Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Absorb

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Have you ever found yourself sad, angry or just happy not because of anything that happened to you but because it happened to someone else?

Given that we are living in a communal world, we easily take in the experiences of others around us no -- matter if we are trying to or not.

To this condition enter this week’s word: absorb. Absorb: to take in or soak up the attention or interest of someone.

For example, we sometimes cry at funerals even if we didn’t know the person well because we are so moved by their life. Anger rises up in us when we watch injustice happen on our tv. We smile with joy when we see a marriage proposal on the street.

To take in the feelings around is is to have a HEART (which is so beautiful!).

But is absorbing always a good thing?

Recently when I found myself in an emotionally heavy week, I realized that how I felt had everything to do with absorbing pain and disappointment of so many other people. I was taking in so much stuff. And I was exhausted.

Not that it isn't important to "bear one another's burdens" (or advocate against injustice) BUT sometimes we can easily get lost in a sea of emotions that are not ours to carry or not our work to do.

Absorbing pain that is not yours can easily lead to co-dependency as a way of life.

Let me offer you this. I always go back to this wisdom of the poet Mary Oliver. In her poem, The Journey, she speaks to the constant call of voices around you who will say, “Mend my life!” (i.e. people that need you to do something for them). But, then she points out the soul work is to turn your gaze “to do the only thing you could do . . . to save the only life that you could save.”

Friend: at the end of the day, you are only in the driver's seat of your life. You can not fix anyone else's especially those who have no interest in healthy patterns of living.

So here's hoping that you have some time this week to listen to your body, your needs, and your longings so that you can offer YOU what YOU need. Absorb that! God is with you on this journey. God will show you what is yours to carry and what is not.