It’s easy to feel doubly burdensome when someone you love is ill or going through a tough time. You don’t want to add to their struggles… and yet somehow you accidentally end up doing so!
Are you a burden?
Sorry, but you are a burden
A burden is something troublesome. Something hard to get rid of. We can be burdened by duty, worry, conflict or disease.
But more often than not, our real burdens are people.
All relationships are burdensome. All attachments hurt. Friendship is ecstasy and agony.
When we love someone we worry about them. We weep when they weep, we laugh when they love. It is people – family, neighbours, friends, spouses – which hamper our futures and make our decisions doubly difficult.
They are the ones we hurt when we make mistakes or lose our tempers or get frustrated.
It’s not just an emotional burden. Often our parents, spouses, siblings and friends provide for us physically as well. We make their lives more complicated.
Our loved ones are a burden to us – and (harder to admit) we are a burden to them.
Do you have a burden you would choose to keep?
But I don’t want to be a burden!
If my loved one is going through tough time, I don’t want them to weep with me, worry about me, or even help me.
It just doesn’t seem fair to let them to wince at my mistakes when they are struggling with chronic illness.
They have enough troubles of their own – and when they care about mine, it makes me feel like a burden.
It’s even worse when they have to (or choose to) care for us in physical ways which cut into their energy and deplete their strength.
They give. They sacrifice. They love.
And we feel guilty and awful, so we get angry. We push them away out of a desire to protect them. They have enough pain of their own, without sharing in ours as well.
Surely they would be better off if we were gone, we think.
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Why we must choose to burden them
Without us, our loved one’s life would be physically and emotionally ‘easier’ – but would it be better?
What is more desirable? What would make our sick friend truly happy? A simple life, free from the effort and strain of attachments, or a messy one of friendships and loves?
I think, deep down, we know the truth.
But we don’t like it.
A life free from messy relationships is not necessarily a good life… Tweet!
The sort of burden that is okay
Of course, if we are burdening our sick father with incessant demands that he paint the ceiling of our house that is not alright.
Here I am talking about the natural burden of relationships.
The idea is not a new one.
God describes loving others as bearing ‘one another’s burdens.’ When he talks of a relationship with Him, he doesn’t (interestingly enough) say it will be burden-free, but rather a ‘light burden’ and an ‘easy yoke’ (Mathew 11: 29-30).
This side of heaven every relationship is going to be difficult. We have to work at them. We will often (either accidentally or on purpose) impact negatively on the lives of others. We will stress the people we love and we will disappoint them.
But that’s no reason to give up! We were created for relationships and placed in each one for a reason and a purpose. God is strategic and we can know there is a blessing tied up with each burden (sometimes it’s just a bit hard to find).
Will we accept the burden of being a burden?
In order to selflessly love someone we must be willing to receive love as well as give it. This means humbling ourselves enough to accept a struggling friend’s gift of love, even though it may complicate their already complicated lives.
We must learn to receive, not only when we cannot give, but when we can.
Simply because that is what love is. If we look at the Trinity, we see this is part not only of human love, but divine love too! Between God, Jesus and the Spirit, God both offers and accepts love – one action is not greater than the other.
Do we, as healthy people, have the vulnerability and humility to admit we are a burden to our sick family and friends?
In choosing to be a burden we choose to love.
The benefits of being a burden
The truth is, our sick friend or family members is a burden to us, yet we choose to love them anyway. Do we dare deprive them of the same freedom?
Can we truly argue that we are allowed to serve them but they are not allowed to serve us? That they are allowed to ask for help, but we are not?
In order to love properly we must cast away our pride.
It can be uncomfortable being a burden. It is definitely easier to always be the hero. To give and not receive. But if being a burden allows my sick family members to mirror God’s love my pride must not stand in the way.
Loving is just as important as being loved.
And so I choose to be a burden. Do you?
//Have you ever felt like a burden? Is there anything specific that made you feel this way? Has this post helped, or not really?
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