The back to school season is in full swing! If you are anything like me, friendships were the things that made school, work, church, etc. fun. Every day I wake up excited to go see my friends and look forward to the possibility of meeting new people. I thrive on being in relationships with others. If you are anything like me, however, you may find that sometimes this love for friends can become draining. I often find myself so intertwined in my friends’ lives that I begin making their problems my own. I am a fixer! It is what I do. We must be cautious with this mentality.
It is important to remember that in any kind of relationship, we can support and love one another, but we cannot own each other’s struggles. I know what you are thinking: “Adyson, the Bible says to bear one another’s burdens!” You are absolutely right, it does say that. There is a difference between bearing one another’s burdens and taking all of their burdens onto your own shoulders. See I used to think that it was my job in bearing a friend’s burdens to take responsibility for their burdens, this is NOT what we are called to do. We are called to show compassion, empathy, and support. Most importantly, we are called to point our friends back to the cross in times of hardship.
I challenge you to take a look at yourself and your relationships and see if you are supporting your friends or taking responsibility for your friends. It is important to see the difference between those two things. The only person you can take responsibility for is yourself. When we begin to take responsibility for others, we are putting undue stress on ourselves and then we really aren’t being a help to anyone. We must seek Christ first. We must care for ourselves first. The saying “you can’t pour from an empty cup” exists for a reason. If you begin taking responsibility for everyone else, you will find yourself emptied out. I encourage you to refill your heart and being daily—whether that be spiritually, physically, mentally, all of the above is up to you and what you feel your needs are.
Again, if you are like me, these pretty word pictures don’t help you. So, let’s get practical here, this is what I do: I nourish myself physically, I make sure I am getting enough sleep, I work hard in school and my job, I turn my eyes to Christ for guidance. When I begin with these things, I am able to support the people in my life more effectively as I am not burning myself out in an attempt to solve all of their problems. I challenge you to take care of you first. This is something that many Christians overlook as we often believe it is selfish, let me be the one to say that it is not.
Bear their burdens, but do not neglect yourself. This will actually strengthen your friendships and relationships in the long run as you will have the energy to be present with them. How are you going to put this into practice in your own life? I challenge you to think and pray about it over the next few days.
Written By: Adyson