Bearing One Another's Burdens by Lightening the Load

I know, we usually don't tell everyone all of the burdens that we are carrying at any given moment for obvious reasons, right? Typically, when someone comes up and says, “Hey, how are you doing Monica?” 98% of the time I'm going to say “I'm doing great” because that's just my response. That doesn't mean that I'm not doing great, but typically, I'm not going to unload whatever burden I'm currently carrying onto just anyone, and I'm sure you're the same way.
We pick and choose and are careful with who we share our burdens with. I'm not going to get into who we're supposed to share our burdens with and who we're not, I couldn't do that even if I tried. That is such a personal decision. It has a lot to do with how we trust one another and the people that we feel safe to share things with.
When I think about burdens, I like to relate them to a physical burden. For instance, if we thought about the weight of carrying on our backs, a backpack full of rocks. Depending on how many rocks we have in our backpack, and how big and heavy those rocks are, that determines how heavy our burden is.
As you can guess, if we started sharing our burdens, taking one rock at a time out of our backpack and letting some other people carry a few of those rocks, it would lighten our burden. Then you're thinking, “yeah, but it would also give other people a burden that maybe wasn't theirs to bear.” So now I'm taking my burden and dumping it on someone.
When you start to think those thoughts, stop and think, who wants to try to get us to think like that? Who wants you to feel alone in your burdens?
I want you to think about your own children or someone that you love, someone that you care about. What would it feel like? What would you feel like if 10 years down the road you found out that your child or the person that you love so dearly had been carrying a secret, a painful burden, and they had been carrying it for 10 years and you didn't know about it? How during those 10 years you had just treated that person like you always do and interacted with that person like normal. If you found out that there had been this burden thatyou had no idea about. Would that make you sad?
Would you regret that you hadn't known? Would you wish that you could have known, because you would have liked to have helped if you could? Even if you couldn't solve the burden or fix the problem, wouldn’t you have liked to at least known about it. So that you could have prayed for that person. So that you could have been a shoulder to cry on for that person. So that you could have allowed yourself to be a listening ear for that person. Wouldn’t you feel better if you could have done something, something to have comforted your loved one.
It's easy for us to want to help those we love carry their burdens, but it's so hard for us to allow other people to help us carry our burdens.

I understand we don't want to be a burden to people, but we've got to remember that one of he greatest joys we each individually will feel in our life is the joy that comes with knowing that we were able to play a small role in helping someone. It's a great joy to know that our life has purpose and meaning. To me, one of the best ways for me to feel like my life has meaning is when I'm able to experience helping someone else.
So, If we know that that is a way that we experience joy and we experience growth, then we've got to allow other people to serve us in that same way. I would like to invite you to, if you're carrying a burden, and I know that you are at this moment, that you have not shared with anyone, I would invite you to spend a little time in prayer and ask the Lord to help you to know who the right person is for you to share your burden with. I know that it will be a blessing to you when you have someone to help you carry the rocks that are on your back.

This topic of bearing one another’s burdens, actually comes from a chapter in our book, “Raising a Generation of Ladies and Gentlemen” which was inspired from scripture.

Bearing One Another's Burdens by Listening Without Judgement

This topic of, bearing one another’s burdens, actually comes from a chapter in our book, “Raising a Generation of Ladies and Gentlemen.” This also comes from scripture. The idea is that we have a responsibility to one another to help carry one another's burdens. 

We all have our favorite people that we like to talk to and one of those people for me was my grandmother. She was an incredible listener. I’m not quite sure how she did it, I've tried to think about it. Was it the way she looked at me? Was it the way that she tilted her head whenever I was telling her something? Was it because she never really offered me advice? She really didn't. I can't remember my grandma after confining in her a problem I was having ever saying, “Well, Monica, I think you need to do this.” Nevertheless, after I would talk to her about my problems, I felt better. Also, a lot of times as I discussed things with her, at the end of the conversation I would have some ideas about things I might could do to help fix the problem. As I've thought about that over the years, I think her gift was just listening.

I never felt like she was judging me because as you can imagine as a teenager, I made a lot of crazy mistakes and I'm sure as I sat there telling her my dilemmas that deep down she was going, “Oh dear gracious child, how could you be so dumb?” But boy, she never made me feel that way. She just listened. I just knew she loved me and that she just wanted to show her love to me, and so she listened. I know that one of the greatest gifts we can give to others carrying burdens is to listen.

