"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." - Mt11:28-30
Although generalizations are often inaccurate and unfair, I'm going make one anyway. Americans have a hard time with rest. Somehow we think that the busier we are the happier and successful we will be. And if we're not busy we might feel guilty because we're "slacking." It's not just our professional life. Home isn't a resting spot either. I know it's hard for me to sit down without thinking of all the things that need to be done. Of course, different periods of our life are busier than others. Ask the parents of a new born how they're doing in the rest department. Throughout the different phases of life or even each year, our responsibilities vary. Deep down, though, I believe we long for rest. Not a nap, but rest of body and mind. That's the kind that Jesus is offering.
Being meek and humble of heart is where he tells us to start. Are we overburdened because we feel we have to have things done our way in order to have them done right? Are we stressed over what others are doing, saying, wearing or even what they may be thinking? A little meekness can go a long way here. Please don't confuse meekness with passiveness or cowardice. A meek person is one who doesn't have to inject themselves into every issue or relationship. They're willing to step back a little and give others space. It doesn't mean you have to be a door mat. Remember, the meek are going to inherit the earth! But sometimes letting someone else have their way, "just because," not only gives them a break, it gives us one as well.
Jesus says he is humble of heart. I think that to have a humble heart means to not be too impressed with ourselves, and remembering that all our talents are gifts from God. To be humble doesn't mean to deny that we have these gifts; it means to keep a proper perspective. If you're a genius, God has a plan for all that brain power. If you're the next Mozart, God meant that gift to be shared to brighten the world. We all have our part to play in the unfolding of the universe. But if you're not Einstein or a piano prodigy, don't belittle your gifts either, that's not humility. Maybe you're one of those people who always find a way to encourage someone, or maybe you're the person in your family that gets Thanksgiving dinner organized every year. What you're adding to the story may be having a bigger impact than you'll ever know. Recognizing other's gifts and being a thankful steward of our own is a sign of a humble heart. Embracing who we are is much more restful than expending all our energy trying to be someone else.
Yokes enable horses or oxen or people to carry their burden. If we take on Jesus's yoke, his command to love others and to trust in him, the burdens we have, our actual responsibilities become an easier load. So whatever today holds for me, I'm going to pray for guidance, be grateful that I will be given what I need, do my best and then rest in the knowledge that God doesn't ask for any more than that.
Editor's note: Ellen Sargent is a long-time resident of the Marquette area and member of the Catholic Church. She is married to Mining Journal Managing Editor Bud Sargent.