When the Weight of the World is on Your Shoulders
Updated: May 3, 2021
The Antithesis of Freedom
Pressure, the heavy weight of performance, expectations push down upon my chest. The familiar ache of regret, longing, fear. A thin string tied to my rib cage, straining, coursing deeper into my core. The black gaping hole deep inside. Void, empty, pulsating, steady. A heartbeat. My shoulders instinctively tense. Sinew and muscle tighten, moving up the sides of my neck, burrowing into my skull, then making a U-turn along a concrete road back down to my shoulder blades. I roll my head, starting with left ear to left shoulder and crackling its way along my back, eyes closed to the heavens, rolling to where my right ear meets my right shoulder. Still no relief. My center back muscles seize, tightening with each move, unable to find release.
Physical manifestation of spiritual, mental and emotional stress. The tension is overwhelming.
It hurts to think. Not physical pain, but weariness of the external and internal cacophony enveloping me. Fits of giggles, dinosaur roars, Pikachu squeaks, electronic din. Thumps and bumps followed by high pitched screams, wet and feral. Phones buzzing, podcasts talking, music blaring, oven beeping, cars honking, children playing then fighting then making up and playing again.
Gwendolyn Brooks’ refrain…
Somehow to find a still spot in the noise
Was the frayed inner want, the winding,
the frayed hope
Whose tatters he kept hunting the din.
A velvet peace somewhere.
A room of wily hush somewhere within.
I have carried her words with me for two and a half decades. Truth of a life. Busy, full, to the extreme.
How to Break Free
Does time heal all wounds? Time brings understanding. He speaks to me softly, gently, presenting a refreshed vision of what my life could look like. A picture show built up on hope, hinged on release. The secret to walking on the water, hovering above the waves … trust.
Unrelenting, all encompassing, freedom walking trust. If only I could believe.
But the only way to stay afloat is with eyes focused on Him. Unwavering, unblinking, doubt ridding crystal-clear focus.
Trust isn’t easy. It takes all of me. It requires the constant sweeping of fragmented thoughts, splinters of doubt. “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil 4:8, abbreviations mine).
Memorized verses tumbling from my brain and mouth like a mantra. Phrases fragmented, pieced together by memory and age. But these fragments are different from the cacophany above.
Instead of razor-sharp edges cutting beneath the skin, these mustard seeds are a salve, a soothing balm soaking into my skin, down to bone and marrow. Lodging themselves deep in my belly, curling vines emerging, winding fresh around my heart.
When these thoughts enmesh themselves inside me, a different result comes forth. A path toward freedom.
This post is a reflective follow up to my post called, What Freedom Looks Like. Post one is available here.