Irish playwright George Barnard Shaw (1856-1950) once said: “People become attached to their burdens sometimes more than the burdens are attached to them.” The truth is when we get so attached to doing everything the way we’ve always done it because of our handicaps, or so absorbed in only looking at things from one perspective because of our lack of exploring new ideas, it limits our growth and maturity. That means we’re holding on tight to excuses that keep us from doing new things, remaining in places we’re familiar with, and to things and the people present in our lives as we grew up, not knowing that all of our attachments will only bring us anguish, sorrow, and suffering. Many can’t seem to grasp the notion that you can love anything without becoming attached to everything.
In my university studies, I was introduced to the writings of the ancient Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tzu. In his work titled “Tao Te Ching,” he asked: Can you deal with the most vital matters by letting events take their course? Can you step back from your own biases in order to understand all things? If you can do that, says Lao Tzu, you give birth to new ideas to nourish them, things you can use without owning them, with no expectations, leading and not trying to control: this is the supreme virtue.1
This is a hard lesson for anyone to learn. But there are some good points about letting up and letting go of things that don’t give us excuses anymore to who we really are, where we need to be, what we should be, and what ought to be trying to do: First, being emotionally attached to your problems leads to cloudy decision making. You’re afraid to try, because it may make matters worse than better. You end up refusing opportunities because you’re afraid the problems you have may get in the way. It’s like a pastor who doesn’t want to offer counseling to couples having difficulty in their marriage because he too is having problems in the same area. He doesn’t realize that the best person to talk to is someone who’s been through, or going through, the same problem.
Secondly, being emotionally attached to your problems leads to unnecessary stress. What would you think of someone who is frustrated because they can’t get the job they want or become involved in some activity because they think that their physical, or mental or emotional status will result in their being turned down? Just think! How many contestants on “Dancing With the Stars” were told that because they were blind, deaf, had an artificial limb, or were overweight that they would not be accepted? Yet they were accepted because they applied. Listen to this. Army veteran J. R. Martinez, who sustained third-degree burns on 37 percent of his body, won the Mirrorball Trophy in Season 13 with his partner Karina Smirnoff. Also, Nyle DiMarco, a deaf model won the Mirrorball Trophy in Season 22 with partner Peta Murgatroyd.
Thirdly, being emotionally attached to your problems causes stunted growth in what you’re trying to do or trying to be. Shark Tank investor Barbra Corcoran also spoke openly about her dyslexia. “It made me more creative, more social and more competitive,” Corcoran said in an interview with Entrepreneur Magazine. “There’s great freedom to being dyslexic… if you can avoid labeling yourself as a loser in a school system that measures people by the As and Bs on their report card.” And double-amputee Paralympic Amy Purdy, who lost her legs to Meningitis at the age of 19, wowed the judges and audience members when partnered with five-time returning champion Derek Hough in Season 18.
Life is a process. We should enjoy the process. Not many people can change the way other people feel. However don’t let your own handicaps or problems get in the way of working together with your spouse, family, workmates, fellow churchgoers, or society in general, it makes life much more enjoyable. So take pride in the battle and grind as you work together to create better experiences for yourself and others. Help your family and friends by becoming more cooperative and make the process fun, for everyone.
The Bible is certainly not silent on this subject. In fact, there is a fabulous story about a young boy who was entrusted by his father to watch their flock of sheep while the older sons conducted other parts of the family business. But then a war broke out when one of their countries arch enemies decided to take over their land. They gathered in a valley between the two countries and it became a standoff because their enemy would parade out their champion warrior who was some nine feet tall and whose helmet, coat of armor, javelin, and shield all together weighed over 200 pounds.
Daily they taunted this boy’s king and army, which included three of his brothers. Their father got worried about them not having enough to eat, so he chose his young son to carry a basket filled with roasted grain, loaves of bread, and cheese to them. Since it was not too far from the village where they lived, this boy would make trips back and forth so he could still watch out for his father’s sheep. On one of these occasions, the boy arrived it looked like a battle was about to begin. So the boy left the basket with the one who kept such supplies and hurried up to the front to see what was happening.
It was at that moment that this champion of the enemy strode out and began to challenge and shame them for being cowards. This is the first time the boy heard such blasphemy against his people. So he turned to some of the soldiers around him and asked, “What would a person get for killing this pagan warrior who is defying the armies of God? Soon word got around about the young boy’s question, and when it reached the ears of his brothers, they got angry. They told him that he had no business being there. “Go back to your sheep,” they told him. We all know how much you brag about defending the sheep against some supposed lion and invisible bear. Get out of here!”
But when word reached the king, he had them bring the boy to him. He looked at the small lad because the king himself was quite tall. He asked the boy sarcastically how he expected to fight this giant when he wasn’t even trained as a soldier? David told him about the lion and the bear and the king felt like there wasn’t much to lose by sending the boy out to battle with the giant. He tried to dress the lad in his own armor, but the boy couldn’t move because the armor was too heavy.
So the boy went back over to where the giant was still ranting and raving. He looked around and found five smooth stones that fit nicely into his sling. Instead of being dissuaded by all the things his brother and others said, and in spite of being untrained and small of stature, he put his shoulders back as everyone on both sides watched as this tiny lad marched toward this huge giant. Their enemies started laughing while his brothers and other soldiers stood watching in horror. But with an accurate shot with his sling and a smooth stone he put it right between the giant’s eyes. This huge monster fell to the ground stunned. The boy quickly ran to the sprawling warrior, with all his might he pulled out the heavy sword, and with one fell swoop cut off the giant’s head. Pandemonium broke out with their enemies turning and fleeing from the scene while the soldiers on the boy’s side started running after them with a great shout.2
The victory was theirs! And all because a little boy refused to let his limitations of being young, untrained, inexperienced in war, whose only weapon was a sling, keep him from doing what he knew in his heart needed to be done. So you must decide whether you are going to be like his brothers and only watch what’s going on because you don’t think you have what it takes to get the job done. You are so hung up on your limitations that you’re afraid to try anything new? Or, do you have the heart of this boy, and in spite of what others think of you, you are still willing to try! – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 The Tao Te Ching was written by Lao-Tzu, translation by S. Mitchell, Chapter Ten
2 Read 1 Samuel, Chapter 17