When Your Arms Are Too Tired
In the book of Exodus from the Hebrew Scriptures, there is a strange story in chapter 17---the story of a battle between the Hebrew people and a tribal group known as the Amalekites.
While Joshua is leading the troops into battle, Moses goes up on top of a hill to watch it all ensue. He then notices something strange as he stands there that makes for a very interesting story.
Moses realizes that if he keeps his arms raised and outstretched over the Hebrew warriors, they prevail in the battle. But when his arms become tired, and he lets them fall to his side, the Hebrews begin to lose.
Finally, Moses' brother Aaron and his brother-in-law Hur come to his aid. They find a rock for him to sit on, and they help hold his arms up. The Hebrews go on to decisively win the battle and rout the Amalekites something fierce.
I did some reading about this, and one of the Jewish commentators I found said something to this effect:
At first, the Jewish fighters would look up to the hill and see Moses up there holding his arms out, blessing them, and they would fight harder.
But then the commentator stated that when the warriors looked up and saw Moses being helped because he had grown weary, they fought even harder than before because they realized they weren't alone and they were really fighting for one another.
This story has been on my mind today for some reason. I can only think that other than myself, there has to be a bunch of you out there who need to hear this...
Maybe you've been trying to hold up your arms for a while now so that the people in your life you feel responsible for can believe in you. Maybe you feel like you can't keep your arms up any longer, but you don't want to let them down.
Maybe you have felt the burden of feeling like you are carrying so many other people's expectations, hopes, and dreams. Maybe you have had the responsibility for others thrust upon you because of circumstances, stage of life, a promotion... you name it.
You're tired, and you imagine that if you give in to the weariness you will let everyone down---that they will fail because of you. You might be sitting there right now overwhelmed because you don't feel like you have anything left---that your arms are falling...
Here's some advice from Fr. Richard Rohr for you if that is what you are experiencing right now--advice that many of us need to hear so desperately right now... You need to get to a place where:
"You stop holding yourself up so you can be held…"
There comes a time when you have to face facts about yourself. You are not the be-all and end-all. You might really, really good, but you have limits. The fact of the matter is, you know this deep down inside, even if you won't admit it to yourself or anyone else.
You need to know this, though... You are also not alone as long as you know how to ask for help... or receive it when it's offered. And there's no shame in being vulnerable---let me explain.
Moses needed some help holding his arms up, and he got it. And in a strange turn of events, the Hebrew warriors seem to take more comfort and courage from that humble act than anything he'd done before.
Consider this... it could be that the person or people who you believe to be relying on you for inspiration or support actually need to know that it's okay for them to ask for help, too.
Maybe they've been watching you do it all on your own, and they think that's the only way to do it. They might even believe that you'll think less of them, or that they'll somehow let you down if they ask for help.
You could change that right now, by finding your own Aaron and Hur to lift you up. It might be the very thing that could turn the tide for you and everyone in your life.
Stop holding yourself up... let yourself be held.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.