To Bear or Not to Bear: That is the Question, Part 3 of 4

To Bear or Not to Bear: That is the Question, Part 3 of 4

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


Bear one another’s burdens…all must carry their own loads.

The Apostle Paul calls us to remain open to the opportunities to help others, especially when they find themselves caught in the poetic “fell clutch of circumstance.”

Being “open,” in my lexicon, means that we, first, are bidden to discern (to be clear with ourselves about) what we have to offer, and then to decide (to choose from the cache of our resources) what we will offer…

A great or small concrete act of care arising out of our experience and expertise or drawn from our material means or both…

A compassionate word, a sympathizing tear…

The comfort of our presence…

Each or all of the above.[1]

We, in bearing the burdens of others, offer our gifts. Then we, in letting all carry their own loads, allow others to respond to our offerings as they choose; accepting or declining with a sense of thanks or ingratitude, with a spirit of trust or suspicion, now or later.

To bear or not to bear? That is the question. To bear and not to bear. This is an answer.

To bear: To be present with others in the midst of life, ready to give and to receive one from another the gifts of who we are and what we have, helping others and being helped by others to bear up under the often-withering weight of life in this world.

Not to bear: To allow others and ourselves the freedom to accept offers of help as they and as we will. To allow others and ourselves to assert responsibility for self, for they and we must live with the consequences of the choices they and we make.

More to come…

© 2021 PRA

[1] And, given the histories of our relationships, particularly when fraught with disappointment and discord, I duly acknowledge that in certain concrete circumstances of another’s desire and need, in fairness to ourselves, in fidelity to our agreements, and, in the compassion of shared suffering that resists placing ourselves and others in a position to risk the repeat of past behaviors, our decision may be not to offer material goods.

3 thoughts on “To Bear or Not to Bear: That is the Question, Part 3 of 4

  1. I like the direction you’re going, Paul. I’ll hold off on any further response until your fourth post on this issue, but so far, so good in my opinion!




  2. Paul,

    I sure am grateful for all of the people who have helped to bear me up in this life, including you. I’m just as grateful for the people I’ve helped to hold up on the speaking circuit. It’s amazing how many calls and emails I’ve gotten in the almost year since the lockdown started from folks who say that the information and love I share in my presentations have helped to keep them going! That alone helps me to know I am definitely fulfilling my calling.

    Much love!


  3. Loretta, in reading and in reflecting on your comment, it occurs to me that you, in your life and in your calling, in all the ways that you engage and wrestle with the(se) questions, are a paradigm, a model, indeed, an example of the focus of these four posts, under the heading: “To Bear or Not to Bear: That is the Question.”

    And, Karen, I look forward to your response.



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