Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bearing Anothers Burdens - The Right Way

There is a healthy way to bear anothers burdens and there is a way that leads to personal emotional destruction.  Galatians 6:2 says, "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Part of our Christian walk is a call to help lighten the load of others, not to assume the load! Today Carol Brown continues her series on High Sensitivity with  keys to having a healthy burden bearing response.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5  

How Do You Drive This Thing?

It’s as if your highly sensitive body was a Ferrari type. If you would like to look under the hood, the explanation of the physical mechanism for how your brain synchronizes or adjusts the inner state of your being to match the inner state of another it is explained in appendix B of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity, p. 335. If we are to be joy filled Christians, we have to learn how to drive this thing rather than being run over by it. I have learned that Jesus needs to be the one in charge of the sensitivity of my spirit.  One thing I know about Jesus is that He is a good driver. He is a safe driver, but still, you’d best buckle up. He doesn’t slow down on the learning curve!

The problem is, how can I be highly sensitive and not be crushed by it? By knowing where and when it occurs and having a healthy response!

Where:  We will find ourselves soaking up another’s pain so they can carry on most often for those with whom we are the closest, family, friends, extended family, church family, school/work, tribe, state/province, nation. It sort of goes in concentric circles.

When do we absorb others problems?  We are designed to do this when the circumstances of life disable a person and…

·         They do not know they need to call out for help (i.e. they are overwhelmed and not aware)
·         They do not know they have the right to ask for help
·         They forget what they know about themselves, God, other, and life in times of trouble, confusion and distress
·         The enemy of their souls comes to rob, steal and kill
·         They are so loaded down with pain that they are unable to acknowledge it or face it and go into denial
·         The pain is so great they are sinking beneath the weight of it and cannot carry it to the Cross on their own

A Healthy Response:  High sensitivity makes it easy to transfer a portion of someone’s emotional baggage in exchange for some of your joy and vitality. The healthy response is a relational response that is simultaneously vertical to God and horizontal with your fellowman. Wonderful things flow from this connection: relief, healing, a sense of companionship, normal developmental things, and more.
To help your wrap your mind around a “global” experience that may take only seconds, here is a how it happens. (It is global in that it impacts all your senses simultaneously and at every level of being.)

  1.  You sense a person’s emotional state—empathy draws you to them.
  2.  You ask God if this is a burden you are supposed to deal with.
  3.  If not, then immediately ask the Lord to lift it off of you, up and out.
  4.   If this is a burden you are supposed to deal with, turn to God in prayer. Use what you sense and feel to tell Him what you and the person you are praying for need. The Holy Spirit draws the burden of others through and out of you.
  5. The Lord responds with loving comfort and healing for the person you are praying for and in the process you experience those blessings as well.

Because you are before God in prayer, as He releases His healing love toward the hurting person, it washes 
over you too!

What high sensitivity (empathetic burden bearing) does. Empathy appears to siphon off a bit of the load so people can begin to pray their own prayers, think their own thoughts, see options and function for themselves. It draws down their pain level to below the “overwhelmed” mark. If the process stops at this point, you wear the burden rather than let the Holy Spirit draw it on through you to the Cross where Jesus takes responsibility for it—you will bear the trouble/problem/confusion, but wrongly. You can, on your own, soak up a person’s pain without the power and aid of God’s Holy Spirit, but that is doing the work of the spirit with the strength of the soul. It might help the other person in the short run, but in time it wears you out and tempts you to bitterness and cynicism. It is like running on batteries rather than having a direct power source.

Turning to God in a conscious prayerful connection establishes a vertical relationship to go along with the horizontal one you already have going. The Holy Spirit in you gathers up the burden from all levels of your being and pulls the stress, trouble, and grief through you like thread through a needle to the Cross—the stopping place for all sin, pain and grief—where Jesus takes responsibility for it. When the Holy Spirit is in charge of your empathy you experience only enough of the other person’s trouble to pray intelligently and effectively so that the Lord can restore their ability to pray their own prayers, see options and make wise choices and godly decisions. Release from the burden comes to you, not from empathy, but when the Holy Spirit in you draws the burden through you to the Cross and exchanges the pain, trouble, turmoil or oppression in the one with whom you empathize for the Lord’s healing touch. He restores you as His life flows on, over and through you on its way to the troubled person.

By coming alongside someone who is overwhelmed and helping with the overwhelmed portion results in a deep sense of companionship. When you are overwhelmed, there is a strong sense of loneliness; companionship means the world! But it is very important that Jesus be in charge of your sensitivity, your compassion so that you do not have to experience “compassion fatigue.”

When you experience emotion that you think did not originate in to experiment. Turn to God and tell Him what you feel and what you would like Him to do about it. Ask Him who the feelings belong to. Does someone come to mind? Then ask Him to do what you asked for the person these feelings belong to. Notice what happens—what you feel and do not feel. In conversations casually ask people how things have been going. Expect God to do something…and look for what He did!

Put Jesus in Charge: You do not want to carry stuff you should not be carrying, and you do not want to be stuck with you can get rid of, so ask Jesus to be in charge of your sensitivity.

You can pray something like this: Lord Jesus Christ, I lay all my gifts on the altar—all my natural gifting, all ability to sense and feel things, all ability to know things. I place it all on the altar along with all other kinds of gifts: music, leadership, common sense, teaching, whatever abilities I have, I put on the altar. I choose to be dead to them—put me to death in relation to them. I know that You will give them back resurrected, refined, and directed by the Holy Spirit. I ask specifically that You would be in charge of the sensitivity of my spirit. I ask that You increase or decrease my sensitivity as You see is needed. I know and have confidence that You know me better than I know myself and You will do what is best for me. I thank You Lord Jesus. Amen

Please feel free to ask questions. I know I have not explained as fully as you may need, so ask away. This should get you started. You can put your questions in the comments box. Otherwise, you might find your question answered in The Mystery ofSpiritual Sensitivity, available at in print or ebook form. Click here for link to book

I look forward to answering your questions and celebrating your “aha!”

Carol Brown, B.A., MA, Educator, administrator, foreign student adviser, mom, pastor’s wife and author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive


  1. Having learned many years ago that I could turn things that were too difficult for me over to God, and He would take care of it, I often had to fight a sense of guilt that I was not strong enough to have lasted longer. What an uplifting perspective that we were never meant to carry these things "by ourselves" in the first place, and what a wonderful revelation that we can do this for others, as well. Thank you, again, Carol!

  2. Amen Lilly! Learning this makes all the difference and allows us to comfort others without becoming consumed by their issues. Blessings to you!

  3. Yes, I think if the enemy can't stop us he tries to push us to take on more responsibility than we were built for!

  4. Love this post and there's no way I could tote all my own "baggage!" I learned this years while I was on my cancer journey and also sharing my mother's Alzheimer's journey. Our dependency on God reflects our faith and draws us closer to Him. Thanks for a great post!

  5. Oh, but we try! And then sometimes He has to allow us to break so that we learn the stuff of which we are made--and it is not titanium! What a blessing to learn this sooner rather than later.