Things have been busy in my life lately. I try really hard not to complain because complaining gives voice and power to those things that I’m trying to get past/through/over while diminishing my power to get past/through/over it. As a result of this, and my unwillingness to talk to people about my problems, I’ve done something really stupid.
Confession time: I’ve projected my understanding of other people onto Jesus.
What does that mean? It means that I’ve assumed that my relationship with Jesus is like my relationship to anyone else and subject to the same rules and protocols. In my defense I came to that honestly because as Christians we’re always reminding each other that our relationship to God is LIKE ANY OTHER RELATIONSHIP and will require our time and effort. Now the emphasis is supposed to be on time and effort, but I jumped the gun a bit and put the emphasis on the beginning part.
This means that I have not even lifted up my complaints to God. I don’t complain to people in general, I don’t burden my relationships with my personal problems, therefore I don’t burden God with my problems.
How many people see a problem with that train of thought? Now that I’ve written it out I get to scrap everything I was planning on writing and get to write about this instead it’s such a problem.
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
Confused yet? In one breath we hear that we should carry each other’s burdens and yet each one should carry his own load. But the thing is that this is not an extended metaphor in which “load” is the same thing in both sentences.
Load in the second instance is talking about taking responsibility for oneself. We have to take responsibility for our own actions, our spiritual health, and our response to the world. We can’t grow if we are constantly placing the blame for our own actions on outside factors when in fact, we alone are responsible for ourselves. (I’m pretty sure that’s accurate feel free to disagree in comments this isn’t the main point of the post anyways)
Burden in the first case could mean sin pattern, stress from job or family situations, persecution, martyrdom and that kind of thing. These are burdens that the world places on us and we are meant to surrender to God. It’s not easy, and so long as we struggle with carrying it ourselves, the entire body must carry it and help one another to shed it. This is the instance that I struggle with. Now it could be that I so love my friends and family that I refuse to burden them with my own little problems. But that’s like saying I love God so much I don’t want to burden Him with my little problems.
The truth is that I don’t want to share that burden because of a genuine problem I have in making relationships.
Relationships, the core of Christian life, is a problem for me. I couldn’t tell you why it’s a problem, probably some deep inner healing thing I need to go through. But I do hope that by confessing and exposing this weakness of mine, others might be able to identify it within themselves and take care of it before it becomes a real issue.
Holding back your problems from friends and family isn’t love, it’s fear and timidity. But “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and self-control.”