This idea of each one carrying his own load bears continues to be interesting to me. Not least because it is a thought that we don't hear very much at all.
The assumed virtue (and it's great and right) is to help others. It's what we hear about, and what we first feel is the good, admirable thing to do. It's what we are taught to do as children, and what we are admired for as adults. And we certainly could stand to do more of it.
Still, Each one will carry his own load. (Galatians 6:5) I have certainly had problems, confusions, hurts, that I have tried to solve or understand by talking with friends, or through the help of friends, but which, it became clear, they were not able to solve, or even help solve. I had to solve them alone with God.
This was a big lesson! I was learning that I had to carry my own load.
This describes a big idea. Each one of us, in being alive, has a responsibility. Our responsibility is to do well, be useful, feel good, understand and feel meaning in our lives. We begin to see that these things are our responsibility when we see how terrible we feel if we don't do these things! At the beginning it seems as though we can successfully travel this road simply with help from those around us. But after some time it becomes clear that we need something a whole lot more powerful than that. The temptations become too strong, the dangers too severe. Then, we begin to realize that each of us has work to do – spiritual work, alone with God. It is work of learning to be courageous. Learning to be less selfish. Learning to trust in goodness for the sake of goodness. Sometimes these things feel so counterintuitive, so difficult, that we are amazed at the sheer amount of work we have to do. Still, there it is before us!
At one point in my life I might have seen this statement that "each one will carry his own load" as a cold notion. I might have read it as anti-social or even anti-community. I might have wondered why the author was so severe in his statement of what virtue was.
But, these days, I feel so comforted by biblical statements like this one. They are not pronouncements of what is or isn’t virtuous. They are statements of the lay of the land. They are the news from the front. Letters home from scouts and travelers who have been to a land I haven’t been to. They are the map through the wilderness. And they are infinitely kind. Not because they say things that are sweet, but because they tell the truth.