Now, that’s easier said than done, to listen without judgment is hard. It’s hard not to get animated or emotional when we see people we love making foolish decisions. However, typically, I haven't changed my behavior based on someone telling me, “Monica, that was so foolish. You should have done this, or you need to do this.” Usually, that's not what made me go, “Hey, you're right. I should do it this way.” Usually we come to our own determination after making mistakes, learning the hard way. Sometimes even listening to others experiences, and what they've learned, is a great way to grow, but usually we have to be ready to change our behavior.

Learning how to listen without judging others, learning how to listen without quickly jumping into wanting to give people advice is a great gift and a way that we can help carry other people's burdens. Probably if my children, hard me telling you all that we need to listen without giving advice, they would laugh at that because I give my children lots of advice. I am trying so hard not to give my adult children advice. It's a struggle that I am trying every week to get better about that. I know that my children and those that I love, respond to me the best when I listen without jumping to advice.

Often when we are in trouble, we typically don't want or need other people to solve our problems. However, like you’ve probably have heard me say before, it feels really good when people say things like, “Monica, I am so sorry that you're going through that. That makes me so sad that your family is struggling or that you're having to carry this burden.” It feels good just to know that people care. That is another way we can carry and bear one another's burdens, just showing that when they're sad, we're sad, and when they suffer, we suffer, because that's what we do when we love one another.

I heard a quote very recently and it said “When you meet someone, treat them as if they were in serious trouble and you will be right more than half the time.” I thought that was such an interesting quote and I bet you that that quote is correct.

Anytime we're interacting with anyone, whether it's people that we know or people that we don't know, more than likely we're surrounded by several people who are in serious trouble. Maybe serious trouble with their marriage, serious trouble with their faith, serious trouble with their child, serious trouble at work or with a serious illness or a serious emotional need. 

If we could see those burdens, would we act differently? If only there was a bubble above everyone's head that listed the burdens that they were currently carrying. For example, if we could see that when we're waiting in the post office line, this lady in front of us was diagnosed with cancer three weeks ago, her mother is in failing health, she has a wayward son, et cetera, et cetera. If we had those bubbles above our head, do you think we would treat each other a little differently? Do you think we would be a little kinder? Do you think we would be more quick to smile and say “Hello, how are you?” Do you think it would change the way we treat one another? 

Just because we can't see those bubbles doesn’t mean those burdens aren’t there. They are there.

I'm a visual person, and so for me it helps me to imagine those bubbles when I interact with people, it helps me to think, “I wonder what their bubble would say.” That doesn't mean I need to know what their bubble would say, but I bet you they’ve got a bubble and I bet you there's some things written in it.

So as we interact with others, if we treat others as if they're in trouble, we probably would be right. Not just half of the time, but most of the time.

Get to Know Me and How The Etiquette Factory Began

Hello, and welcome, my name is Monica Irvine and I am the president of The Etiquette Factory. My goal is to help you be the best parents that you can be and to encourage you and lift you up. I hope to learn from you. I hope that you leave lots of comments and lots of suggestions, and I look forward to the wisdom and insight that you can give me as well.

I want to tell you a little bit about myself, for those of you who don't know me, I'm getting older. I'm 50 years old, and you would think with good etiquette, we don't tell our age to one another, but you might as well know. I am a mom and a wife and a grandmother and life is good. I'm married to a man named, Charles Irvine, and we are coming up on our 27th anniversary this August. Of course, 27 years, that's a big deal. It's a big deal that we've been walking hand in hand through this marriage journey. We don't have a perfect marriage, but it is a perfect marriage for me. Charles is my biggest fan. I often thank the Lord for giving me this man who supports me, loves me, encourages me, and cheers for me, and really is my greatest supporter. That is just such a blessing and I always am and will forever be so grateful for that. I also love that after 26 years, we're still in love. Well, at least I'm still in love with him, let's hope that he's still in love with me. I’m just looking forward to 25 more years. We have fun together. One thing about Charles and I is we enjoy just being together, we laugh a lot, and we just like the same kinds of things. We have a lot in common and he's someone that I love to spend time with and that's a great blessing.

I'm also a mom, we've got three boys in our family. When I married Charles, he had these two adorable little boys named, Chad and Tanner. So they've been in my life for a long time and we also have a son between us named Sawyer. Our boys are 33, 30, and 23. So, they're all out of the house and living their own lives and doing lots of really wonderful things and we're so proud of each of them. They bring us a lot of joy. 

Also, I am blessed with two beautiful granddaughters! I finally have someone to play tea party with and someone to share my dolls, barbies and girl stuff with. Things that I kept my whole life. So I'm just really enjoying being a grandmother and having a little girls to play with, and to be "girly" with.

