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First thing that comes to mind about sharing a burden is, am I comfortable? Next thing I’m concerned about is who am I sharing it with and in what emotional shape is that person at the moment? So in other words we need a certain forum of peace to really go places with sharing a burden.

How to share a burden, my experience and service in jails.

I find in the jail arena especially, that this is particularly true; in other words we really have to be feeling calm, cool and collected as we go into these places. We have to “not take on” anybody else’s stuff; and that starts with the guards and the people who get us into the various parts of the jails. We have to be able to take with a grain of salt, anything that’s thrown at us if we want to be of any value by the time we get to sit down with the actual inmates. And I think after many years of meeting with people in jails, that I’m pretty good at it but that’s not because I’m special; it’s because I made the decision to “not take anything seriously” that is aimed at me between the time I get out of my car and the time that I’m actually sitting down with an inmate or with a whole bunch of inmates.

You see, my value to them resides in the fact that I’m calm, cool, collected and gentle when I’m listening or when I’m sharing my stories as well. We as the volunteer facilitators must lead these people and draw them into the inner intimacy of the discussion.

Now we need to remember that the people in jail generally have made some poor decisions on the way through and when it’s an actual guilty situation (often not so) they’re paying the price for whatever it is they were convicted of doing. So you can see friends, everything really has to do with “Who We Are When we arrive in the meeting setting”. Our inside condition will some how relate to theirs as they calm down. I think this is because the Vibes are good and Spiritual!

Now to motivate sharing I believe I’ve got to tell something that is possibly hurtful to me but more importantly, something that will tenderize hardened people and give me a chance to become intimate with them while I’m in jail with them. I do this by sharing the tragic loss of my son Sean to an overdose of Fentanyl some 6 years ago.

How to share a burden - image of Scott and Sean

They understand immediately if they have children, whether they have access to them or not. whether they’ve lost them or whether they’re being looked after by someone else or whether they’re waiting for them to get out of jail. Almost all people appreciate a loss of that sort.

My sense is that they feel I’m there to create some good as opposed to anything else and that means they will give me an ear and more than likely, they will want to share some of their pain with me! That my friends leads into a discussion that can only be positive. Then we are on similar ground! We are in the moment and we’re all in one sharing meeting and there to share. My friends, the lifting of weight from the shoulders of the burden Bearer, in my opinion is actually visible; I swear before God that we see people changing in an hour every time we bring Sharing The Burden into to a jail.

That’s the best and the most I can tell you about how to get people to share their burdens, and Friends, if we can do it in jails you can do it in your everyday life and it will make a difference in your life and all the lives participating!

God bless and please make your way to a Sharing The Burden meeting and tell us if you would like to join the team of jail volunteers who literally are the channels for God’s Direction in the lives of these inmates and you can see for yourself the visible changes that I’m speaking about!

– Scott Duncan

Related Podcast: Please listen to Pauline Lifted in Jail Service.

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