If you hear yourself say, “I am such a burden to _________ [my family, friends, loved ones, the world],” you are in danger. Your mind will go to very dark places, and you are developing immunity to the encouragement of both other people and Scripture. For example, you will hear others say that they are happy to serve you, yet you do not believe it. Instead, you believe their lives would be much easier and, therefore, better if you were gone.
If people are not telling you that you are a burden, why do you feel that way?
Being needy is hard
Consider reframing “I am such a burden” to “I hate needing help.”
No one likes needing help.. We are happy to be needed, but no one likes being needy. We are, of course, needy everyday. Independence is a myth. We rely on others for food, utilities, technology and companionship. The problem is that we aim for balance in these relationships. If you give me food, I pay you. If you help me move furniture, my last words to you are, “whenever you need help moving, let me know.” Most of us don’t even like to ask for prayer from other people, because we feel like we are asking too much. The burden you feel is the growing imbalance between being needy and being needed.
When we feel needy and cannot carry our own weight, we feel as though we have lost purpose and meaning. We have been created to work and serve, and when we are less able to do these things, we feel diminished as a person—we feel like a burden.
So be clear with your loved ones. The problem is not that you burden them. It is that you were accustomed to relationships where giving and receiving were balanced. Now, the balance is gone and the change has been hard. Instead of saying you are burden, you might say:
It is so hard for me to inconvenience you. I wish you could just get on with your life and not have to bother with me. All my life I have been able to help other people. I never thought the day would come when I need help more than I can give. It is hard to be needy. Sometimes it makes me feel useless.
“Yet by God’s power”
Western values add to your burden. They say that strength and independence are good; weakness and dependence are signs of personal inadequacy and failure. In contrast, ever since Jesus experienced utter weakness in his crucifixion, weak people have been essential to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, and weakness has lost its power to humiliate.
For to be sure, he [Jesus] was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you. (2 Cor. 13:4)
Here is the key: the weak live by God’s power, only by God’s power. Lord, have mercy on us.
Sometimes a mere scrap of hope is enough to set us in a new direction, and there is certainly hope in this passage. Good and hopeful questions now come into view. How do the weak live by God’s power? What does that mean? These questions, by themselves, can get us out of bed in the morning. Even if our answers to them are not fully formed, they can guide how we pray and keep us watching for spiritual power.
Be a blessing
When you remember how you have been helped and blessed by others, you probably are remembering stories of people simply loving you. Their gift was not a result of their physical or emotional vitality, it was a result of their humble love. With this in mind, though you might be diminished in your abilities to serve, you still have the ability to love, and there are probably hundreds of ways you can express that love.
[Jesus said] I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:15)
Your fruitfulness is guaranteed as you know the love of Jesus, rest in him, and love others in his name. Your job is not to assess how much you burden others. Your job is to simply love the person in front of you. Praying for them is always a great start.
Your belief that you are a burden will not leave on its own. You need a counter-offensive. That offensive, by itself, will be a blessing to those around you.