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Friday, April 10, 2015

Carrying a Burden


Some time ago I received a message through FB from a friend of mine. “I need you to call me.  It’s your turn to kick my butt,” he said. He and I have, through the years, called each other to admit our failures and struggles. I’ve called him to say “I screwed up,” and he has held me accountable to make amends and to do better. And now he was calling upon me to return the favor.

I replied to his message, “I’ll put on my butt-kicking boots,” and promised to call.   

I expected a confession of some sort. This is what we do for each other. It’s difficult for Salvation Army Officers – or pastors of any denomination -to find someone to whom they can share their weaknesses and confess their failures. Maybe it’s not difficult to find someone willing to hear these things, but the difficulty is in finding someone you can trust with these things. Admitting weakness on any front, making a confession of any kind can be (and often is, in my experience) used as an excuse for punitive action. It’s hard to find someone you can trust with secrets. We’re an army that shoots its own wounded. So I feel very fortunate to have found someone that I can trust with some of mine – and feel honored that he would share his with me.

I called at the appointed hour and the phone rang, and rang, and rang. I left a message saying that I would call back.  He may have been busy. Things come up; meetings go long … I didn’t think he was avoiding my call. Whatever it was, he called me back not much later.

“Do you have your boots on?” He asked in lieu of a “hello.”

“Tightening the laces, now” I replied. And then he shared with me some of the things have happened in the past week, month, year…things that have been with him for much of his life, things that he has shared with almost no one else.

And these things have been a burden for him.  A burden that, frankly, I’m surprised that he has carried for so long.  I cannot begin to fathom the weight of this secret, the weight of secret fear and shame. Never feeling able to tell anyone – despite so many who may claim, “Oh, you can tell me anything.”  

When he came to the end of his admission, he asked me, “So, are you ready to kick my butt now?” It’s our little jest.  I have no desire to kick him when he’s down. And he’s never kicked me around either. Instead, I hope to help carry his burden – though at this point I have no real idea how I can help. 

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2




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