If the Yoke Ain’t Easy…

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Abby Norman -Easy Yoke3

Everywhere I look there is work to be done. Everywhere.

My kids’ school sends home fliers asking, always asking. For wipes, for Kleenex, for dry-erase markers, for paper. They need chaperones and cupcakes for the Valentine’s Day party. They need time and resources and they are doing good good work, and I want to help. I do. But I only have so much time and resources. If I am totally honest I would much rather fill out a grant application for a teacher than chaperone a Pre-K Valentine’s Day party.

My church is doing good good work. We have a breakfast ministry and a community closet. We have an arts ministry and a partnership with a village in Haiti. We have about 60 kids who scuttle off to Sunday school every Sunday. We need greeters and parking attendants, and people to make the coffee. Who will cook? Who will serve? Who will fold clothes carefully into bags or teach children about how much God loves them?  We have a congregation who are all right around the same age as me. We are all in our tired thirties. Who has the time? Who has the energy? Someone needs to do it or the church won’t run.

Every day I am added to a new Facebook page for doing something. One Hour a Day, Sisterhood of Resistance, Red State Renegades–all doing really good work. All trying to do good work. All trying to organize and engage in a time when a new horrible policy comes out almost weekly. What should I do first? Should I work toward stopping the Muslim ban? Should I help subvert the immigrant raids? Should I call my Congress people? Email them? Write postcards? Should I fight for fair educational policies or for health care for all? There is just so much work to be done.

I had a conversation with someone recently. He was feeling frustrated by the lack of movement he had been feeling with a ministry he had been called to start. Every rug pulled out from under him, every spark fizzled out instead of fanned into a flame. It just felt so heavy, like so much work. Did I have any idea what he was supposed to do?

Quit. I told him. I think you should quit. Don’t quit the ministry entirely, but anything that feels too heavy to bear? Quit that part. Wait for another way. God promises us a yoke that is easy. It sounds like maybe this isn’t your yolk.

I had the same conversation with someone recently at school. Her ability to see so clearly the ways in which the oppressive nature of this world act out in our classrooms is remarkable. The clarity with which she sees is astounding. She has been doing everything she can to speak truth to power and awaken some of our classmates. She is really really tired. What did I think she should do?

I think she should quit. Not quit speaking truth to power. Not quit calling out things she sees, but quit trying to wake up people that are only pretending to be asleep. Quit doing work that isn’t hers to do.

I am just now learning to take my own advice. Every day I wake up afraid. Every day I wonder what my president will say now. Every day I have kids to feed and school work to finish. I have a church to do my part in and a dream of writing to chase. What in the world should I be doing?

I should only be doing the work that is mine. If it feels impossible, I should seriously look into whether or not that work is mine. Maybe somebody has to do it. Maybe my name isn’t always somebody. Maybe it is okay to send in cookies but not volunteer for four hours if it will make me want to die. Maybe it is okay to only be the art director and not also volunteer for everything else at the church. Maybe I should pick my one thing (calling my Congress people almost every day) and let someone else write the postcards.

I know how much change there is that needs to happen in the world. I do. But maybe I need to find my easy yokes. Maybe `if` the yoke ain’t easy, the yoke ain’t mine. Maybe that is okay. Maybe I only need to carry my yoke. Maybe that could be enough.

 

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Abby Norman
Abby Norman lives, and loves in the city of Atlanta. She lives with her two hilarious children and a husband that doubles as her biggest fan. When not mothering, teaching, parenting or “wifeing”, she blogs at accidentaldevotional.com. Abby loves to make up words and is excited by the idea that Miriam Webster says you can verb things.
Abby Norman

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  • Shaley Hoogendoorn

    So good. I soooo needed this reminder! xo

  • Funny how easy it is for me to see clear through to a solution for others, but harder to take my own advice, questioning my motives, fearful of making a break with a yoke that has started to feel like an extra body part.
    I appreciate the clarity of your thinking, Abby.

  • sandyhay

    Bravo Abby. I had to learn (in my 40’s cause I’m not a fast learner) the difference between burden and burden. The burden where God is impressing on me that this area is one for me to step into vs I am so weighed down by this I want to crawl into a hole and die. You can loose a lot of friends this way but it saved my sanity 😉

    • Abby Norman

      SUCH a good distinction. Such a good distinction. Will be resting in this today.

  • Robin Baldwin

    Amen! It takes courage to say no in a world demanding yes all the time. Thanks reminding us that it’s okay to do only what we can do.

  • A friend said that she learn to ask herself, “What can only I do?” i.e., Only she can be wife to her husband and mother to her kids. But for other things, she asks that – can only she bring what a certain project or idea needs or can someone else do just as good of a job? I love that question and try to ask it often, not just when making big decisions.

  • Eva Englert

    Thank you for sharing your courage. Saying no is one of the most powerful things we can do sometimes.

  • Oh I love this! I have seen, over and over again people folding themselves in half backwards trying to do the work of God and convinced that it’s supposed to be hard because there’s just so much world to save. I have always believed that God does not call us to ruin. There is no call to wear ourselves to nubbins. Work, yes. Help, yes. But one person is called to everything.

  • Jill France

    maybe your sister has been telling you this for years, “say no abby, quit saying yes to all the things, find out what you really want to do with your time so you can enjoy it!”

    • Abby Norman

      SOrry Jill!

  • Stephanie Cater

    YES, Abby! I needed to hear this today – I’ve been feeling the weight and the drag in a particular part of my job lately, and maybe I’m trying to carry things that just aren’t my business to bear… Thank you <3

  • Oh man, I need these words so much. You have given me permission to unload some of the things I don’t think are actually mine. Thank you.