Categories
Ink Slingers Liz Series The Crossroads - Where Faith Meets Mental Health

The Weakling

burden

I am a weakling. I am a burden on my loved ones.

The thought crosses my mind so often, it gets fixed in the back of my brain. I can see the text of it when I close my eyes. It is written in wrinkles on the piles of laundry I haven’t put away and spelled in crumbs on the counters I haven’t wiped.  I hear it when my two-year-old asks, sweetly and anxiously, “You feel good today, Mom?” I contemplate it when I lay in bed, too depressed to make dinner.  I think it when my husband misses a practice or social event to soothe my anxiety or do “my” chores.  I feel it every time someone does me a favor or lightens my load out of love.

Secretly, I try to keep score with those who have helped me. Some are easy: that friend who babysat for me–I’ll be able to get her back in a week or two. Others are harder: my husband has done so much that short of carting his elderly future self around in a wheelchair, I’ll never repay him.  The thought fills me with desperation. No matter how hard I try to do it all on my own, because of my weakness and illness, there are people I will never pay back and favors I will always owe.  I am the cause of extra work, the source of annoyance, and a burden on those who know me.

If this toxic attitude sounds familiar, raise your hand. Now, repeat after me, “Dear God, help me let go of my control, my perfectionism and my pride.  Help me to allow others to work in service to me. By doing this, I will find Christ in their mercy, and they will find Christ in my weakness.”

What does this mean?

As Catholics, we believe that both faith and good works are necessary for salvation.  We are to work for the kingdom of God, not just pay lip service to its existence. What this does NOT mean is that our deeds can earn us salvation or that anything we do can come even close to repaying God for his gift of grace.  So why do we insist on the importance of good works? True acts of mercy and Christian service have the ability to change the giver and the receiver at the same time. Both parties are given the opportunity to love one other, to humble themselves enough to help or be helped, and to catch the tiniest glimmer of the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice. We cannot keep score with Christ who died for us. We’re the ultimate “burden” to the ultimate loved one. No matter how hard we try, because of our weakness and sin, we will never return the favor of salvation. But Christ doesn’t ask us to repay him.  Instead, his power is made perfect in our weakness.

When we obsess over the inconvenience we represent to our loved ones, when we try to shoulder our weakness and sickness all alone, when we keep constant tally of the favors that help us, we are missing out on the graces of weakness and vulnerability. We are denying our families and friends the chance to be and see Christ in our lives. And we’re keeping ourselves from the great freedom that St. Paul discovered when he triumphantly announced, “I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

If you are a weakling, embrace it. If you are a burden, rejoice. Like all other hardships, it’s nothing but another chance for the power of God to be made manifest in you.

RESOURCES

DBSA {Depression, Bipolar Support Alliance}

NAMI {National Alliance of Mental Illness}

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION HOTLINE

MTHFR {genetic mutation associated with depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia}

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Lent Michelle Prayer Spiritual Growth

Simon of Cyrene Revisited

Dear Friends,
I originally wrote this piece on November 5, 2012. I thought this would be a good time to rerun it. If you ar familiar with our Facebook Fanpage you know that yesterday I asked for prayers for our dear Sista Martina and her family. I ask that you become a “Simon” for her and help her carry her cross by keeping her family close in prayer. Thank you for being such an important part of the Catholic Sistas family! It speaks volumes that we can come to you to lift us up in prayer and to know that you will do so without hesitating. <3

If you have ever read or heard the Passion of Jesus then you have heard of Simon of Cyrene.  Chosen out of the crowd of onlookers to help Christ carry his cross, Simon bore the weight of Jesus’ burden for a small amount of time.

There is such significance in the short line in the Gospel that reads, As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.Matthew 27:32. How hard that must have been for him!  Picking up the cross of a condemned man was surely an embarrassment.  It also rendered him defiled and unable to participate in the Passover festivities and meal.  Still, pressed into service, he obeyed and helped Jesus carry His cross.  In depictions of this act we see Simon being forced to help, but as he nears the end, he is willing to help with this arduous task.  I can only imagine the awe he felt when they reached the top of Golgotha where Jesus would lose His life.  What a life changing experience for Simon and his family.

We often have crosses that are too heavy for us to bear alone.  We have all heard Jesus’ words from Matthew 16:24 “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”  But how hard is it for us to do just that?  Often we stumble, as Christ did on his journey with His cross, and we need someone to help us carry the burdens that are just too heavy to carry alone.  Thankfully God, in His wisdom, still provides just the right people to help us along the way… our very own Simons of Cyrene.

All too often we feel like we have to carry our crosses alone.  Of course God is always there to help us shoulder the weight of the cross but He also gives us both heavenly and earthly helpers just when we need them.  Do we see them for what they are worth?

The Simons of the world come in so many varieties.  Some may be quiet prayerful friends whom you can ask to pray for you and for your worries.  Others may be the friend who sends you funny, pick-me-up cards in the mail to make you smile.  Some may call you and talk for hours and yet others might be the friends who sit quietly and listen.  Simon might be found in a stranger at Mass who compliments you on your beautiful family not realizing that right before you got there you had yelled about missing shoes, socks and coats.  He might be found in the kindness of a stranger who pays for your meal in front of you at a fast food restaurant, even if you only ordered something small.   Simon may be in the gentle smile of the nurse who is tending to your sick child or the friend who takes your children for the day “just because”.   He is there when someone helps us financially, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

God knew that our crosses were not going to be easy to bear.  He knew that following His Son would require great faith and strong shoulders.  However, He also knew that there would be times we cannot do it alone.  Just as He provided Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry His cross, God also provides us with people in our lives to bear the weight of our crosses when they become too heavy to hold alone.

I urge you to think about the people in your life whom God has provided to you to help carry your crosses.  Pray for them.  Thank God for them.  Show them how thankful you are that they are in your life and that they are willing to shoulder your burdens, your worries, your hardships, and your sorrows.

We are all called to be like Simon of Cyrene.  We are called to help each other in our struggles.  Are we Simon for others?  If not, why not?  We are reminded in Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

When you feel overwhelmed, when you feel alone, when you feel your worries are too heavy to bear, remember that Christ also needed someone to help Him carry His cross as well.  Go to God, go to Jesus, go to those He has provided to help ease your burdens.  Find the Simons in your life and let them help you carry your cross.