Carrying Burdens That Don’t Belong to Us

burden on bike

Image by grame_newcomb

Are you feeling overwhelmed? Is it possible that those burdens you’re carrying were never yours to carry in the first place?

When we get off course, God is so faithful to intervene and use any number of ways to gently guide us back to where we ought to be. In my case, He most recently used my husband to bring some correction and encouragement that I so desperately needed.

Since the birth of my 3rd baby, about 3 months ago, I have been dealing with a significant amount of stress. Almost daily, I have felt entirely overwhelmed and far too busy. I didn’t feel that I had enough time to do all that needed to be done. I was struggling with discouragement, anger and some depression.

My husband had often admonished me during this time that God does not give us more to do each day than we are capable of handling and accomplishing (through His grace, of course). Truthfully, I couldn’t see how this was true and felt that indeed, God was giving me more than I could handle. The combination of life events (not just the birth of a new baby, but many other circumstances in addition) just felt like too much and I felt sorely inadequate. I was allowing my circumstances to distort my perception of God, believing that He was allowing me to be in this stressful place and doubting in His goodness.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a much needed conversation where I finally admitted how I was feeling. He suggested that I was letting many other feelings of obligation, expectation, and my own pride get in the way of the few things that God was actually calling me to focus on and accomplish. Many of the things that I was allowing to stress me out were far above and beyond the true priorities that I needed to be focusing on.

To help me get back on track and simplify the to-do list that I kept creating for myself, Ryan made this for me:


You can see that I have 3 main priorities:

  1. Spend time in prayer, reading scripture, and meditating on the gospel.
  2. Feed my family
  3. Instruct the kids (teaching and training)

In addition to this, I can add 3 other items, but they are not to take priority until my first three items are under control. If that is all that I accomplish each day, it is enough! My day is a success. I have done what is most important and everything else can slide if it has to.

I cannot even begin to tell you what a weight has dropped off of my shoulders. These are my priorities in this season of life and I am not a failure if I do not accomplish some self-imposed list of other things!

I was reflecting on this during my quiet time the other day and here is what I wrote in my journal:
“I quickly become overwhelmed in life when I try to do and accomplish all that I think needs to be done, without bringing it before the Lord and asking instead, what does He have for me? He does not give us more than we can bear. His burden is easy; His yoke is light. If it feels heavy, oppressive, or impossible then chances are good that I have picked up burdens that are not mine to bear.”

Have you picked up burdens that you do not need to be carrying? How do you stay faithful to the calling that you have received?

Similar Posts


  1. Well, I am always torn between just too much! I take one day at a time…
    Getting up early…eating well …planning and organizing helps the stress!
    sandy toe
    .-= sandy toe´s last blog ..Early Afternoon~ =-.

  2. I am in just the same boat as you are except for there are different factors (no new baby for example). EVERY day for the last month or so I have been getting up and praying that I have absolutely no idea how I can make it through the day, I have no idea what God’s plan is here, and for Him to show me clarity, peace, and wisdom. I have been earnestly trying to take more and more things off of the plate of expectations I presented myself, but it is SO HARD. It’s hard for me to admit I’m not super-woman, and it’s hard for me to back off and tell people that the things I usually commit to are too much.

    Every time I take something out of the equation it gets better, but I am still left with what seems to be non-negotiable and yet an insurmountable mountain.

    thank you for posting that you are having the same issues. It is so hard to admit. I think your husband is so sweet for helping you with your priorities.

  3. Thank you for this post. It is so easy to get bogged down doing things we don’t need to do rather than focusing on the blessed priorities God has given us in this season of life: honoring Him as a wife a mama. 🙂
    .-= Mary Jo´s last blog ..Menu Plan, 11/16-11/22 =-.

  4. Yes, yes! All the time. So glad to hear God working through your husband to lighten your load. I love the phrase “carrying burdens that don’t belong to us”. I’m going to be thinking of that today. Thanks for being transparent so that we might be encouraged =)
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..My "bumper sticker" for these baby-years =-.

