Chaim Potok, in his books The Chosen, and The Promise, broaches the subject of carrying the burdens of other people. He does this through his fictional depiction of certain Hasidim Jewish sects that settled in Brooklyn, NY in the years following the Holocaust. He describes it in such a vivid way, that at times, I too, carried the weight of the characters. If I were a more motivated person I would give you quotes and all that good stuff, but I'm sitting in my office and not in my bedroom.
The heaviness of life can often bog us down. It has this muddy quality that pulls our being into the places we desire to never be and have feelings we would rather push aside. At times this is a lonely place, or at least we perceive it to be. We feel alone in our heaviness. We cope in ways that are often destructive to ourselves and those around us. A past pastor of mine once said, "Hurt people, hurt people." We become wounded animals, feeling trapped in our circumstances, alone, and in danger. We often refuse help until we realize how desperate our circumstances have become. For most of us it is a moment of anguish that causes us to grasp the first warm body that seems somewhat understanding. We cling to them for dear life.
I've had a few moments in my life that I have clung, eyes squeezed tight, gripping tightly to an unseen truth or reality. Often a friend or mentor has been that person I've grasped onto. Not because of their strength in pulling me out of my muddy heaviness, but because they trusted in something much bigger than themselves to help me.
Coming out of those moments, I have found that I try to be there for others, and to be that person who relies fully upon God, that something much bigger than myself, to help them through. I confess, though, that it is a hard place to be. The heaviness of those around me pulls me into mud much thicker than my own. I forget how to reach out for help, to not act like a wounded animal. Helping others requires a strength that I, alone, do not possess. I care too much. I find myself with a weight I cannot bare. At times I feel, in my effort to be helpful, I enable. I carry a burden I was never meant to carry.
I don't want to be a person that finds my identity in my acts, but in my character - a character that reflects the light of something much larger than myself. Nine years ago I made the commitment to learn how to live outside of heaviness. I came into contact and experienced the love and understanding of a God that was much more capable of carrying my weight, and the weight of others. As with most things in life, this is a process, and not something most people, myself included, learn overnight. I am still learning, and that's hard for me to admit. Thankful there is grace in the moments I find myself back in the mud or weighed down by weight I should not be carrying.
So, to all of those who want to save the world, and be there for others. Take care of yourself, and remember it's not about being a savior, but rather doing our best to light the path to the savior.