There are days when we feel that tiredness is our constant companion, when our resources and energy are drained, and we feel on the verge of just giving up. We feel the pressure to give as if everything depended on us, thinking we have no other choice, if that is what we have to do to help the people in our lives. Having some kind of superhero syndrome wherein we consider it our duty to help solve others’ problems is not really bad. It’s just that before we can help others, we should first help ourselves.
It was somewhat strange and at the same time liberating to hear Bro. Randy Borromeo advising that we should not forget to help ourselves when we help others. Although it seemed to be a contradiction to Mt 16:24 which says we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Christ, the point was what would we have left to deny if we have given ourselves totally away? It was about building boundaries or psychological fences that would prevent harmful habits or harmful people from entering our lives.
Sometimes it’s not a choice between good and bad. I think it could be a choice about when to do good when the timing is just not right. Like when a friend asks for a loan at a time when my budget is just enough to pay bills. I would love to help out, but since I am not capable at the moment I will regretfully decline. To avoid being embroiled in financial problems, I choose to advice my friend to look for other means. My earnest prayer is that the time will come when I will never have to turn away anyone who approaches to ask for help.
Setting limits needs to be done to avoid having “broken fences”. Giving freely without considering our own welfare could break our money fence and leave us bankrupt or in debt. Our body fence could give way and leave us stressed out and sick, or ruled by addictions. A friendship fence in shambles could make our relationships toxic, dysfunctional or broken. Consider also the irony of having a wrecked helping fence, being unable to do the very thing we wanted to do in the first place, which was to help those who are in need.
There are burdens we can share, and by all means, let us help carry these. But let’s avoid unintentionally teaching people to be dependent on us instead of learning to stand on their own feet. The gist is we should help those who CAN’T carry their problems, but not those who WON’T carry their own problems.
As followers of Christ, we each have our own crosses to bear. Let us not shirk from carrying our own cross, to learn the lessons we are being taught for our own wellbeing. And most importantly, to allow God’s will to be fulfilled in our lives.