Now I want to tell you a little bit about The Etiquette Factory. The Etiquette Factory is kind of my baby. It's my other child. It's a big part of my life. It's my passion and it's what has allowed me to mentor and come into contact with the thousands of parents that I have met over the past years. I want to tell you a little bit about how I started with the etiquette factory so that you get to know my thought process and what I'm passionate about. 

My youngest, Sawyer went through the fourth grade in public school and then I took him out, and started homeschooling him in fifth grade. Now, I want you to know that I never intended to home school. In fact, even when Sawyer started kindergarten, I remember this thought of homeschooling kept coming to my mind. Every time it would come up, I would just as quickly as possible get it out of my mind because I did not want to do that. I thought that was crazy, and only crazy people did that. I wanted no part of that. Plus, it wasn't just that I thought that I was not capable of homeschooling my child, but I thought I would ruin his life if I tried to home school him, and that's a whole other story. The point of this story is I was homeschooling him, and that's how The Etiquette Factory started.

When Sawyer was in fifth grade, we started studying about George Washington. In the process of learning about our first president, we came across George Washington's rules of civility and decent behavior. If you have never read those little rules, I highly encourage you to Google them and read them. Basically, when George Washington was around 13 years old, he was being mentored by a minister at the time, and that minister encouraged him to brush up on his chivalry skills. There's 110 chivalry rules that, the history books say, George Washington recorded out of a French book on etiquette. As far as I can see in the research I've done, it looks like we don't know exactly who the original author is of those 110 chivalry skills was, but what we do know is that we found that list in President Washington's handwriting. So we do know that at some point, he did actually write out all of those 110 chivalry skills. They are beautiful. They're written in old English, so yes, you have to get the dictionary out for a few of them, and there's some funny ones. 

For example, one of my favorites, and I'm summarizing here, is, "It's not polite to remove lice from your companion in public,." Which I thought was very good advice. Most of the skills are timeless. And as I was reading these skills, something just really moved inside me. I thought they were so beautiful and I thought, wow, what would it mean for our society to live these skills still today?

As I read those skills, I saw that we don't live many of them anymore. I guess, we've gotten a little lazy when it comes to chivalry. Maybe we just don't think they're as important anymore and so we have let our guard down and maybe we’ve become more casual with the way that we interact with one another. 

Of course, what I was most interested in was teaching Sawyer to have impeccable manners. I already knew that people who have impeccable manners have more opportunities before them. Today, whenever you do meet someone with really good manners, whether it's a young person or even an adult, you're kind of taken aback. It's like, "Whoa, what planet did you just come from?" You're intrigued with it and impressed with it. So I really wanted to give Sawyer those things and I saw that he was missing some skills.

You know how sometimes you'll watch your kids do something, and you'll ask yourself, “Okay, have I really not taught them to do that? I cannot believe they just thought that was okay to do.” I was having some of those moments, maybe more often than I wanted. I just saw that we had some lapses and we needed to brush up on these skills. So, as a home school mom, I wanted to find a curriculum that taught my son manners. Manners for the 21st century, I guess is what I was looking for. As I started looking for something that taught manners in a very organized approach, I could not find anything. However, I did find in my investigation that I could go through etiquette training and become a certified etiquette instructor.

There were a couple of different schools around the nation and they're more industry driven. So, I thought, well, if I learned myself then surely that would help me teach Sawyer some more etiquette skills. So that's exactly what I did. But the more I learned, the more excited I became about teaching this to not only my children but to other children. And so that's exactly what I did. The first thing I did after a year and a half of training is, I started running Manners camps for kids. Really, the truth is the first summer when I scheduled all of these manners camps, I didn't know if anyone would pay me $1 to send their kids to manners camp. However, I knew I would pay someone a lot of money to teach my son manners.

So I thought, “maybe there's more than just me.” And what was so interesting is after about two months of marketing, five of my six camps had a waiting list. That's when I knew I was not the only person searching for help. That launched The Etiquette Factory, and the rest is history. It's just been the most rewarding journey. Sometimes I sit back and I look at all of the products that we've developed and I can’t believe it. 

We've got educators in eight countries and 14 States that run The Etiquette Factory in their city or in their country. Some of them are just doing amazing things. I remember the first time I was emailed this little video and an image of these children in Nigeria who were singing The Etiquette Factory songs.

I was so moved, I was brought to tears thinking that this is worldwide, these skills are being taught around the world. These are so universal, even though, yes, there's some cultural differences, but most of these skills are universal. 

I wanted to quickly close by giving you my definition of etiquette because this is so important. The definition that we use at The Etiquette Factory is, etiquette, or manners is helping those around us to feel valued and to feel comfortable. It's an outward expression of how we feel on the inside. That's what I would like to share with the world and what I would like to help you share with your children.