"To invite the help and support of others, to release anxiety and worry, to face only one moment at a time, without clinging to the way I want things. I have so little experience being carried," Leah Perrault writes. Pixabay

Barefoot and Preaching: Being carried does not come naturally

  • October 16, 2018

After we are small children, it is rare that we are carried. Perhaps for a joke or dare, a photo-op at a threshold, maybe in the case of injury, or in certain situations in old age? My baby is big enough now I rarely carry his full weight unless he is asleep.

I was always way too worried about getting into trouble or getting hurt to allow much play carrying. My marriage is too egalitarian to take a photo unless there is a way to depict us carrying each other. I have not aged to a point where physical transfer is necessary, and none of my physical injuries have been serious enough to require a stretcher or wheelchair. Thank God.

I do not want to be carried. And this resistance is a weakness.

It has been nearly two years now of not having the resources or capacity to do everything for myself or my family. My body has not needed carrying, but pretty much every other area of my life has been picked up by others for at least a time. The cooking. Child care. Laundry. Kids’ activities. I have gotten better at asking for help and receiving it. 

Over the past month, I have been walking through the early stages of slow court proceedings following my sister’s violent death last year. Even as I rationalize my need for support, I feel like there is a limit of acceptable carrying. The line is wherever I am even the least bit capable of doing it for myself. I feel guilty about receiving, worried about being a burden.

My head knows how many people have loved us, how they have longed to ease the burden, and been grateful for every time we reached out to ask for assistance. Still my heart feels unworthy at some deep level. God is carrying me and I’m trying to leap out of His arms to do it myself.

This is the invitation before me now: to let myself be carried into a most difficult part of my story. To invite the help and support of others, to release anxiety and worry, to face only one moment at a time, without clinging to the way I want things. I have so little experience being carried. Practising is tedious. 

I pick up my little guy and I notice that relaxing into rest is a process for him. He begins restless and distracted. Resistant and irritable. 

As I walk with him gently, going about the tidying up at a snail’s pace, he slows too. The stuffed moose gets wedged in beside his face by a sibling. He begins to stare off into space. His head finds the cradle of my arm. He smiles sleepily. He drifts off, and I am filled with the joy of being his resting place.

I want to rest, fully and completely. To will myself to be carried, awake and at rest, by the loving care of my people and in the unwavering foundation that is God.  But I need so much more practice.

I built a wall around my heart so that I couldn’t feel the love that carried me. I am finding a few practices to bore holes in the bedrock. It is like preschool for this senior perfectionist. 

First, to breathe, deeply and often, as a silent prayer. In with the air I need to breathe and out with the lie of not needing anything. My need is an opportunity to receive the gifts of others. God is breathing life into me in every moment. 

Next, I am stopping several times a day to sink into the things that support me physically. The ground beneath my feet. The chair holding me from falling. The arms of my husband and parents, siblings and extended family. I am trying to let them hold me a little longer. To rest there.

Finally, I am praying surrender for myself and with my people. Moment by moment, I whisper release. I want to be good at this but for now, I will glory in the desire to let God be God. Maybe in the quiet, while God is busy tidying things up slowly, I will start to stare off by accident and be carried into rest for even just a few minutes. 

It takes effort, but a gentle effort, an oxymoron I am learning to embrace.

I am going to try to rest. If — when — I try to get up too quickly, I may need to be carried. I have a feeling that the practice is still going to take awhile.

(Perreault works in Catholic health care in Saskatoon and writes and speaks about faith. Her website is leahperrault.com)

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