Every once in a while you run across a phrase that sticks with you. After hearing it just once it comes to mind spontaneously in various situations proposing ever new applications. Our chaplain shared such a pithy little statement with us the other day.
“It’s not the load you carry that will break you, it’s the way you carry it.”
We live in a culture that has trained us well to lay the blame anywhere but on ourselves. We have become so conscious of maintaining a healthy self image that some of us have created false images just so we can avoid anything that would cause our real selves discomfort. “If only” can easily become the catch phrase for countless occasions.
“I’d be fine if only I didn’t have this unbearable debt weighing over me.”
“I’d be fine if only my boss would recognize my real potential.”
“I’d be fine if only I never had to encounter that person again.”
“I’d be fine if only the government could get its act together.”
In each of these statements (as well as whatever one may be circling in each of our thoughts), the emphasis is on the load and that certainly is enough to break you if you let it. The trick is to move beyond the burden to action. What can I do about this right now?
We have many options on how to carry our load. But we should never try to do it alone. From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, God tells us that it is not good for man to be alone. Christ came that we might all be one. St. Paul reminds us that in the Body of Christ each is to help carry the other’s burdens. One might say that the road to heaven is all carpool lanes.
Secondly, we don’t have to carry it all at once. It is going to take several trips back and forth. The Gospel from just this past Sunday tells us again that we are not to worry about tomorrow, today is enough in itself. St. Therese reiterates this in her beautiful poem, “Only for Today” in which she begs God for the grace to continue carrying her load for this day only.
Thirdly, we should keep our eyes fixed on Christ and His burden, for it is easy and light. Who was it that said no burden is light, but if it is carried with love, it becomes light?
We will begin the grace-filled season of Lent next week and will be reminded to take up our cross and follow Christ. Maybe we should spend this next week thinking of the best way to carry that load: not alone, not all at once, and always in the presence of Jesus.