I’m not one to share with others the things that are going on in my life. In fact, I’m a very, very private person. For instance, I was in the hospital from the flu for nearly a week very recently (and why there have been no Torah Bites in two weeks!), and most of the people in my circle of friends and family didn’t know about it until I was nearly home.
It’s just the way I am. I don’t want to bother others. I don’t want to be a worry to them. I feel they have as much in their lives as I do, and I don’t need to add to my angst to theirs. I’m the same way when I have family come in during the holidays or special occasions, when I’m managing my husband’s business, when I’m doing the household chores…I don’t ask for help. Everyone else is busy and has their stuff to do, and they don’t need me adding to their pile. I don’t want to give them even more work to do. My reasoning sounds pretty thoughtful and considerate, doesn’t it?
And as HaShem has recently shown me, against everything He teaches.
Today’s portion of Parsha Yitro in the Torah reading from Exodus 18 concerns Moses’ father-in-law Jethro. He has brought Moses’ wife, Zipporah, and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, back to him in the wilderness where the Israelites are camped. While there, he watches as Moses sits as magistrate among the people from morning until evening, without a break. And being the compassionate and wise man that he is, asks Moses what in the world is he doing?
“But when Moses’ father-in-law saw home much he had to do for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you act alone, while all the people stand about you from morning until evening?” Moses replied to his father-in-law, “It is because the people come to me to inquire of G-d. When they have a dispute, it comes before me, and I decide between one person and another, and I make known the laws and teachings of G-d.” But Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing you are doing is not right; you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” (Exodus 18:14-18)
And therein lies the rub… “For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Bear one another’s burdens—in this way you will be fulfilling the Torah’s true meaning, which the Messiah upholds.” (CJB)
As I look at my unwillingness to share the burdens that I’ve piled on my shoulders, I have to ask myself the hard question. Am I really being that humble and self-effacing, or do I have a martyr complex tendency that I’m wearing with a little bit of pride?
I’m not suggesting that we whine to one another about all the little irritations in life that come our way. But there are true burdens that each of us carry that we’re carrying by ourselves or that we don't share fully with others, and HaShem is telling us, “The task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.”
Yes, we can always go to the Father with our burdens. But we were made for relationship with people as well. And part of that relationship complexity is sharing our hearts and needs with our brothers and sisters in Yeshua, with our families, and with our friends.
Yes, I’m tired after a full day of work, and I need you to help me with the dishes. Yes, I’ve been sick, and I need prayer, and maybe a little bit of help. Yes, I’m going through this time of trials and tribulations, and I need you to pray for me, and maybe let me talk this out and get some advice.
Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages” has me pegged to a tee – acts of service. That is how I express love to those around me. But that love language can get turned on its head when I don’t act in just as loving a way to myself. I cannot pour out of an empty cup.
And neither can you.
The next time that you decide to tackle something by yourself that you really need prayer or support with, remember this verse. “For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.” Call a friend for prayer, talk to your spouse about the burdens of your day, pray to the Father, who gives you strength, ask someone to physically help you. You weren’t meant to be on this walk by yourself.
Now, who wants to help me with some dishes?