You might not know the Swahili word for “Burden”, you might not know the Latin word for “Load”, and you might not know the Chinese word for what is heavy; but you know what the invisible burden you carry in your heart feels like. It feels like a weighty load you are compelled to carry on your head, which is crushing you with its heaviness. The heavy weight sucks you in, bears you down, forcing you to keep moving, even when you wish you could just sit and rest.
While some of us carry our burdens on our heads and shoulders, some carry theirs in their minds and hearts. The weight feels so heavy, the pain is excruciating, the body is restless, the heart is bleeding, the health is failing, the feeling is appalling, and life loses its fervor when we carry burdens that we can’t see and can’t touch inside our minds, and we have loads of responsibilities hovering over our heads, like some clouds made of rock.
There are those whose burden in life is like someone pushing a heavy rock up hill; if they stop, the rock ball will push back: it could roll over them and crush them! Yet, the more they push up hill, the more they get exhausted, and the heavier the rock seems. They can get tired, but the rock won’t get tired. Their muscles can weaken, but the rock won’t stop being hard. What can such a person do? He can give up and allow the rock to crush him, or he might run down the slope into the crocodile-infested water!
That is the way it is in many lives. They are trapped in all sorts of burdens that keep them collapsing under the yokes of inner rots and decays. They are always busy attending to their burdens, bearing and forbearing, trembling and scared, confused and disturbed, cold and sick, yet they look for borrowed burdens to add to theirs even when such sacrifice is needless and unproductive. Thus, they are frustrated, overwhelmed, and broken.
There are those bent double by the burden of secrets they fear that their “best friends” might expose to people: the dread of rumors, the fear of being found out! They are caught in the webs of blackmails orchestrated by those they trusted. There is this burden of laboring hard without any type of recognition or appreciation, when your best efforts are taken for granted, and when your contributions are not acknowledged, turning a pleasant responsibility to a cumbersome yoke. Then you feel mistreated, neglected, or cheated.
There is also this burden of drowning in the grinds of everyday hustles, yet no one is ready to rescue you; of crying out for help, yet being abandoned by those who promised to always be there for you, and that of being punished for being human, being despised for being lonely. And, Oh! How soul-tormenting is the burden of spiritual predicaments – from confusion to perplexity, from impediments to road blocks! There are burdens of near-success experiences, spiritual darkness that throws people into inexplicable lethargy, and spiritual burdens that get victims shackled by diabolical machinations of evil doers.
What of the burden of devastating regrets of an irretrievably lost past that weighs heavily on the conscience? That is, having to confront a monstrous repercussion of misdeeds that have long been forgotten, but now resuscitated to haunt a soul that is seeking to rest: old wounds that are bleeding afresh, and the vicious circle of anger and shame that makes you keep reliving the past over and over again.
Then, there is the burden of debt: of owing others all manner of things – money, promises, commitments, responsibilities, and so on. Some even owe such that their next generations will still have to pay. Hah! Debts that you need more debt to pay more debt with! You can’t sleep, you can’t walk freely, you can’t talk freely, you can’t even think straight anymore. You are cowed, reduced, embarrassed, and humiliated. And then, there is the burden of being addicted to debt and the burden of being a burden onto others! These are the worst!
On the other hand, there is this delicate balance between a burden and a responsibility, and sometimes, it is a matter of mindset, perception and how you handle situations. What you regard as a burden might be a necessary obligation to carry forward an assigned task to a successful conclusion. You might have to make use of your own strength, search for it and build on it, then brace-up and carry your responsibilities with confidence and dignity. Somebody can chew meat for you, but they can’t swallow it for you, and nobody can go to the toilet on your behalf.
However, problems of life and the burdens we have to bear will not finish, but there is a kind of doom and gloom that permeates the soul that seeks to bear all of life’s burdens alone! It kills your zest for life and suicidal thoughts born of hopelessness makes you want to die, thinking that death would help you escape the weight!
No! Don’t kill yourself. If the burden is too much, put it down, let go of unnecessary burdens, share with others, or seek help of professionals before the last straw breaks the camel’s back! You can’t slap your shadow. So, reach out for prayer, for counselling, for medication, for reconciliation, for whatever. Liberate yourself from frustration and anger. Release yourself from the burdens of debt, regret, secrets, shame and guilt! Cry if you must, stop hiding your tears; you are human. You are hurting and hiding: why would you allow your pain to kill you because of your pride? Let others share in the care; let them feel your emotions and bring you comfort and relief. “A joy shared is a double joy. A burden shared is half a burden”, says an old proverb.