to focus on something we are doing wrong. Eventually, this will cause their eyes to moving back to themselves. When we return boulders, it is easier for them to ignore their behavior and focus on ours, but bearing the burden is above reproach. They have nothing to point out. Their bad behavior eventually comes before their eyes.
The power to hold the boulder comes from remembering God has held our boulders. When we have hurt Him, He remained gentle and kind. Now, the One who has forgiven so much is asking us to bear the burden.
Prayer: Lord, help me bear the burden when others have crushed us with their boulders. Amen.