Christian Living · Community · Hope

It’s Time to Break Up With This Phrase

It's time to break up with this phrase...

So often I can’t understand the struggles of my fellow man. I try to sympathize with my friend that struggles with eating habits, but because I’ve not struggled with that myself, my efforts feel somewhat forced. Another friend is highly allergic to an everyday food and I give my sweet expression, “I can’t imagine,” without actually trying to imagine. My young student that fled her own country, because of danger, challenges me to imagine that kind of experience.

The ability to empathize is born from personal experiences of struggle.  I lost a friend in high school, so I share the burden of any family, even if I don’t know them, walking through similar loss. I am a child of divorce, so that story elicits a reaction in me that it doesn’t in my closest friend. These struggles resonate in a deep place within me.

Our experiences were meant to draw us closer to God, yes, but also closer to our fellow man. Our story of pain, loss, or struggle links us to the lives of others. I believe that we are to bear one another’s burdens. Not ignore them. Not trample on them. Not dismiss them.

In Galatians 6, Paul gives instructions to carry each other’s burdens. This wasn’t about earning favor, or a high standing. This instruction was to encourage an absence of self-centeredness, and promote true concern for others. This is such a practical teaching in our age of selfies, likes, and retweets. We have built our kingdoms of self with great care. Unfortunately, the attention we’ve given to ourselves has been at the expense of those that are desperate for help in carrying their heavy burden.

People are hurting. They are desperate. Lonely. Stepping outside the kingdom of me, I see the pain. I hear the cries of hurting neighbors, and I cannot walk away unscathed. But, it’s not enough for me to just listen to the stories of others. I have to be responsible with my own story.  Stories cultivate relationships. Relationships cultivate burden bearing selflessness.

I walked through a season of being a single mother. Hear me say this…it was the most difficult season of my life, and I’ve walked through many disappointing circumstances. Surviving that season came only by the grace of God. I was always tired, mostly always lonely, and discouraged. I put on a brave face for my lovelies, but I was scared to the core. Single parenting is easily one of the most difficult challenges I faced, and many of my loved ones still face. If you are a single parent, I applaud you for all the steps you’ve taken with trembling knees and spirits.

Today, I bear this burden with a friend that walks as a widow. My phone rings often with a cry from a mother seeing her own child walk through divorce. In these moments, I exercise carrying another’s burden by leaning into my experience and offering words of encouragement. When I hear of a family separating, I’m moved to immediate prayer. True concern places me in the position of another and allows me to engage in a way that I would desire someone to engage with me.

So, on behalf of single parents everywhere, I want to challenge you who are not walking in this season. You may have said these words, and they felt real to you, but I’m going to ask you to remove this phrase from your everyday language. When your spouse is out of town for a few days, and I really do understand the strain that puts on schedules and families, please stop saying you are “single-parenting” it. Honestly, maybe you could say you are pulling the load alone. That is a fair and accurate statement, after all. But to the one truly walking through single-parenting-this feels hurtful and insensitive. A single-parent longs for a partner to return from a business trip, or friend weekend. Would you break up with this phrase? If you will, it will be one step toward bearing another’s burden.

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes can be applied practically. We may not have the same path, but it’s certainly within our ability to try {by way of imagining} what that person must be feeling, experiencing, etc.  That’s my plea to you and the desire of my own heart. May I be known as a person that steps outside of my own stuff to carry the burden of another.

4 thoughts on “It’s Time to Break Up With This Phrase

  1. I’m a single parent now for 28 years. It is one of the hardest things to do. My boys missed out on so much without having a dad to look up to. I have never heard any married person use this phrase. Maybe it’s regional?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that phrase has not been a part of your experience, Michelle. ❤️ Maybe regional…maybe generational?

      Like anything, something seemingly benign can cause another trouble. I’m all for refining my speech to be compassionate. I need a lot of work in that area!!!


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