Being “Alone Together” and Sharing Our Burdens

 

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You gotta walk that lonesome valley,
You gotta walk it by yourself,
Nobody here can walk it for you,
You gotta walk it by yourself.
– You Got to Walk That Lonesome Valley, American Spiritual Folk Song (anonymous)

Do you ever feel alone? I don’t mean feeling lonely, but rather just alone; feeling like you are all by yourself or on your own as you face life’s ups and downs. Sometimes I do. Friends come and go. Jobs come and go. Possessions come and go. Even family members leave us – through death, divorce or distance. Ultimately it’s “just me, I think to myself. And there is a certain truth to that isn’t there? In the words of the song, you’ve got to walk that lonesome valley by yourself.

Or do you? We do often have “face the music” or take action as individuals. Recently one of my good friends went through a divorce. No one could get divorced for him; he had to do it himself. Naturally it came with considerable emotional pain. No one could take it away or suffer the pain for him; he had to do that himself too. But, because he has friends, he didn’t have to do it by himself.

God created us as individual persons, but also as people designed for teamwork. Starting with Adam and Eve, humans have been created to be in relationships with one another and with God. It’s in our nature. It’s part of God’s plan that we should love and support one another, bearing each other’s burdens, and helping each other to face our individual tasks.

We get in trouble when we ignore our nature. Too often our pride prevents us from accepting love and support from our friends. Unwilling to admit our weaknesses or imperfections, we hide our personal problems and our emotional pain, putting up a good front. We say things like, “I’m fine” and maintain outward appearances even as our interior life is falling apart. Don’t deny it. I know that you do this kind of thing, because I do it too. It takes one to know one, as they say.

Usually it’s when we can’t open up, when we try to “keep a lid on it,” and when we try to handle it all on our own, that our problems worsen. When, finally, the truth is revealed (as it almost always is), it often comes as a great emotional relief and we can begin to make forward progress. Not without pain of course, but secrecy and self-reliance are often big parts of our problem.

Like me, you’re human, and so you’re going to have many painful and problematic situations in this life (for example illness, loss, death, divorce, addiction, debt, bankruptcy, estrangement, unemployment, etc.) and you will have many painful emotional struggles with fear, worry, shame, guilt and other negative emotions. Who will help you face them? Do you have friends? You’re going to need them. And how is your relationship with God? You’re going to need him too.

Having friends or knowing God is the easy step. We’ve all got friends, and God knows us already. The harder part is the next step of opening up and sharing our troubles with our friends. It can be even hard for us to tell God (despite the fact that we know he already knows.) I’m getting better at both, and I hope you will too.

So share your burdens with your friends. They can’t do everything for you but they can help you get through the tough times. Most importantly, trust God and tell him about your troubles. Ask for help. Jesus is way more powerful than your regular friends, and he has walked the lonesome valley for you. With him you are never alone. Praise God.

Comments

  1. Great addition, the song —