Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Mutual Support

“Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6.2

Why are Weight Watchers groups so effective? Why is Alcoholics Anonymous so helpful to people? Why can two friends spend hours chatting without noticing the time flying by? Why are prayer ministries so often accessed? Why are grief groups so regularly attended? Perhaps it is because some burdens are too heavy to carry alone.

We often hold in our pain because we know that no one likes the habitual whiner or the chronic complainer. And, we don’t want to burden others every time we don’t get our way about something or every time we feel slighted or insulted. We don’t want to stir up strife and discontent just because we are annoyed or disappointed.

And yet, some pain is so genuine, so real, so legitimate, so overwhelming, that even the strongest of us can’t adequately cope with it alone and so we finally tell someone about it. Not only do we feel better for having detoxified our souls, but we also feel supported and cared about because someone took the time to listen.

Clinical depression may need medication, and minor bumps in the road may just require resilience, but true emotional agony needs to be released. A good friend, a therapist, a support group, a clergy person who will listen and respond with compassion may facilitate the healing opportunities we need.

Shakespeare counsels us in King Lear, “Who alone suffers, suffers most i’ th’ mind, leaving free and happy shows behind; but then the mind much sufferance doth o’erskip, when grief hath mates, and bearing fellowship.”

When we bear one another’s burdens, they do get lighter, and we are all able to live our lives more freely and with more joy.

--durrell watkins

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