Sunday, May 22, 2011

Being Responsible to Others and For Ourselves





 " Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."
 Galatians 6:2
Photo by Artemis Twitches
There are going to be times in our lives (and in the lives of those we know) when our burdens are too heavy to bear. We may not have the strength, the resources, or the knowledge to carry the load and that is when we need to ask for help. When someone approaches you who is going through such a situation you have the opportunity to help them carry their burden. 

"The Greek word for burden means "excess burdens," or burdens that are so heavy they weigh us down." (Boundaries p. 33)

Maybe you have experienced a boulder sized burden before... these kinds of burdens are in times of crises and tragedy.  Some examples might include caring for a loved one, being diagnosed with cancer, suffering the loss of one dear to you, having a deployed spouse while you care for five children, etc.  In times such as these you cannot be expected to carry the load alone, it will break you.
Silhouette of girl feeding chicken - original design by Sarah Holbrook
“Early Bird” by Sarah Holbrook (http://candyspotting.com)

If you know someone who is going through a situation like the above, offer a helping hand, bring a meal, watch the kids, offer to clean their home, extend words of encouragement... it will ease their burden and you will both be blessed because of it.  When we help out others while they are going through these kinds of trials we are being responsible to someone else.  In doing so, we are denying ourselves in order to do for others something they cannot do for themselves.  This is called sacrificial love.

Now, on the other hand, in order to keep things balanced, Galatians continues on to say:

"If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.  
Each one should test their own actions. 
Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,  for each one should carry their own load."
 Galatians 6:3-5

"The Greek word for load means "cargo", or "the burden of daily toil."  This word describes the everyday things we all need to do.  These loads are like backpacks.  It IS possible to carry a backpack on our own.  We are expected to deal with our own feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as the responsibilities God has given to each one of us, even though it takes effort.
Problems arise when people act as if their "boulders" are daily loads and refuse help, or as if their "daily loads" are boulders they shouldn't have to carry.  The results of these two instances are either perpetual pain or irresponsibility." (Boundaries p.33)

 OUCH!  Do your toes hurt yet?  I have been guilty on both accounts.  I have carried the burden of a boulder for so long that I was crushed under it's weight. When I cared for my mother-in-love so many people offered to help either by cooking or cleaning and I refused.  I wanted to do it all, and be a Mom, and tend to the needs of the house, and be there for my husband, and, and, and... and be perfect.  I went almost three full days without sleep and I ended up in the emergency room with a kidney infection because I was not taking care of myself.  If you are carrying a boulder PLEASE  take my advice and allow others to help you.  You are not going to be able to help anyone else if you do not care properly for yourself.

I have also been guilty of  enabling others rather than letting them carry their own load. As mentioned above, this just allows the person to continue on in a state of irresponsibility.
It is easy for me to get stuck in a trap of feeling responsible for others.  It is common for me to jump in and help a person in "need" because I feel that if I do not step up to the plate and help them then no one else will.  I have learned, over time, that the need does not constitute the call  and that it is okay and healthy to say "no".
As we continue to define healthy boundaries we will be able to determine where our boundary of responsibility is and where someone else's begins.   Thank you for continuing to join me in the journey...

With love,
Dawna

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