Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2
I’ve previously mentioned that I meet weekly with a group of guys, in an effort to continue working on my own faith and recovery, and to help others with theirs. Weekly, we meet to discuss our failures and successes and to keep each other accountable. It wasn’t always a group of guys though. Years ago, it was just a buddy and me. We met every week . . . until I relapsed. Then, I suddenly had an excuse not to meet for seven or eight weeks in a row. Because I was using, I didn’t want to get together with someone who was going to ask me how I was doing, so I avoided him. I was on the run, isolating in my addiction.
Now, the group has learned to watch for this pattern of behavior. Whenever someone has attended faithfully and then suddenly stops showing up, something is wrong. He’s on the run, isolating and avoiding those who would ask him about what’s going on in his life.
This is our nature – to isolate in our struggles. When we’re failing at something, we feel shame. To avoid anyone else seeing it, we hide and bury the shame, often by simply staying away from those who would see it and say something. It’s not just our failures that isolate us though. Depression, anxiety, and mental health struggles can cause us to avoid those who love us. Marriage problems or financial difficulties can provoke the same kind of response. Just when we need others the most, is often when we insulate ourselves, choosing separation over community.
This is not how it’s meant to be. In today’s passage, Paul exhorted us to bear one another’s burdens. Some loads are too heavy to carry alone and simply aren’t meant to be. When we share our struggles, somehow, they become lighter as we choose openness and honesty over secrecy and silence.
This isn’t easy or accidental though. I don’t just happen to run into some guys at the coffee shop every week. Rather, we purposefully meet and we’re purposefully open and honest with each other. Yes, it’s sometimes painful. We’ve learned though, that the opposite can be deadly. We need each other and we need to bear each other’s burdens. Life is hard, but we weren’t meant to do it alone. We were made to live in community, bearing one another’s burdens. Isolation kills, but in community we find life and growth together.