“For each one shall bear his own load.” —Galatians 6:5
What a Bible verse! Please, Paul, isn’t there some way you can make this observation a little more nuanced or complex? So starkly stated, we have no legitimate way to obscure the nakedness of such a truth. Indeed, I laughed for some time the other day after reading this section in Galatians and your interface between serving others and facing life’s responsibilities squarely ourselves. I could hear in my mind the Cowardly Lion affirming reality against ourselves and our frequent need to obscure realities we don’t really want to face. Sometimes straight, plain, and simple language helps us swallow. Ain’t it the truth?
As we face the new year and ponder what may be coming towards us all in 2020 both personally and socially, how much truth or likelihood can we honestly and squarely face? Dare we make new or re-enforced resolutions in either realm? How much shutting down of our concerns for our nation, culture, and projected realities that our children or grandchildren will likely face in their futures must we push aside to stay focused on ourselves and our personal lives and goals? Selah.
I increasingly believe that learning how to wisely balance our personal lives and social cares and responsibilities will ever more become an essential skill set for our nation’s citizens, especially those in the faith-based community. To be truly healthy, neither side of this personal-social equation can dominate or eclipse the other. But this discussion is not about that balancing act.
So, let’s go back to St. Paul’s brutally honest reality that “each one shall bear his own load.” The major challenges are three-fold:
- What if I don’t want to face this reality of ultimate personal responsibility for my life?
- What if I somehow agree to attempt to manage my life but don’t feel I have any wise ability to do so?
- What if I am carrying my own load but life makes it too uncertain to do so wisely?
These three questions are indeed the most common. So, what are the best answers to these questions, especially now that it is a new year and we are urged to make new “resolutions” regarding our lives at this time? Answering any of these questions fully and adequately in a newsletter is absurd indeed, so let’s go for some sunny observations:
- There is no running from self, the reality of life and death, and the law of consequences; thoughts and actions produce results based upon them.
- In our human weakness, none of us want to grow up; we do so only when forced by God, others, or our circumstances.
- Life is full of a lot more trouble than available, wise teachers to shepherd us through them. If you have found wise, consistent help, you are unbelievably blessed and, likewise, now responsible to become that “wise person” to others who genuinely want truth from you!
- Life is full of “patterns”; recognizing them is a clear sign that “carrying your own burden” is actually beginning to work for you. When you learn how to use those patterns, you are once again blessed of God and responsible to pass them on.
- Knowing and acting on your limitations and tendencies puts you in a very limited group within humanity. Once again, thank God, and don’t let go of this gift.
Of course, the list could go on and on, but here is a bottom-line conclusion: A functioning Christian is one who is living in the reality that carrying the burdens of our life and the effect we are having on others without God daily having the steering wheel is an exercise in absurdity, continuous malfeasance, and a whole set of pain and escape mechanisms. With these Pauline-type observations, I sincerely wish you all a happy New Year and praise God that He is in the front seat of the car and us in the back! And that is…