“Carry each other’s burdens . . .” – Galatians 6:2
One of the positive things about aging – and yes there are a few – is the acceptance of and appreciation for help from others. As one who has always been reluctant to ask for help, believing it to be a sign of weakness, this has been a huge transformation for me. Two lessons I have learned through this process are that one, age is not the reason I need, accept, and appreciate help; rather it is that with age I finally wised up to the fact that we all need help from others regardless of our age, and that accepting help is a sign of strength and wisdom, not weakness. And two, in my determination to do everything on my own, I felt little inclination to recognize, much less to help others in need.
There is an old Scottish tale I once read about a small girl trudging along carrying a young boy in her arms not much smaller than herself. A passerby, noticing the girl toting such a heavy load for her size, expressed concern that it might be too much for her. But the girl joyfully replied in her thick Scottish accent, “He’s na heavy. He’s mi brither.” . . . Notably, it was that same Scottish parable that would eventually inspire the familiar hit song recorded by The Hollies in 1969, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”
“The road is long,” the lyrics say, “With many a winding turn / That leads us to who knows where? . . . But I’m strong / Strong enough to carry him / He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother / So on we go / His welfare is my concern / No burden is he to bear / We’ll get there / For I know / He would not encumber me / He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother / If I’m laden at all / I’m laden with sadness / That everyone’s heart / Isn’t filled with gladness / Of love for one another . . . And the load / Doesn’t weigh me down at all / He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.
As a young man I was convinced that it was up to me to make my own way. But as life has taught me, no one should ever think that he or she is totally independent and doesn’t need help from others. Nor should anyone feel excused from the task of helping others. For God has surely placed us on this earth to help each other along the way, or as the Apostle Paul puts it, to “carry each other’s [our brothers’ and sisters’] burdens.” The Scottish girl had figured out at a young age what has taken me a lifetime to learn, “He’s na heavy. He’s mi brither.”