He Ain’t Heavy


I don’t know about you, but I know I can safely say there have been times when I was asked by others to help with something or to commit to time that I otherwise had planned for something else, that I hesitated while contemplating the weight of the decision. It was as if each decision was measured by some invisible scale that I had constructed over time to help determine whether I could afford it financially, emotionally, or physically.

Having been raised in a home which, at times, had very little money, I learned to make what I had go as far as I could.  Even so, for as long as I can remember I’ve been generous and shared what I had with others.  Regardless, at times there has been a little voice in my head that pulled back and hesitated from letting go of what I had; for whatever reason.

Our decision to help others is usually based on how well we know that person; whether they’re family or a close friend verses some stranger off the street who we’ve never met.  Due to the influence of social media, today we’re more guarded than ever with trusting others who ask for our help having seen so many people taken advantage of or stolen from.  One thing is for certain, though, if that person is someone we’re close to, say a family member or close friend, most of us would do almost anything to help them if they truly needed it.

Ironically, if we can break through our fears and hesitations to help, the sense of joy and wholeness we have afterward far outweighs the self-preservation we felt to start with.  It’s as though the burden we thought would ensue has lifted and we now feel better than before knowing we made a difference in someone else’s life; that we had a purpose. 

It’s when we see that person not as an object or someone taking from us, but as one closest to us whom we love (possibly more than ourselves) that we’re free to let go and give.  It’s love that takes away the burden of helping and turns it into an act of joy.  It’s love that takes the fear we feel of letting go of something we own and turns it into satisfaction knowing that someone else was helped by it even more than ourselves.

There’s a song from the 60’s by The Hollies called, ‘He Ain’t Heay He’s My Brother’ that really puts it all into context.  The song talks about helping to carry another’s burden along a long road with many winding turns.   Yet, their burden isn’t heavy because ‘He’s my brother’.  

That’s where I want to be.  I have a long way to go still, but on this road of life I’m bound to come across others nearly every day who will need my help.  If I can see them though love’s eyes as my brother, that load won’t be heavy.  Indeed, it will be light and we’ll both get there together…


Pretentiousness – Where Does It Come From?


Tonight, the Mrs. and I watched another episode of a new favorite show on Hulu called, ‘The Kids Are Alright’.  It’s based on a Catholic middle-class family with eight kids (all boys) set in the early 1970’s.  Of course, we can both relate to many of the cliché’s and cultural references since we were both kids during that time; which makes the show even more funny to us.

The episode we enjoyed was about a drama program the church was putting on in order to raise money.  The middle son, who narrates the show as an adult, and his brother were in competition to make themselves stand out; one as an actor and the other a stage designer.  Both boys had an insecure need to be noticed by others and to find approval. 

The older son, normally the mother’s favorite who is always trying to please her, even risked his infamous status by standing up for himself when she tried to stop him from being a part of the play.  It was a moment many children who are afraid of displeasing their parents feel; the fear that their parents won’t love them or approve of them if they do what they really want to do instead of what their parent’s want.

Earlier today while traveling in Austin traffic, the thought came to my mind how so many in the world wrestle with pretentiousness when I heard a spot on the radio calling out how, because so many people today suffer from a fear of pleasing others, there is a lack of authenticity in our culture.  I have my own understanding of pretentiousness, but I decided to look up what Webster defines it as; ‘Attempting to impress by affecting greater importance, talent, culture, etc., than is actually possessed’.

We seem to be so obsessed with being greater than we are.  This need is driven by an insecurity deep inside that says we won’t be good enough, or accepted, unless we are greater than we are.  I can’t help but to believe that this ingrained need comes from our childhood somewhere as in the show today where two brothers are competing for the same attention and approval, not only with each other, but with their six other siblings.

The challenge for all parents is to help their children feel a sense of self-worth, acceptance, and to have a positive self-image.  With so many things competing for our attention, providing that is not an easy task.  Even so, today we see some parents pour too much time into the effort and create a sense of entitlement in their kids.  So, where’s the balance?  How do we know when we’re giving too little or too much? 

Our children will most likely not tell us verbally.  Most will act out in other ways that may seem negative (I know because I did just that).  Because they can’t express what they feel in words, they make poor choices or rebel against authority.  All of which is a cry for attention, love, and acceptance. 

I wish I had all the answers but, the truth is, I feel like a total failure in this area.  It’s taken me years to overcome my own insecurities, fears, and poor self-worth that have led to poor choices in my own past. 

Without a doubt, it’s not easy to be a parent today, but with God’s help, guidance from His word, and letting go of our own need for acceptance from our children, it will allow us to make some of those tough choices (and, believe me, they are some of the toughest choices we’ll ever have to make).  In the end, we may not be perfect, but at least we tried and loved the way we knew how.  And that’s really all that matters isn’t it?

Love Always

There’s No Place Like Home


One of our favorite movies to watch growing up was, ‘The Wizard of Oz’.   Back then there were no pay-per-view services, Blockbuster video stores, or DVDs.  Nope, our favorite movies came on national TV once a year (Poseidon Adventure, The Ten Commandments, Planet of the Apes, etc.) and, if we missed it, we would have to wait a full year to watch it again.  No VCRs then either.

In many ways, I miss those days when the whole family came together to watch our favorite movie.  It brought us all together.  When watching the ‘Wizard of Oz’, Grandma would usually use Dorothy’s journey to the land of Oz as an opportunity to teach us a few life lessons (something I learned from her and drove our kids crazy with) about how the family is most important. 

We learned many other lessons from the movie of course.  Lessons like the importance of friends, overcoming evil with good, that having a heart is more than physical, fear isn’t a sign of a lack of courage, and that the glitter of the city can’t replace the love of a home in the middle of Kansas.

With today’s commercial video world, kids can watch the yellow brick road scene until their parents break the disk and grab a bottle of wine just to calm down.  There’s a constant need for more visual sensation and many of the life lessons are buried under a pile of DVDs.

With our families so divided by distance it becomes very difficult to enjoy those times when we can all come together just to watch a classic movie or simply play games.  Our family is no different with relatives in South Carolina, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri, Alaska, Washington, and California, the time that we are able to have together is limited to an annual plane trip (if we can afford it) instead of the annual movie on the television.

Some families seem miles apart even though they live down the road from each other.  It’s not the distance in miles that keeps them apart, but the walls built up by bitterness, misunderstandings, anger, selfishness, and pride.  Dorothy learned that, more than anything else, her family was what she cherished the most.  Sure, it’s just a movie and maybe a little bit cheesy, but it makes a good point; that, at the end of the day, there truly is no place like home.

There may not be a way for us to click our heels together and take us back to a time when we were all together (whether physically or emotionally), but we do have the ability to pick up the phone and make a call, post a note on Facebook, or send a ‘Just because’ card to let our loved ones know we’re thinking of them.  Whatever we do to help keep the family bond together, after everything is said-and-done and we look back on our life, it will be those things we remember.  So tonight here’s to the family because there truly is no place like home…

Love always