Take the worst week you’ve ever had. Stick it in the worst month of your life. That about sums up my experience from mid-August to mid-September. I’d tell you all the details, but it’s not my story to tell. I find it harder to watch the people I love suffer than to suffer myself, and there was a lot of suffering-watching during that time.
So you can imagine how unprepared both emotionally and spiritually I was for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas on September 17. I’d been emotionally wrung out and hung up, and I was still dripping with all the issues the previous month had thrown on my family. But I’d paid for the conference, I was to work with eight writers in critique sessions, and I had to go.
And you know what? By the time I arrived, I was happy to be there, my heart was mostly joyful, and I was filled with hope. I was even a little…dare I say it…proud of myself at how well I was handling everything.
And then during the worship the first morning, my dear friend placed her hand on my back and said, “I feel the Lord telling me to pray for you.” The music was so loud, I don’t even know if she was praying aloud or silently, but I could feel the Lord’s presence.
Another friend texted me a few minutes later to tell me she was missing me.
A third friend, who was sitting on my other side, told me after the worship about the specific and unique way she’d been praying for my loved one.
And I remembered how, the day before on our way to the conference, yet another friend told me how my loved one’s name was still on her prayer board, so she’d been praying for us often.
In fact that month, I received so many texts and emails from critique partners (thank you, Quids!), friends and extended family just to say, “Praying for you,” that I’ve lost count.
I’m not a very visual person, so when when I get an image in my heart, I know it’s from the Lord. The image was sharp that morning: I was floating high, and my friends were carrying me.
Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” My friends were bearing my burdens that day—that month—and because of their prayers, I was able to carry on.
That was enough to bring me to my knees. But the Lord had more.
I confess I was not looking forward to spending an entire day with new writers in critique sessions. Selfishly, I wanted to go to the classes instead. But the Lord whispered into my heart, Your friends’ prayers have enabled you to be at ACFW, and I have you here to minister to those eight writers. Today is about them.
And guess what? I had an amazing day with those new writers.
I’m still overwhelmed by the truths illustrated that day. That other people could and would carry my emotional burdens. That the Lord would use me—after all the terrible stuff my family had been going through—to minister to others. That I could both be a blessing to others and be blessed through obedience. And, almost more amazing than all of that, that my God loves me enough to show me all of that in the midst of my trials.
I’m feeling a bit like Paul right now, who after outlining the Gospel for eleven chapters in Romans exclaims in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Yup, I know how he felt, at least a little. I am overwhelmed by the love of my God.
Have you ever felt others carrying your burdens?
How are you doing at carrying others’ burdens?
Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.