They say that weight can creep up on you. Little by little it’s added and if it happens slowly enough you don’t realize it until you collapse… unable to carry on. When we talk about physical weight we think that can’t happen because there are indicators. The clothes that are too tight, the space that is harder to squeeze through, the belt that needs to be let out a notch. But I think it’s still true that we are often surprised by how much weight has been added when we finally step on a scale and check!
Emotional weight doesn’t have an obvious way to check what we’re carrying. There is no scale to step on to see the amount of stress, drama, fatigue or pressure we’re carrying. These things slowly build up and start to affect our appetite, our sleep, our patience, our relationships… and we don’t always link the outward signs to what is actually going on.
Covid-19 has been a long hard haul for some people. Uncertainty and fear, frustration and financial stress, isolation and irritation. All become weights we don’t even realize we’re carrying. Then one day you snap and behave in a way you are embarrassed about later… but it wasn’t the incident itself it was the weight you were carrying without knowing. That weight has worn you down to where you can’t bear any more.
Foster Care is a long journey of carrying weights you can’t see. As a foster parent you take a new person into your family who has come from a level of trauma you can’t fully comprehend… but you shoulder the weight. You begin getting them into school and relationships with their peers and as they struggle you shoulder the weight. You take them to therapy and meetings and court… all things that no child should be familiar with and you shoulder the weight… You have bigger shoulders that they do, you can carry more, but everyone has a limit.
They carry the weight of a past marked by trauma, the heartbreak of neglect, mistrust, and shattered dreams. They must carry the weight of uncertainty in not having a permanent home. As Case Workers and Lawyers and others make decisions about them and for them… they carry the weight of wanting to be heard and not feeling they have a voice. As their appetite wanes and their sleep is sporadic they don’t see the cause is the weight that they are carrying.
Then one day they are told that discussions for change have stopped. The plan for the next 9 months is solid. You are here, you are safe, you are loved. Plan your summer and enjoy.
The surprising result was a child sitting down at the table and eating better than they had in weeks and sleeping so soundly they had to be woken for school the next day. Instant evidence that a weight they didn’t know they were carrying was lifted. Maybe only for a season… but every day counts. We all breath and silently rejoice… aware that there is also reason to mourn for a family that may never be rebuilt. A different weight to carry.
So if you’re feeling down, struggling to eat (or eating all the time), laying awake at night (or taking naps all day), snapping at those you love and spending endless hours doing pointless things(Netflix) and then feeling like you wasted the day…
Let me be a weigh scale for you and tell you that you are carrying more than you know!!
You need to shed some weight! Reach out to a friend. Do something that helps you burn off some steam and get those endorphins flowing in spite of Covid. Re-engage with a faith community and seek peace and purpose. Look at what you have to offer and do something for others. Learn something new. Celebrate something small (or big). Do something creative. Stop watching the news. Stay out of the drama. Choose joy. Spring is coming! It always does eventually.
Sometimes you can’t get rid of the weight completely but you can always lighten the load. Don’t carry what can ride on the wheelbarrow! Work smarter not harder.
You are worth it. You can do it.
In the midst of the mess