KEEPING THE FAITH: What we carry

Ronnie McBrayer

Ronnie McBrayer

Published: Thursday, March 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM.

Accumulate. It’s a dangerous little word that is employed to describe gently falling snow; the harmless growth of lint on the top bookshelf; or the inevitable gathering of ragged boxes, rusty tools, kits and caboodles found inside our garages. But those things that slowly accumulate can become merciless blizzards, a horde of cascading dust bunnies, and a backlog of space-stealing, flea market junk. Indeed, accumulate is a dangerous word.

What the Bible calls “trials and tribulations” accumulate too. Gradually, imperceptibly at first, the flakes fall silently down. A setback here. A disappointment there. A protracted illness. A wayward child. Deep, wordless pain. Anxiety about tomorrow. Without a sound, the weariness of life gathers until one day a look out the window reveals drifts the size of sand dunes crushing against the soul.

And sometimes it’s not the accumulation of various difficulties that grows so heavy; it’s the accumulation of time. A single burden, a load that was once manageable, becomes impossible to bear if it is carried too long. Case in point, consider the familiar case of the weighted water bottle.

If you have a few minutes, take in your hand a single water bottle. It weighs about a pound. Hold it in your outstretched arm. How long can you maintain such a position? A few minutes and you won’t be aware of the weight. Hold it for an hour and you will develop problems: Pain, tremors and weakness. Hold it for hours on end and you will end up in need of a chiropractor, surgeon or orthopedist. The bottle’s weight, over time, will break down even the strongest person.

Yet, all of us have a bottle in our hand. All of us carry burdens. All of us suffer from accumulation: The accumulation of multiple hardships or the accumulation of time — what we used to bear with ease is now too much. What do we do then?

Well, some of us have been taught to tough it out. “Rub some dirt on it and get back out there!” we are told. “Push through the pain,” say life’s drill sergeants. “If the bone ain’t sticking out, then you ain’t hurt,” comes the call from the sidelines, a call full of tyranny and empty of compassion. So we soldier on, dragging our burdens with us, never acknowledging that we have been flattened by what we carry.

Others are taught to ignore their troubles. “Just be positive. There’s no need to make a mountain out of a molehill. I’m sure things will work out in time. You know, there’s always someone worse off than you.” Such numbskull proverbs roll easily off the tongue, but land like hammer blows on the ones already so broken they cannot stand.



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