Carrying Rocks: Stress Weighing on Us Today

By: Beth Gillem
| August 15, 2020 |

Since moving to North Alabama the kids and I have been able to explore several new hiking trails. On the walk, they love to collect rocks…but like all kids, they don’t like to carry those rocks while hiking. 

“Mom, look at this rock!! Here keep it for me!” Of course, I am glad to but as the hike wears on I realized my backpack that started out with some “mom essentials” like water bottles, a few snacks, bandaids, and bug repellant begins to really get heavy. Even with the lesser weight of the gulped down water during our breaks, my pack feels like a ton of bricks on my back. The rocks I am carrying make it difficult to do even simple things like walking. 

How many rocks are you carrying?

It reminded me of a lesson a dear friend shared with me. Her adult child is far away and facing a very lengthy trial. She is helpless for the most part at being there with them and limited on how she can help them through it. I asked her how she carried such a burden with such strength and grace…her words have echoed in my head often.

“We are all carrying a backpack. Some days the weight of my worry and heartache feel like heavy stones and I am always aware of the burden in my pack. Other days, usually after lots of prayer and scripture reminders, my pack seems lighter and almost like it is not there. Some days my backpack is very light and some days it almost overwhelms me with its weight. I know God will get me and him through this though.”

Just like her, my backpack often feels heavy-especially right now. The Covid-19 virus has added so many rocks to carry on top of the burdens we carried even before the craziness of this year. All of the sudden we have to decide what’s best for our families, school decisions, work decisions (so many are out of work), we have to balance working from home with home life, we miss our friends, family and just miss this normal we were so used to. We are carrying lots of rocks in our backpack. It is heavy. 

A Stress Perspective 

The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory is a list of stressful life events with a designated point scale for each. When you add up the life events you are experiencing and add up the points, it gives you a good idea of the amount of stress your body is feeling and how you can expect that to affect your health. 

stress, Carrying Rocks: Stress Weighing on Us Today, Dogwood Journal

You can check out the entire pdf here. Take a look at the graphic below of other life stressors from the list that particularly apply to what so many of us are going through during this Covid-19 season. 

stress, Carrying Rocks: Stress Weighing on Us Today, Dogwood Journal

Counselors will tell you that a total score of 100 or close to it is a heavy load for anyone to carry. A very quick calculation of my stress leaves me at 282….that is a heavy backpack. I bet yours is heavy too- at least heavier than we are accustomed to. 

There is Hope

I don’t share the stress numbers above to scare you or add to your burden. I share them so you know what you are feeling is real and shared by many. Perhaps also to give you permission to take care of yourself a little bit more and be very mindful of loved ones around you who are dealing with heavy backpacks also. 

Adrian Rogers shared that “Prolonged stress does to you what sand does to machinery.” The tiny grains of sand slowly wear out the strong metal eventually causing it to malfunction. Even small prolonged stressors on our bodies can, over time, cause us health and emotional malfunctions. We have to find healthy ways to manage stress in our lives.

There is hope. There is always hope even when you can’t see or feel it. Sometimes we need some quiet time away to pray, sometimes we need to be around people who make us smile and laugh, sometimes we need the help of professionals,  sometimes we need a good cry but God provides ways to lighten our burdens if we seek him. One of my very favorite verses in times of stress and trial is 

Matthew 11:28-30

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

My faith in Christ does not exempt me from stress and trials in this life but it sure does help me get through them. 

I will close with my very favorite quote from Max Lucado from his book “You’ll Get Through This”

stress, Carrying Rocks: Stress Weighing on Us Today, Dogwood Journal

  “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. In the meantime don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you will get through this.” 

Your backpack will not always be this heavy. 

God will help lighten your load. 

Things will get better. 

You will get through this. 

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