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The Weight of the World: How to Bear it Just a Little Better

Friends, I have such a heavy heart today.  Also my stomach, my chest and my throat feel like they are being sucked slowly into the ground.  And why?  Everything.  Because of everything.  Everywhere.  Syria, Ukraine, Gaza, Iraq. Ebola.  Friends who are grieving or ill.  Small burdens and gigantic ones.  I am feeling the weight of the world.
be softMy day began with weeping because I looked at news headlines on my phone before I got out of bed (yes, a habit that I need to break right away.)  And through the morning, I am seeing awful pictures and stories everywhere.  I don’t watch the news, and don’t get the newspaper.  I am too sensitive to stomach all of the stories on a daily basis.

But this is different.  These stories must be seen and heard. On the one hand, I want to hide completely, and just not know.  On the other hand, this is my world, these are my fellow humans.  It could be me.  It could be you.  I can’t ignore it.

I am trying to find that space between total heartbreak and disbelief at the horror and suffering in the world today, and experiencing gratitude and being present for my privileged and peaceful life. I’m not sure how, though.

I imagine that many of you are feeling the same way.  I don’t have  anything easy or tidy to say about how to handle this.  But I can share some thoughts and ideas of how to help others and yourselves in the midst of so much devastation around us.

Bearing it a little better…

1. Talk about it.  Share the stories that matter to you.

2.  Help those who are helping.  I cannot go there, but others have chosen to.  Find out who is helping, and how you can contribute.  Again, the need feels overwhelming, and it’s easy to shut down and feel that you cannot make a difference.  But you can.  Your money helps.  To be honest, I don’t know all of the resources here.

3.  Pray or send heartfelt thoughts of healing.  The idea of praying for everyone, everywhere is too much for me.  This morning, I focused my attention on one child in Iraq (a face that came to my mind,) gave her a name, and prayed for her.  I have been praying for her family, too.  I can do that.  The need is overwhelming, so bring it in to a scale that you can handle.

4.  Love your family.  I cannot feed hungry refugees dinner tonight.  But I can feed my family.  I can love them, tell them what they mean to me.  Life is fragile, yet my small world of daily life is peaceful and frankly wonderful right now.  What good is any of that if I can’t allow myself to experience it?

5.  Love your neighbors.  Give kindness and generosity to those around you.  Have someone over for dinner, or send someone a card or a gift.  Help a new mom out, offer to babysit.  Give something frivolously fun to a sad or exhausted friend.  Volunteer in your community, or even just show up to celebrate or support someone you know.  Choose to be compassionate when someone is unkind or rude.  Just be a part of the good that is in the world.

6.  Take care of yourself.  It’s not selfish– it’s a basic requirement for being able to show up for others.  I am prone to sadness, particularly when faced with massive heartbreak around me. At least I know this by now, and know that I have to give myself extra grace and care, so that I can keep being present in my own life and for my family.  Here is a list of self-care ideas that I find helpful.  I’d also like to add gardening.  I think it’s an incredibly hopeful act.  I got a potato cylinder going today.

7.  Contribute to positive change in the world.  Don’t forget that there are a lot of ways that we can be positive contributors all over this world!  I feel that it’s especially important right now to empower women in developing countries–  I believe that they are the key players in fighting poverty.

Personally, I love what Heifer International is doing, and I want to participate.

hero-farmingImage from Heifer International

8.  Give yourself a break from the news.  It’s overwhelming, and it’s OK for you to take a day or two off of the news headlines.  Recharge, focus on the good around you, and allow yourself some renewal when you need it, so you can engage more effectively.

 

There is so much need in the world, so much heartbreak.  And there is also a whole lot of love and hope beauty, too.  Can we take both in at the same time?  I’d like to try.

How do you handle the weight of the world in times like this?  What makes a difference for you?

 

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12 Responses to The Weight of the World: How to Bear it Just a Little Better

  1. NinnyNoodleNoo August 8, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Gah! I have a habit of checking the news in bed too and was of the same thought: I really must stop doing that (but it’s often pretty much the only ‘private time’ I get to do these things as I don’t like to have the TV or radio news on around the children in the day) and yes, regular tears – but my tears are tiny drops when in comparison to the suffering of many. I love the quote, because it really sums up how I feel about the world too. x

  2. Willydee August 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    I love this post because it becomes present with reality. I handle it with faith, and grieving. My faith in Lord helps me understand how there is life beyond this context. Secondly, grieving allows me to find joy again in the midst of all of it. It also keeps my heart soft to love others today.

  3. Sheri August 9, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Excellent post! When you feel alone or overwhelmed pray out to Yeshua- In any language, His name means “The Lord Is Salvation.”

  4. Ed Shackelford August 9, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Good post, Ariana. My heart is aching too… Thanks for sharing the links so people can do more than watch it happen.

  5. Daniel August 9, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

    In many of the affected areas there are existing churches or groups of Christians that are helping. In the areas in the Middle East, the IOCC provides relief and long-term support.(See http://iocc.org/countries/countries_jerusalem.aspx, http://iocc.org/countries/countries_syria.aspx, ) The Gaza Relief Fund is used directly for this assistance in Gaza: https://9586.thankyou4caring.org/pages/gaza-relief-fund.

  6. Marisa August 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    This is a great post Ariana – and I am so with you. Been feeling a lot of upset and anxiety over the state of the world. It seems like it is one horrific thing after another, and another and another. You’ve shared some beautiful words of wisdom here on ways to deal with this and digest it. Thank you :)

  7. martieinstein August 10, 2014 at 1:33 am #

    I have been reading your blog for awhile, but never felt compelled to comment until now. I have been feeling the same way and recently one of my friends shared this Anne Lamott post on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/AnneLamott/posts/524013137728334) and I found it to be quite moving.

  8. lns August 13, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    this video is worth watching through…there are answers…there is hope http://www.jw.org/en/video-why-study-the-bible/

  9. Lauren August 15, 2014 at 9:21 pm #

    We went for a family walk the other night – in a break in this interminable drizzle we’ve been having – and I raged to my husband about ISIS, somehow winding up asking what the heck a “military genius” is if not just someone with nerves of steel, a low value for life, and a huge budget. As a non-religious person the outlet of prayer is taken from me as I rail against the ineffectuality of my situation: given up a career in development to wind up with a lovely little home in a peaceful little German town, healthy little family, and no idea how, as Miss Rumphius does, to “make the world more beautiful”. Somehow, in the face of such suffering in others, living well does not seem … enough. Not loud enough, I guess. Not fair. Not right. But you are right, there are always ways to contribute, and to not allow these things – these PEOPLE – to be forgotten in favour of the reopening of football season.
    http://www.amazon.com/Miss-Rumphius-Barbara-Cooney/dp/0140505393

  10. Susan Gaines September 9, 2015 at 11:55 pm #

    Good, true and helpful post. Thank you.

  11. Cydney March 2, 2017 at 10:54 pm #

    Thank you so much. <3 blessings

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