  5. Thank you for this post! It really spoke to me because I tend to put the same pressure on myself. In this season of my life I am an active duty US Coast Guard member (praying to get an early discharge after I give birth), 7 months pregnant with my first baby and alone because my husband is in the middle of a seven month deployment with the Navy. I know for me it takes an conscious effort to remember that God has not given me more than I can handle or bear. Another thing that is important and sometimes just as hard to remember is that we cannot trust our emotions or feelings. We would all be in a world of hurt if every thought or feeling we had about ourselves or our circumstances were true wouldn’t we?!
    Thank you for the hard work you put into your blog. I have been visiting you everyday here since the beginning of June and I have learned a lot and been encouraged! I immensly look forward to the day when I can be the stay-at-home mom I believe God has called me to be and blogs such as yours hold high that calling which is so rare in this day and age.

    Blessings, Amanda

  6. Wow, this is a great post! I often have the same feelings because my instinct is to take on SO many projects at once. I have gotten much better in the last year at saying no to certain activities or tasks that would overextend me. Whenever I feel stressed out and too busy I do ask myself what things does God want me to be doing and which can I cut out. Thanks!
    .-= Greta @ Mom Living Healthy´s last blog ..Homemade Pizza Night =-.

  7. What an amazing husband you have to discern the reasons behind your feelings of stress & overwhelmed-ness! I love the priority list he made for you. Something like that would have been extremely useful during our recent season of immense grief. I love how it just makes the goals for the day seem so simple and do-able.

  8. I needed to hear this; I should be hearing this; I have a bad habit that has no need to be a habit, of carrying burdens.

    I agree with what Amanda said in her comment,Another thing that is important and sometimes just as hard to remember is that we cannot trust our emotions or feelings. We would all be in a world of hurt if every thought or feeling we had about ourselves or our circumstances were true wouldn’t we?!

    When we put too much trust in our emotions, we might as well put our trust on the ever changing waves of the ocean…one day it’s calm, the other day, rough seas.

    Yet, in and through our Heavenly Father, there is always a firm foundation.

    Excellent post and reminder; I wonder..is it an act of not trusting God by trying to do it ourselves and not bringing it to Him first?
    .-= Twinkle Mom @ Sunflower Faith´s last blog ..Word Fill Wednesday-Heal =-.

  9. Reading this post is exactly what I needed today. A friend sent me this link after discussing at Bible Study how devotions always seem to get put on the back burner. I love that list! I’m thinking of putting one up on my fridge…

    Last week I was at a Focus on Parenting seminar, and one of the speakers talked about Mary annointing Jesus’ feet with her jar of oil and the text says “she did what she could.” This lady, who was not rich or powerful or eloquent, saw that she had a jar of oil, and that she could glorify God with it. And it got me to thinking – I have four kids 5 and under, there’s a lot of things I would love to do for others and in my home but I can’t – but God is giving me everything I need to do what I CAN. I can teach my kids about Him. I can support my husband. I can double a batch and make a meal for someone else when I making my own meal. I have been focusing on what I am unable to do, rather than the path and tasks God in his wisdom has set before me.

  10. Your post is so true. I have six children and somedays just feel overwhelming from the minute I get out of bed. I have learned to stop at the end of the day and review what I have done. It is always so much more than I thought I was accomplishing while I was in the middle of the day! 🙂 I have also learned to be thankful if “all” I accomplished was feeding my family and teaching our children. It’s a hard lesson though, and one I often have to revisit. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. The last couple months, at least, I’ve been way too stressed (which manifests itself in my body: jaw clenching/grinding, etc.) Not good. Only yesterday, I realized I’ve been trying to carry an emotional burden that isn’t mine to shoulder. I try to be a peacemaker in relationships and a mediator but its gotten out of hand as people come to me rather than to the person they need to work out their problems with. Anyways, I need to step back and learn to quickly direct people elsewhere when appropriate and continue learning to hand all these things quickly to God so that they don’t consume me.

  12. This is a great post. Thank you for sharing such honest and real emotions so that others can be encouraged!!!

    I have been feeling similar in many ways. I am totally going to take that same list and replace my mile-long to do list with it. 🙂 I love it! You can thank your husband from me. 🙂

    I’ve been struggling with a lot of things like this…mostly it causes me to be angry. The other day I was so angry it was awful…but I didn’t know I was angry. I pleaded that God would please show me what the problem was…and then I knew. I was angry! I then prayed about why. It seems that I have been feeling angry because I am frustrated. I listened to a sermon about it and frustration is a type of anger that happens when our goals are blocked. I felt like my children were blocking my goals of my “to do” list! Now that I realise this, God is changing me and I feel so much joy now. I can’t believe how it helps me look at my children differently. I am so thankful to God for this.

