To Bear or Not to Bear: That is the Question, Part 2 of 4

A series of Christian reflections on the application of biblical principles to the art of living.

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Whatever community we have in mind, questions arise and abound…

How do we honor – acknowledge and respect – our personhood, our individual beingness, and that of all those with and around us?

How do we lend assistance to others, for all need help from time to time, without usurping their responsibility for themselves?

How do we allow others to assist us without relinquishing our responsibility for ourselves?

How do we deal reasonably and fairly with those who, to us, seem to be quite willing to abdicate their self-care with an intention, however conscious or unconscious, that we will shoulder their burdens more fully?

How do we deal reasonably and fairly with the child or adult, the daughter or son, the spouse or partner, the relative or friend, the compeer or acquaintance, the member of whatever our affiliative groups who, in our view, irresponsibly acts up and irrepressibly acts out, leaving undone those things which ought to have been done and doing those things which ought not to have been done, and seems to be unaware of (or perhaps, all too aware, but insensitive to) the effect of his or her words and actions on others?

I have no ready or easy answers to these questions. However, a key to the beginning of a response, I believe, rests in our wrestling with the whole of the verse: Bear one another’s burdens and, in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6.2; my emphasis).

Here, I perceive a paradox at the core of our human nature. We can “fulfill the law of Christ,” that is, in one interpretation, become individually fully human as God has created us, in part, only as we give ourselves to others. Jesus gave voice to this conundrum, saying, “Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16.25).

Selfishness, by which we seek to have and to hold for ourselves, makes our lives a small package of dwarfed human personality and diminished human possibility. Selflessness, by which we seek to give ourselves away for the sake of others, makes for a larger life; for them and for us. A life characterized by heightened awareness of the fullness of the human condition, through sharing in the joys and sorrows of others, and a deepening acceptance of ourselves through the experience of embracing (and allowing ourselves to be embraced by) the joys and sorrows of our own lives.

More to come…

© 2021 PRA

2 thoughts on “To Bear or Not to Bear: That is the Question, Part 2 of 4

  1. Paul,

    I knew there’d be lots more questions!! Here’s what I’d say at the moment! When I am thinking of helping someone I always first ask myself, how will it make them feel if they offer help?? Will they think I’m trying to be helpful or that I think they are incapable of taking care of their own needs? I go to the next step after I answer that question especially if I know the person fairly well. I Can most of the time avoid being selfish because it’s the way I was raised yet there are times I want what I want when I want it. When it comes to my asking for help I will typically try to do everything myself UNLESS it’s something physical that I just can’t handle.

    To bear or not to bear that truly is the question. I know during my life I’ve helped some people far too often and others I probably haven’t helped enough. So I think one of the questions for me also needs to be, why do I continue to help even when I shouldn’t??

    Much love!

    Like

  2. Always, my dearest sister, there are questions.

    I digress. As I’m wont to say, anyone can provide an answer. (For all that takes, at its basic level, is to repeat a word that previously had been heard. This is not to say, of course, that all answers are derivative, that is, coming from a source other than the one who offers a response to a question.) However, a question always, I believe, gives and yields more information about the questioner in terms of her/his interest, concern, need that any answer, no matter how apt or correct, can do.

    So, again, always, there are questions. And, per my point, your closing question is most telling, most important for you. And the answer lies within you. I look forward to hearing from you, should you discern and desire to share your findings, what conclusion(s) you draw. For this business of giving-and-taking, offering-and-receiving one to, from, with another is an inescapable aspect of living in this world, which requires being in relationships of all kinds.

    Love

    Like

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