| from Melissa Hannigan |

Have you ever dreaded doing something, like cleaning your house or doing laundry, but have no problem doing it for someone else? It seems so much easier when it’s someone else’s mess, or kids, or burdens, right?

I experienced this recently while working out at the gym with a friend. The workout was hard that night. I was exhausted and so was my friend.

I finished up with my weights and attempted to put them back on the rack. They felt a million times heavier than when I started the set and I struggled to stack them back on the rack. Meanwhile, I noticed that my friend was finishing up as well and she looked to be struggling as much as I was.

Naturally I wanted to be helpful and put her weights up, too. As I picked them up I was surprised by how light they seemed. I thought, there is no way she is lifting lighter weights than me. She is much stronger than I am. So I looked at the actual weight and was surprised to discover that they were not lighter. They were the exact same weight that I had just struggled to lift moments before. They only felt lighter because they weren’t my own.

How true this is in life. It always feels lighter to carry others’ weights, maybe not literal weights but figurative weights, their burdens. The Bible commands us to do this. We are called to carry each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). This is so encouraging because if we all choose to carry one another’s burdens, the load we carry will feel lighter and we can all get a lot more accomplished. Not only that, but research shows that helping others benefits us, too! As we help carry the burdens of others, we experience a decrease in depression and a boost to our mood. God who created us, knew that we all benefit when we choose to lift one another’s burdens.

So many around us are struggling, hurting, and scared. This year has been rough. So this time of Thanksgiving, and the upcoming season of Christmas cheer, are the perfect times as a family to look around for needs that we can help meet and burdens we can help lift. Yes, as a family! Involve your children.

A local foster care ministry at my church is a beautiful example of this. People live out Galatians 6:2 through Fostering Hope, a city-wide support network for foster families in our area. This team seeks out ways to meet specific needs. Whether delivering hot meals on difficult days or diapers when the family runs out or meeting another need, this ministry supports the families by carrying the burden of foster care.

Do you know that, statistically speaking, foster parents who have a team helping carry their burdens are significantly more likely to continue to impact children’s lives compared to foster parents who do not have that support? It’s true! Fifty percent of foster parents stop fostering within the first year unless they have support. When others help to lighten the weight of the job, ninety percent continue serving in foster care. Isn’t that incredible?! I imagine similar results are true in other ministries. God calls us to carry other’s burdens because it makes a difference. We really can make a difference! You and your family can make a difference! 

You may not feel called to foster care ministry but look around. There is someone that has a burden that you and your family can help carry and this holiday season is the perfect time to start. So brainstorm with you kids and ask God for eyes to see needs. Ask for wisdom on how to meet those needs and I am certain He will give you plenty of opportunities to live out Galatians 6:2 in your life and your home! 

Let’s remember to let others help lift our burdens as well. We’ll all be encouraged when we help lift the load and let others lift ours. May these seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas cheer be even brighter and lighter as we look for ways to carry the weight of those around us while sharing our weight with others, too!

As a homeschool mom of four kids, Melissa uses her background in child development and counseling to keep her family from going completely off the rails.  Melissa discovered her passion for helping kids meet their fullest potential over 15 years ago. As a therapist, she has worked with children in head start, foster care, and in detention facilities to provide them the tools they need for success.  Melissa has also served hundreds of young people through her local church.  Her unique sense of humor, paired with a desire to make tough topics easy to talk about, makes her relatable to most parents struggling to keep their head above water in today’s cultural climate.  Whether she’s serving the “Happy Hannigan’s” or the “Hot Mess Hannigan’s”(it depends on the day!) she does it alongside her best friend and partner in life, John.  Melissa is an Associate with Celebrate Kids where she writes and speaks about a variety of topics.