    1. @Nola, That’s such good insight into anger and frustration, Nola! Thanks for sharing that. I sometimes feel that way with my children, too, when I have too much to do and the regular things that happen with children seem to get in the way of my plans. It helps me so much to realize that my children are FAR more important than any cleaning, errands, cooking, blogging,etc. that I feel the need to do!

      And sure, I’ll tell hubs thanks! 🙂

  13. Ditto! I only have one son, he’s 7 months, and I feel this way. Having a baby just threw my life into chaos- my time management skills anyway! I have a hard time getting everything done because every minute he’s awake I’m taking care of him, and by the time he finally sleeps- well I’m too exhausted to work. Anyway, thank you for the testimony of what God is teaching you. I’m going to use your idea of the priorities list. I know I pick up burdens everyday on my own that God doesn’t mean for me to.

  14. Can you just comment on how you do it all? I am a mother to three and with Bible study in the morning, cooking, homeschooling (only a bit at this point!), and housework I just can’t even fathom that you have a moment to “study,” blog, garden and make a life sized cardboard human with blow up balloon lungs :). I know you cook and I’ve started in on Nourishing Traditions but with all the soaking and prep work it’s a bit overwhelming. Are you particularly organized? Maybe someone else cleans for you or you have help from an extended family member…or maybe you are superwoman?? I mean this fondly, I really do, but I just have trouble understanding how you do it all…

    1. @Ali, Ali, I am definitely not superwoman (nor do I have any sort of household or family help- I only wish! 🙂 Perhaps I am somewhat organized, but I’m also just a really driven, motivated person. I’ve always been busier than a lot of other people I know. I suppose on I thrive on it a bit.

      BUT, I do not manage to “do it all”. I try, and fail, on a regular basis. Here’s a post I wrote, addressing the very question you asked:

  15. What a wonderful post! I found your website yesterday and I love it. Thanks for sharing your life. I can relate to this and will also create my own priority list, what a great idea!

  16. I agree! I have no ideas whatever endeavors you were doing other than what you post on your blog–which is mainly about eating healthy–but there are always all of these other things! It’s hard for me to remember that I am not responsible for the world! I , too, have struggled with PPD after the birth of babies, probably for the same reason you are! I could never let go! I always wanted everything perfect!
    It’s good that you are going to your husband for help. He sounds like a kind and gentle man who wants God’s best for you!
    .-= Jena´s last blog ..Pausing for Rhonda =-.

  17. Oh Stephanie, I cannot tell you how timely this post is for me. I, too, have been allowing my circumstances and challenges we are facing to distort my perception of God, finding him antagonizing instead of loving. I keep having conversations without myself that my feelings are not to be trusted when it comes to who God is. For this reason, I have decided to take a journey through the Psalms. David and other psalmists so honestly expresses his thoughts and feelings about God, but he always comes around to remembering who God really is. Bless you for your honesty and your encouragement to those of us facing similar challenges!

  18. Stephanie,
    What an encouraging post. And praise Jesus for our husbands that lead us back on track.
    I think most mothers struggle with having too much on their plates and it really is detrimental to the family dynamic, which is not of God. When we as momma’s are stressed, frazzled, harboring feelings of frustration and tired beyond belief, our families are the ones that suffer. This is not what God intended when He painted a portrait of the Proverbs 31 woman. Instead, this woman was first and foremost rooted in Him and from God came her strength. Like you said, He does not give us any more then we can handle at any given point.
    This was such a warm reminder that we all need to get our priorities straight, for both our families and our relationship with Jesus.
    Thanks for a beautiful post.
    Kelli @ SustainingCreativity
    .-= Kelli´s last blog ..Tasty Tuesday: My New Bread Pan =-.

  19. This whole week I’ve been pretty much laying on the couch since I had a stillborn birth on Sunday. I see clutter collecting all around me, and I hate clutter. But Dh and I have discussed what NEEDS to be done, and it’s time with the Lord, heal, and time with each of my precious children to help them work thru their own grief.

