A common expression of older people in conversation i,s “I want to live as long as I can be independent, but I never want to be a burden.” One of our most respected Christian writers has caused me to think more deeply about this subject.
John Stott, in his last book entitled, “A Radical Disciple,” has chosen dependence as a
component of discipleship that is modeled by Our Lord Jesus Christ. Stott says, “You are designed to be a burden to me and I am designed to be a burden to you.”
I have often said to people who resist help, “you are not designed to make it on
your own,” attempting to promote the concept of community. To take dependence to
a place of dignity is a deeper challenge. Stott reminds us that Jesus was born a dependent baby and died on a cross, unable to move; yet he never loses his dignity. Stott then concludes that if dependence was appropriate for God, in the person of Jesus, it is certainly appropriate for us.
I wonder how embracing this view would affect our fear of becoming dependent or of
becoming the caretaker of someone who is dependent. Could we stop lamenting, interrupt our repetitive apologies and risk thinking the burden we bring may actually be a blessing? The idea is like a salmon swimming upstream, but it has a captivating ring of truth
that makes me want to risk looking for it in my responses to people today.
What have you learned about dependence? How can we give dignity to a dependent person? How can we grant dignity to our dependent selves?