I’m pretty brave. Some would say stupid, actually. Sometimes I leave my brain behind and follow my heart where few dare to tread. And sometimes it turns out okay. Like the time I went to church disguised as a homeless person. Or started a nonreligious spiritual discussion group downtown with people of varying worldviews. Or jumped off a cliff. And just the other day I walked up to a total stranger and asked if I could use his backyard swimming pool as a church baptismal. My motto in life is, “I have nothing to lose.”
But what I did yesterday beat all. I had a lot to lose. I emailed a a friend and voiced a specific need.
After typing and deleting for over an hour, I finally clicked “send” and felt every ounce of pride and dignity leave my shaking, sobbing body. I even wondered if whatever faith I have in God’s ability to miraculously and sovereignly provide left me as well.
My friend responded in turn by admitting a specific need of her own. We agreed that those in the church need to do better at bearing each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
Now that I’ve shared mine, I feel a little lighter, though the lightness may also be due to feeling as if I’ve stripped myself of all my protective clothing. Sometimes it hurts to be real.
When Paul admonished the Galatians to share each other’s burdens, he said doing so would “fulfill the law of Christ.” Which we know to be love. As I sit here on the weird and shaky other-side of burden sharing, I don’t know if, practically speaking, it will have made any difference. But that was never the point.
The point is love. In being honest with my friend about my need, I showed her I love her enough to trust her with my burden. She will bear it carefully–not judging me for refusing to voice it sooner, not slathering it across the cyber sphere, and not offering stupid platitudes and then dumping my burden by the curb.
She in turned showed me love by thanking me for the privilege of sharing my heavy heart-load. This is love. This is the Gospel. This is the religion that doesn’t sit pretty in Sunday pews and keep problems carefully hidden beneath empty ritual.
Do you have a hard time being honest about your needs? Do you think the nature of some needs are more difficult to share than others? What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever told someone in regard to a need? What was the result, and how did it make you feel? Please share!