In the rush of finishing another school year, coaching, working full-time and raising two kids, I would describe the last few months as brutal. Anyone from Minnesota also knows that we had one of the longest winters on record with not one, but two snowstorms in May.
It was enough to drive a person a little crazy, a lot depressed and mega-anxious.
I wanted to complain, I really did. Why should one person have to pack so much into one day and call it a life? It seemed inhumane and ridiculous. I thought about what I could possibly downsize, give up, delay or delegate...and the results weren't enough to bring any sense of relief.
As I sat at my computer to seek sympathy on Facebook (yep) a voice in my head suddenly spoke up.
"Oh, you got it so tough."
Actually, the voice belonged to my father-in-law. It was something he told my husband one early morning decades ago during his summer job in bridge construction. My husband, then in his early 20s, had complained about being tired. "Oh, you got it so tough," said Doug, a chain-smoking, hard-driving bridge superintendent who traveled thousands of miles before the crack of dawn to wherever the jobs took him. See, Doug knew that Andy was on his way to better things, but if he didn't understand his blessings then, he wouldn't later when life was different.
To this day, Andy and I still recite that phrase, "Oh, you got it so tough," when either of us starts to complain. Doug passed away almost a year ago, but this simple phrase keeps his spirit present as we walk through the middle of our lives.
After hearing Doug's words in my head yet one more time, I erased what I'd typed online before posting. Instead, I thought about all the ways I was blessed and supported. First of all, a toughened marriage brings multiple blessings. Where I fall down, Andy picks up the pieces and runs ahead. Then I catch up and lighten his burdens. As we work together, we learn to appreciate the other's strengths and allow a little more pride, a little more pain, to slip away...inviting the other person closer.
As we work together, our kids learn how to deal with stress, time management and relationships. They do better in school, they make friends, they get involved in activities that build their toughness for life without us some day.
When our family and home are healthy and managed, then we find that we have the patience, time and energy to devote not only to better performance at work, but also to friends and our community. We are present, engaged, and even enjoying the extra hours and commitment.
Suddenly, the burden isn't a burden at all. It's a delight to be needed. It's an honor to contribute. It's a joy to HAVE this life with all its surprises, struggles and triumphs. Whether it's in our homes or in various teams working toward a common goal, we ARE together.
And together, it's really not so tough.
"Come to me, all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."