Growing up, it was emphasized that “hatifukuri hapwa” translated to the English proverb ‘we do not air our dirty linen in public’. We were taught to keep it together in public, not to go about telling people our business as they had no right to know it. This is all very true and well meaning, and I agree with it to a certain extent. Not everyone needs to know about your business simply because not everyone wishes you well. We do however, need to learn to let our guards down every once in a while to a circle of trusted family and/or friends.
If we look at scripture, we will find that God is very big on community. Nowhere in scripture will you find a man who lived and died, bearing his burdens alone. The New Testament church had a community, and Jesus instructed them to ‘carry one another’s burdens’ and to ‘love one another, for by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love, one for another!’ Jesus was and still is big on us having a community that bears one another’s burdens. But here is the clincher, I can only bear a burden that you share with me. Sometimes we hold onto our burden ever so dearly and blatantly refuse to let anyone else in, but then we feel crushed or overwhelmed by the weight of what we are carrying, and then turn around and despise the people in our inner circle for not noticing that we are heavy laden. This creates a cycle that further alienates us from the people meant to help us. Truth be told, people can only help you with that which you let them in on.
I do not know why or how it is that as a society we have been deceived to believe that the best people are those who appear to always have it ‘all together’. So we go through life pretending that we have it all figured out, yet truthfully we don’t. We will be burning deep inside with problems that are so deep, that need the inner circle to step in and ‘bear these burdens’ with you, but we feel that if we let them in, we will be viewed as less. We would rather pretend to be a jovial couple out there, putting up a facade of the picture perfect couple even to our closest friends than admit that we last had a proper conversation as husband and wife years ago. When asked how you are doing, the answer is always a jovial ‘fantastic’ or in vernacular, ‘bho zvekuti’, yet deep inside we are screaming and tormented and fighting wars that no one has any idea we are fighting. We suffer in silence when we ought to speak; we keep to ourselves when we ought to be looking for help; and therefore find ourselves stuck in this vicious loop of torment, more alienated than we ever thought we could be and just not seeing a way out of our misery and so, we plunge deeper and deeper into it. All because we are afraid of what people will think of us if we tell them the truth. We are afraid to take off our masks even to those closest to us because we are afraid that if they see the real us, the “us” that does not have it ‘all together’ after all, but that is falling apart at the seams they will view us as worth less.
The past year has been the most trying year of my life. I had a lot of personal major health problems, major social and professional curve balls were thrown my way and these just left me completely mentally exhausted. Now my inner circle knew all the drama that was unfolding, but truth be told I was putting on a very brave face and telling them that I am a survivor, and i would revel in their praises of how “I was so strong.” I would go to bed feeling fine but would wake up with my pillow soaked in tears; I would cry in my sleep and only in my sleep because I suppose my brain knew that was the only way to let it all out because I did not and could not even allow myself to openly admit the pain and weight I was carrying whilst I was conscious.
This is what C. S. Lewis writes in his book the chronicles of Narnia; “Oh how foolishly you sons of Adam protect yourselves from all that is meant to do you good.” How foolishly we do this. I need not have carried my burden alone. I first and foremost needed to have laid it at the foot of the cross, for this is what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28 come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest… My burden was for me to run with to the cross. But, not only that, I was meant to share this burden with my inner circle. A great circle of family and friends who love me and are willing to share this burden with me, but only if I allow them. Your inner circle can only carry that which you let it in on, they can only carry that which you offload to them.
Jesus gave us an earthly family, be it your actual biological family, or the extended Christian family, whichever way He gave us a family. A community that is meant to help us carry our burdens. Let me finish off with these beautiful words from my good friend Tendai. We would do well to remember them. She says, “Something God showed me today is how the enemy likes to convince us to pray alone when he knows that he cannot convince us to completely stop praying. This is because praying together comes with a blessing and a promise. Jesus said where 2 or more are gathered there I am with you. So it takes at least 2 for this promise to be activated. Again in Psalm 133 it says where brothers come together in unity….there God commands a blessing.”
Let us not burn in silence, for it is not the will of God. Find people you can talk to and trust, and let them help you carry your burden. God bless.