Grace to you!
Those who have a privileged access to people's inner struggles, sufferings and anxieties are prone to depression. First on the lists are moms and dads. Others may include health practitioners and religious leaders.
Moms and dads often carry the burdens of their children. In particular, parents with a sick or a humbling child are frequently in pain.
Also, many are doctors, nurses, hospital chaplains, social workers and psychologists who suffer because they are weighed down by the pains of their patients/clients. Also, it’s not uncommon to find priests suffering from depression, having soaked in many of the burdens of those who poured their pains to them. This is one of the hazards of the priestly ministry, especially as it relates to Confession, spiritual direction and counseling.
It's hard not to feel the pains of others as they share the most vivid aspects of their struggles. Despite all the training and professional procedures of how not to allow the “client’s” problems to become personal, the actual practice of professional distance isn't easy to do. No person with a heart and a soul (unless a sadist) would see a fellow human being beaten and broken by sufferings, shivering from the bitter experiences of life, and not be impacted. Hence, it’s crucial to know what to do when another’s burdens are getting to us.
The biblical story of Moses in Numbers chapter 11 verses 4 to 15 is a good example of how to manage the pains of others as a leader.
One has, at least, two choices to make in dealing with people’s pains and worries. Take it in and let it interiorize and weigh you down. Or take it out to the one who has the power to take it off, solve or resolve it. Moses did the latter.
The people complained bitterly that they had no meat. This was causing so much anxiety and conflict in the community. Moses, being a good leader, knew he couldn’t solve their problem by himself. He equally knew he had to report back to the right person who could solve the problem. He allowed his frustration to flow not back to the complaining people, but to the Lord.
This is another thing to know for leaders and all of us are leaders in some ways. When people under your supervision or those we serve complain about something, never throw it back at them. Listen.
But for your personal health, especially for those dealing with spiritual matters, take all their concerns back to God. Listening to the problems should be a forum for becoming an intercessory listener. An intercessory listener takes all worries to the proper channel of problem solving.
The world's problems are humongous, sometimes overwhelming. So if you carry them on your shoulders, they will weigh you down and break you. But if you take them to Christ, you’ll find relief.
The Lord Jesus Christ tells us: “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28).
Are you burdened? Take it to Jesus.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday 18th Week Ordinary Time A: Nm 11:4-15; Mt 14:13-21]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.