    When life doesn’t seem to be bringing LIFE, then we know we are out of sync. For the enemy comes to steal, kill & destroy…..so often, that’s in the area of our JOY. But Jesus came to give us life, and that LIFE ABUNDANTLY!!!!
    .-= Karen´s last blog ..Time on the Couch =-.

  20. Oh, I love this post. What a good reminder it is! I also love how your husband stepped in and helped you–that is a mark of a good marriage and I love seeing those kinds of testimonies 🙂 The world needs more of that! Best of luck simplifying. Not that you have time to add to your to-do list, but I read a book a couple years ago called “Breathe” by Keri Wyatt Kent that talks a LOT about this idea of simplifying our life to the necessities–God and our family. That might be something that might interest you!
    Elizabeth Carmen @ lifeblessons
    .-= elizabeth carmen´s last blog ..Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili Recipe: Add some spice to your autumn cuisine =-.

  21. wow. totally needed to read this post. I am an overachiever I’d say for sure. I want to do it all and I sometimes think I can, but then I have to stop. I have a 3 yr old and a 1 1/2 yr. old and it’s just not possible to always do everything you want to do in a day.
    Btw-I love reading your blog and am inspired by it often.
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Just Around the Corner =-.

  22. i would love to hear about your time with the Lord. I have such a hard time getting up BEFORE the kids in the morning. Do you struggle with this too?
    Also, what works for you in your quiet time?
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Just Around the Corner =-.

    1. @Sarah, Well, this week I’ve been fitting my times with the Lord in wherever I can. I’m sick and am struggling through the day, let alone getting up early.

      But usually, I try to get up a minimum of 1 hour before the kids (not necessarily before they wake, but before they’re allowed out of bed- we’ve trained them to stay in their room until they’re allowed out). That 1 hour gives me time to shower/dress, do devotions, exercise (3x a week) and just feel settled before everyone else is up. I struggle with it when I’m off schedule or not going to bed at a decent time. But when I get into the routine, it’s actually not too difficult and I am always just so happy that I made myself do it.

      At the moment, my quiet time is anywhere from 10-30 min. (depending on how much time I have). I’m currently reading through Paul’s epistles. No set schedule, I just read 1-3 chapters each day, stopping if something really strikes me or there’s something in the text that I need to pray through. Next I read a short bit from a book called The Gospel Primer, which has daily meditations focusing on the Gospel and how it works itself out in our lives. These bits take a couple minutes to read and then I meditate on what it said. Next I pray for the remainder of the time, about issues in my own life, for my family, for others in the church, for those yet to know Christ, etc. If anything that I read seems to really stand out to me, I’ll write a couple of verses or a quote or my own journal notes in a book I keep with my Bible. It’s a very simple little routine, with room to either shorten it or extend it as I need to/am able to. I don’t feel upset or behind if I miss a day and I can just pick up right where I left off. In this season of life, it’s really working for me!

  23. I needed to hear that, especially after the rollercoaster week I’ve had. I homeschool my children, am pregnant with boy #5, and my dh is deployed and won’t be home until after the baby is born. I constantly struggle with my own expectations and have been feeling angry all week over the smallest things. Of course, it has rubbed off on my sons and has made for a very chaotic week. The Lord uses people and blogs 🙂 to get messages through. Thanks!

  24. I like your list, but one thing that is important – so very important – and something that busy moms tend to leave on the wayside – is our husbands. I imagine that because your husband made the list that he didn’t put himself as a priority between God and your children, but that is where he needs to be. Even in a life as busy as some of us struggle with, taking thirty seconds to write him a quick “I love you” email to stopping what you’re doing to snuggle with him on the couch, loving him and abiding in him daily should be a top priority on that list.

    Resentment will eventually grow and marriages will eventually suffer if home and children constantly and continually take precedence over your mate. It’s something that women tend to not be taught, but it is, sadly, a lesson that is often learned.
    .-= Hallee´s last blog ..A Christian Response to Vampire Obsession =-.

  25. Wow. This is totally something I would benefit from!!! I am a ‘do-er’ and like to accomplish things during the day and to use my time wisely – however I only have one kiddo right now so I can see how you would feel like this with 3 kids!! I think I would like to do this as well. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  26. Thank you for this post. I have a 5 month old baby (my third) and I felt the exact same way. I think I will print out a list like this to help my priorities, especially during this “busy” season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *