“I don’t want to bother you with my issues.”
Ever said that?
I mean, who wants to share their troubles with the people around them? Do you really want to hear about my health issues, or my financial difficulty, or my stress at work? I am sure you have enough problems of your own. You don’t need me dragging you further into the gutter.
Haven’t you said these things inside your head? Or even out loud?
Surely we’ve been taught from our childhood, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” We are supposed to smile, say nice things, and put the best construction on everything. Right?
Yes, and…then there’s the Bible.
Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Here’s the thing, I don’t mind carrying your burdens, but I really don’t want you carrying mine. Right? I mean we all want to rush to the rescue when a friend is in the hospital, or lost a parent, or needs help moving, but we really don’t want to invite anyone in to help us when the basement floods, or our kids are sick, or (gasp) we can’t do everything that we used to be able to do.
But Paul, in Galatians, says, to bear one another’s burdens. That implies reciprocity.
I think I have established through this blog that I have most of my life been pretty self-sufficient. I can do it myself, thank you very much. I don’t need anyone’s help. I kick butts and take names and God help you if you get in my way. Notice I said ‘most’ of my life. For the past couple of years I have been learning a new way.
Last May, at the very end of our school year, as a result of medications I had been taking, I contracted ocular herpes. Yes, herpes. In my eyes. (My teenaged daughter who drove me to the eye doctor got a kick out of that.) Let me just say here that it is miserable. Other than the itching, burning, and aching of my eyes, they were extremely sensitive to light, so I could not drive for a few days. During that time, we were having end of year faculty meetings and a faculty luncheon at a restaurant a bit of a distance from the school and from my house. My daughter dropped me off at school in the morning, but I needed a ride to the restaurant and then from the restaurant to my eye doctor and from the eye doctor to my house, which happened to be in the opposite direction of anyone I worked with.
So, self-sufficient me decided to ask my friend, who lives with severe rheumatoid arthritis, if I could ride with her to the luncheon and then if she would drop me at my eye doctor which was not terribly far out of her way. She said that would be fine. I then figured out how I could take public transportation from the eye doctor to my house. I had done this before, it was no big deal, and it allowed me to be self-sufficient.
But, after the luncheon, my friend took me to the eye doctor and insisted on staying with me and driving me home afterward. I didn’t want to burden her. By that time in the day, I knew that we both needed some rest and this would add an hour or more to her day, and to her driving. But she said to me, “this is something I can do.” And although it was admitting that I couldn’t do everything by myself, I knew at that moment that I was allowing her into my need.
After the decision to ‘allow her’ to help me, I was so thankful that she was there. She sat and had coffee with me before my appointment time, and even helped me select the glasses that I now wear. She drove me to my front door and then headed home.
It was a small thing, driving me home, wasn’t it? Not really. It was a big thing for me. It was a symbol. It was my admission that I need others, and in that need, I am blessed. And, you know, I think she was blessed, too.
I know that I am blessed when others allow me into their mess, allow me to walk with them for a minute or a mile, allow me to shoulder part of the burden. Why would I deprive someone else of joining me in mine? Mostly because I’m a proud butt-kickin’, name-takin’ soldier. Or, I was. Anybody can change.
Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.