Susan Badeau

There are only two lasting gifts we can give our children - one is roots, the other is wings


A Yoke, A Suitcase & Wd-40

Posted by Sue Badeau on May 16, 2013 at 3:40 PM

What do a yoke, a 4-wheeled suitcase and a can of WD-40 have to do with providing rest for parents of children who have experienced trauma?

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

The burdens are often heavy and rest is often hard to come by for parents and caregivers of children who have experienced trauma. Over the years in my own journey, this passage has been quoted to me many times when I felt exhausted from the weight of it all. I know it was meant to comfort, but it didn’t always have that effect.

Frankly, I railed at the idea of taking up any yoke.

The word evokes images of beasts-of-burden, downtrodden, with scars from whips and chains. Who wants that? The best spin I ever heard about the yoke was that it provided a way for burdens to be shared – the traditional yoke for oxen made it possible for two or more of them to share the heaviest of loads. And so, by taking on the yoke of faith, we learn, our burden will become lighter and we will find rest as we share the burden first with God, second with our life partner through marriage, and third through the fellowship of church and community.

Still, it rankled me, and rest continued to remain elusive.

Then, this week, my trusty pink suitcase (you’ve read about it before – here and Part II once again became the vehicle for an important life-lesson.

Years ago, when I first started to travel for work, my “suitcase” was a large, awkward-to-carry garment bag, with no wheels. My shoulders and back ached constantly, and moving about was always a struggle.

Eventually, I got a suitcase with 2-wheels. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I could carry twice as much with far less difficulty and stress. My work-related burdens were lightened.

Over time, however, even travel with this suitcase started to wear me out. One shoulder in particular, and my lower back, were frequently “out-of-alignment.” That's when I discovered 4-wheeled suitcases. A 4-wheeled suitcase glides through the airport – virtually no pushing or pulling required. Its like a miracle – the burden not only gets lighter, it practically evaporates! I needed one of these!

Enter the pink suitcase. When “4-wheeled suitcase” was the only item on my Christmas list, some of my kids bought me one. The suitcase is a dream. It cruises along beside me, and I arrive at my destination with nary a pain in shoulder or back.

At least it did.

Until last week.

The wheels were starting to stick. They caught and dragged. By the time I walked from one gate to the next, my shoulder was sore and my neck was stiff.

I came home and asked my husband to take a look. He – and a can of WD-40 – solved the problem. The wheels needed to be greased. Now the suitcase is good-as-new and my travel burden is once again easy and light.

Which brings me back to the yokes, and caring for children who have experienced trauma.

A yoke, back-in-the-day, was the state-of-the-art technology. It was a tool and a resource for making it both possible and manageable to cope with heavy and challenging burdens.

Today, a 4-wheeled suitcase is a similar technology. A resource. A tool. When properly used and cared for, it makes it both possible and manageable to cope with heavy and challenging burdens.

When I think about the yoke as technology, resource and tool, it gives me a whole different perspective on its value. And it leads me to 3 important lessons for parents and caregivers:

1. Get the best yoke available – don’t struggle with an old-fashioned garment bag when you really need a 4-wheeled suitcase. Use the technology, resources and tools at your disposal to gain the support necessary to cope with and manage the heavy and challenging burdens in your life.

2. Maintenance is key – Just as my suitcase needed a little oil for the wheels, our faith, and our support systems need to be maintained and cared for if they are going to work right when we need them most. Don’t wait until you are in a crisis to “grease the wheels” that strengthen you for the journey. Keep them well-oiled all the time and your burdens will never overwhelm you.

3. Share the load - Yes, the interpretation of the yoke as a tool for sharing a burden may be an “oldie” but it is still a “goodie.” When raising children with special needs, or those whose lives have been impacted by trauma, don’t go it alone. Share the load – through your faith, your family and your community. As happy as I am with my 4-wheeled suitcase, I am even happier when someone offers to hoist it up into the overhead compartment for me, or in some other way, to share the burden.

I’m ready for that yoke now, and I’m not bristling.

Categories: Hope for the Journey - Devotional Reflections

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