Neurotic, or Burden Bearer?


Negative thoughts flap around my head like a flock of angry crows.

I’m on the way to work, my shift at the prayer room, but I feel like I’m walking through mud.

Ugh, Lord, I repent….

I feel like my prayers are like pebbles in a slingshot, occasionally taking down a crow, but mostly just winging off into the air.

My chest is burning.  There’s a groaning somewhere deep inside.

Although I want to curl up in a ball on the sidewalk, I resolutely set my face towards the prayer room and keep walking..

I’m a burden bearer. A travail-er… I have been for years, and I’m still trying to figure it out. Never sure if I’m neurotic, emotionally messed up, or if I’m getting a prayer assignment.

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I can feel it sometimes when I walk into a room. I discern the emotional climate of a space, involuntarily tuning into the thoughts and feelings of those around me.

Other times a burden just starts swirling round in my spirit.

I have found it helpful to be aware of my own emotional baseline, my regular highs and lows, so that when emotions spike strongly in either direction, that tips me off to the fact that something is up.

Eventually, I make it to the prayer room.  As I settle into my chair I also settle into a strong sense of Gods presence. The burning and groaning inside me increases. Deep conviction falls on my heart and I choke out my prayers, weeping (Note to self. Don’t bother putting on mascara in the mornings.   Another note to self.  Buy more Kleenex for the prayer room).

The crows scatter.

The burden lifts.

I am exhausted, emotionally raw, but peaceful.

I guess I’m not neurotic, at least not this time.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26,27

Worth The Wait

It was a rescue.

My neighbour moved and I inherited her plants.  I wasn’t sure what to do with this one.  It had been inexpertly pruned, and all that was left was a spindly stalk with a couple of leaves.  Like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, but more bedraggled.  It was coated with dust and smelled of cigarette smoke.

I’ve always loved the underdog, the down and out, so I decided to keep it.  I put it in the sun, watered and fertilized it, and waited.  I’m not a plant whisperer, but I did speak to it a couple of times.


Not a bud.

It sat there.  Stoic and immovable.

For a year.

My friend Peter is a horticulturalist.  He transported our plants for us when we moved to Hamilton.

“You should just throw this one out,” he said, shaking his head.

Call me optimistic.  Or maybe just stubborn.  But I wasn’t ready to give it up for mulch yet.

Suddenly, one day, a leaf began to bud.  And then another.  And another.  Stretching into the sun like after a long steep, it began to rouse and grow.


It reminds me of one of my favourite Michael Gungor songs, “All around, life is springing up from this old ground.  Out of chaos life is being found in You.”

I’m glad I waited.  Holding out over a couple years of apparent unfruitfulness.

Once a plant begins to grow and produce more leaves, those leaves convert more light into energy and create even more leaves.  Growth creates capacity for more growth.

11 1/2 years into the life of GOHOP, we are experiencing a growth spurt.  Our internship, Studies in New Monasticism, has worked out way better than we imagined it would.  It has been rich and exciting, full of life.  Several excellent new staff come on board.  At our recent 24/14 Prayer event for Hamilton, we had over 450 visits to the prayer room, from 76 different churches.  Many churches have opened their doors and invited us in to equip their congregations.  We are seeing answers to prayer, and we are deeply encouraged.

All around, life is springing up in this old ground.

It was worth the wait.