"When someone is down, offer to carry their mat" by: Betsy Monico

   Thankfully, Saturday morning I knew what direction to take this week with my column. 
   Before I crawled out of bed, I exchanged texts with a fellow football momma. 
   Her son was injured Friday; and sadly this injury will most likely keep him out for the rest of the year. 
   Luckily, he is in 11th grade and will play again. Supporting his team from the sidelines though will seem like eternity. 
   His mom claimed that others would have to “carry the mat” for him until the Lord fully heals him.  
   Tears fell down my face when I read her words. 
   I love that our football program yearly adopts a motto and verse. “Keep it simple” will never lose its pizazz. This year, the theme is “carry the mat.” 
   It comes from Luke 5:18-20 and says “Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 
   When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up onto the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd right in front of Jesus.” 
   Now I get “carry the mat.” Other football families have seen signs of this “mat” phenomenon I bet. 
   The Word never hits us all the same or means the same thing, but for Believers-it is real. The Word is personal and meets us individually to offer help with whatever situation we are in.
Carry the mat is about friendship. My car is under the weather. Twice last week I asked a friend/co-worker to give me a ride. 
   She did not mind, and in a way, carried my mat.  
   When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2007, a fellow teacher completed my gifted and talented testing. 
   She carried my mat.  
   A few years later when I found my home in the library, my co-worker’s mother became ill. I joyfully carried her mat and managed to keep the doors open for check out and classes. 
   She needed to spend every second possible with her mother.  
   Was I glad when she returned? Absolutely!  
   Was I glad that I could somewhat carry her mat? Absolutely! 
   There is one common denominator in this “mat” thing. We must connect with other people in order for it to happen. 
   We cannot carry a friend’s mat if we live isolated, friendless. We must do life with others in order to cart their burdens, their mats. 
   The pendulum in America seems to be leaning towards negativity and hatred. The friction often makes me feel like I should just keep to myself and disconnect to stay safe and secure. 
   However, because of my personality and the Holy Spirit living in me, I cannot.  
   Relationships and people must be priority.  
   If not, how can we ever carry the mat or have our mats carried? 
   The particular, injured football player mentioned plays on the offensive line with my son. 
   The night my son’s defensive jersey was stripped off and replaced with 77, this young man and the Coach Bachtel gave him a quick tutorial on what to do. 
   I captured it on camera. Google taught me that offensive lineman who cannot receive a forward pass must wear a number between 50 and 79, thus the 77. 
   With this precious guy down for now, someone will have to carry his mat. It suddenly all made sense. 
   Whether it be on the field, the office, at home, or at the grocery store, carry someone’s mat this week. 
   If you are down, in need, allow someone to carry your mat.

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