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Heavy Hearts

“You are held. Your nervous system can unclench, just for a minute. You can allow yourself to go off high alert—I’ll take this shift.”

~ Shauna Niequist

“I’ll take this shift.” Those are powerful and life-changing words. Speaking them over a heart fraught with worry brings comfort and relief. And boy do we need some comfort and relief right now. I look around me and see struggle everywhere I turn. Broken hearts, broken families, and broken bodies, all aching with pain. As I read these soothing words meant for a troubled heart, whether it belongs to someone else or even ourselves, the reminder of how overwhelmed our world is rushes to the front of my mind and center of my soul.

There have been many times in the past few weeks that it has felt hard to breathe. I am surrounded by so many that need help, need love, need a hand to hold them up, and the desire of my heart is to be there for every one of them. For my husband, for my children, for my siblings, for all my moms and dads, for my friend that is exhausted and my friend that is sick and my friend that is grieving—I just want to chase them down and hug them and tell them “It is okay, I will take this shift.” Sometimes feeling what others feel is a gift that is also a heavy weight. I want to cry with them as they grieve and offer them a place to rest in their struggle, but I am confined by these hours of the day and these waning levels of energy—and these limits make me sad.

But that is what happens when I believe that I am supposed to change the world all by myself. I feel the guilt of not being there personally for each and every one. I feel the shame of my absence and attending to the weight of my own battles suddenly appears selfish. I feel the breath pulled from me in sorrow as I convince myself I am not enough to handle all of their needs.

But the truth is, I am not enough.

He is.

I was never meant to try to solve it all. I can only help one at a time and sometimes that struggling one is me. But I am not without options. When I listen before I do, when I bow my head before I move my feet, I can hear Him tell me, “You can allow yourself to go off high alert—I’ll take this shift” as He brings a power and strength to my prayers that I could not gather alone.

This is the only way this heart can help another. One at a time. Just as He leads me to it, He will lead them through it, whether I am rushing to their rescue or not. For today, I take Shauna’s words to heart and take a breath as I come up for air to strengthen myself for the next battle. I take the hand He holds out for me so that I can hold one out for someone else. Today I will not be enough for everyone, but I will be enough for someone. One shift at a time.


Shannon Leach is a slice-of-life encouragement writer and the owner of A Repurposed Heart and ARH Inspirations. Her authentic stories and books about leadership, life, and loving people focus on encouraging others and reminding them they are not alone. Her work can also be found in Guideposts and multiple Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is the co-founder of the nonprofit The Fostered Gift.

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.comThe “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

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