Children often feel emotions that don’t “belong” to them. This is called burden bearing, and you can bet it’s happening all around the world right now! The emotions of cities and nations are all over the place, and at one level or another, our kids can feel those emotions.
Especially when they have the gift of burden bearing, our kids can sense the burdens or weights other people are carrying: fear, anxiety, shame, loneliness, etc.
Every believer is meant to be a burden bearer. It’s part of Christianity as a whole and something we do for each other (Gal. 6:2). Some of us are more gifted in it than others, just as some of us hear God’s voice in ways others do not. Even when we aren’t “called” as prophets, we can still hear His voice, and burden bearing works the same way.
The issue is, a child may or may not know how to handle what they’re feeling. The emotion can seem like theirs, so they start to assume, “I’m angry. I’m lonely. I want someone to comfort me. I need help. I’m afraid.”
I definitely have kids who are burden bearers, and I have to help them sort out what they’re feeling versus what other people are feeling. They are learning to ask questions instead of making assumptions.
“Is the sadness mine? Is the anger mine? Is the frustration mine?” Once they realize it isn’t theirs, they can release it in a healthy manner.
Here are a few easy things you can do with your burden-bearing kids to help them use this beautiful gift from God.Help Your Kids Name What They’re Feeling
When a child is able to name what they’re feeling, this helps them understand what’s going on inside them. Teach your child to pause long enough to figure out the name of the emotion.
“What am I feeling? I think I’m feeling sadness.” They can also ask the Holy Spirit, “What word is this? How would You describe this emotion?”
Putting a name to a feeling is powerful, because then the child isn’t praying out of an emotional pit they don’t understand. They can categorize what they’re feeling and have a better idea of how to move forward.
“Jesus, I feel sadness right now. It’s deep sadness. Would You show me how to pray?”Teach Your Kids to Give the Burden to Jesus
We don’t ever have to bear our emotions alone. I am teaching my kids to picture themselves holding the sadness (for example) in their hands. They take it to the cross and physically lay it down there.
“Jesus, please take this sadness,” they pray.
Next I encourage them to imagine themselves walking to the other side of the cross and leaving the sadness behind. The cross then stands between them and whatever they’re burden bearing.
You could teach your kids to pray a prayer like this: “I place the cross between me and this burden of sadness [or whatever emotion it is]. In the name of Jesus, I set it down and place the cross there, and I ask, God, that You would surround me.”Pray for the Person Who Is Struggling
When the emotion belongs to someone else, teach your kids to pray for that person.
They could pray something like this: “I place the cross between Joe and the sadness he’s feeling. God, please cover him behind and before, to his right and to his left, above and below, with the cross and the blood of Jesus.”Give the Emotion Back
Burden bearing should be temporary. Your kids don’t have to carry long term an emotion that doesn’t belong to them.
To help them let go of the emotion, teach them to pray this way: “I send back to Joe what is Joe’s, and I send back to You, God, what is Yours. I also call back to me what is mine. I ask that You would break any ties that are unhealthy and that You would wash anything off of me that needs to be washed off as I lay this emotion at Your feet. I trust You with my brother Joe.”
A Gift and Calling
Burden bearing is embedded in the DNA of our kids—it’s part of their gifting and calling from God. One way or another, it will operate in their lives, so let’s teach them to tap into this gift and use it the way He intended.