God gave us burdens, also shoulders.

God gave us burdens, also shoulders. – Yiddish Proverbs

These probably match the faces of my chess buddy and I the very first time I beat him.

What does that mean?
To me, this speaks about our luck, our fate, our destiny, our karma or whatever other term you want to use.  We all have things we’d rather not have to do, but that seems to be our lot in life.  But it also says we have shoulders, the place we carry burdens.  We can only hope that our shoulders can rise to meet the burden.  It speaks, in a word, to perseverance.  To keep going, despite life’s crushing load.  To bear the unbearable sorrow.

Personally, I believe that nothing is placed in our path that is insurmountable.  You may believe otherwise, but if you do, I think it is more a difference in definitions than you might think.

Why is perseverance important?
What if it wasn’t important?  What if you could get whatever you wanted without work, without struggle.  How much value would it have, whatever “it” might be?  Guys, be honest – how much do you value a girl that doesn’t make it a challenge?  What about anything else, do you value the climbing of a short but tough tree more than an easy but taller tree?  What about a competition?  Do you like to win easily, or is it much more memorable when your competitors bring out the best in you, even if you don’t win?

I don’t know about you, but I find my appreciation of a victory is directly tied to how hard I had to work to achieve it.  After flunking out of college (and getting back in), I valued my classes quite a bit more, and my degree became a bit more special to me.  Things I did easily don’t really register in my memory banks anymore, just the challenging ones.

Do you have similar memories?  One of my biggest childhood victories was the first time I beat a friend at chess.  He’d beaten me over 20 times straight before I got my first win.  I still remember the look on his face when he realized I had him cornered; he was shocked!

If you don’t persevere, what will you do?  How will you manage to finish anything, accomplish anything, or even amount to anything?  I’m sure there are some couch potatoes out there who would be fine with this kind of life, but most of us (I hope) want more than mere existence.

Where can I apply this in my life?
This quote hit home for me quite a few years ago, while reading about Jesus and his prayers while in the Garden of Gethsemane.  If God’s own son couldn’t get a break from his Old Man, what were my chances of getting a lighter load?  So instead, I pray for greater strength, to bear whatever burdens I encounter.

I also pray for greater insight, so that I might better decide which burdens must be borne, and which can be left, as well as the best way to bear them.  I still firmly believe the burdens are there to test us, to see how badly we want to move forward, and how much grace we can muster while under pressure.

I try to remember that the game of life is fixed, no one gets out alive.  So whether it’s a car wreck at 20, cancer at 30, a heart attack at 40 or whatever, we’re all going to die.  So I don’t buy the argument that a terminal disease is too great a burden to bear.  The burden is to live what life you have left with strength and dignity.

I met an older lady recently, who had terminal cancer.  She was fighting to make it 6 more months and finish up her bucket list.  She was in Las Vegas to live it up while she was still able to do so.  That’s the kind of shoulders I want to have if I ever am diagnosed with something terminal.

What burdens do you bear, or are trying to avoid because they are too big?  I don’t doubt that if you lack belief in yourself and try to bear the burden unskillfully, you will find it exceedingly difficult.  Have you ever seen a scrawny kid trying to do a push-up?  If they think they can, they probably can.  If they think they can’t, they are unlikely to surprise themselves.

Similarly, if you don’t think you can do something, who will argue with you?  Who will try to convince you that you can?  This belief needs to be tempered with some skill.  Heavy weights are best borne by the legs, back & shoulders.  Trying to lift a heavy weight with just the arms will probably be a lot harder than it has to be, if it can be done at all.  Lifting one of life’s burdens improperly will likely cause you to believe it cannot be done.

To me, working hard and working smart go hand in hand.  If I find I cannot do something on my own, I try to find some help.  People, friends, books, the Net; where ever, when ever, and however it has to be done, I get it done.  Granted, it can lead to some awkward questions as you ask friends if they’ve ever encountered something like your burden. But if you just sit there, quietly, you’re not going to get it done, are you?

The older lady whom I met in Las Vegas is probably dead by now.  But her memory lives on, and has inspired me to never back down.  There is a saying that some people’s lives (and problems) exist to be an example.  Usually the focus is on people providing a bad example.  The lady was, to me, the greatest example of bearing the burden placed in her path.

How will you face your burdens?  It is something that I believe you should think about, if you haven’t already.  Be strong.

From: Twitter, undocumented feed (my bad)
confirmed at: http://thinkexist.com/quotation/god_gave_burdens-also/157052.html
Photo by gorik

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