(photo from http://www.uulyrics.com/)
Bill Withers nailed it. Number 205 on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It was his first and only Number 1 hit, recorded in 1972. We have even played it at church before, not because of the catchy little riffs, but because of the message. Here's the lyrics if you don't remember them, written by Bill Withers.
"Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow. But if we are wise we know that there's always tomorrow.
Lean on me when you're not strong and I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on. For it won't be long till I'm gonna need somebody to lean on.
Please swallow your pride if I have things you need to borrow. For no one can fill those of your needs that you don't let show.
If there is a load you have to bear that you can't carry, I'm right up the road, I'll share your load if you just call me.
So just call on me brother when you need a hand, we all need somebody to lean on. I just might have a problem that you understand. We all need somebody to lean on.
Lean on me when you're not strong and I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on. For it won't be long till I'm gonna need somebody to lean on."
Ok, confession time...how many of us have more than 10 people that we really lean on? Who know you at your absolute worst and love you anyhow? Now, how many of those are outside our families? Good friends? For me, I might have 10 outside the family that I trust enough to let them see me at my weakest, but I'm pretty sure it's not more than 10.
Paul talks about this some in 2 Corinthians. He says this: "For when we came into Macedonia, this body of ours had no rest, but we were harrassed at every turn - conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus..."
We don't realize the impact we have on the folks around us by either, being there when they need someone, or by turning away when they need someone. Both leave huge impressions. I have lots of friends, and most of them I know I could go to with just about anything. However, there are only 3 or 4 people outside my family, that I could go to with absolutely anything. They have seen me furious, stomping and cussing (hey, cut me some slack, I wasn't always a preacher, and still, if I hit my finger with a hammer...just saying), they have held me while I cried, and the whole while without judging me. I admit, it's a very small inner circle, but I do have one.
I think that what Paul is hitting on here is actually both sides of the coin. We need those people in our lives that we know we can lean on, no matter what. But at the same time, we need to be able to allow ourselves to do the leaning. For me, that is the tough part. It's easy for me to be the one that folks lean on, I've been trained for that. It's not so easy to let go and do the leaning myself. "Please swallow your pride if I have things you need to borrow. For no one can fill those of your needs that you won't let show."
Yeah, I said it...it boils down to pride. Distrust does figure into that, but even that might be born out of pride. I know that's the excuse I use. For me, I don't fully trust folks until they make the inner circle, but I know it's just an excuse.
The bottom line is this...life deals us a bunch of junk sometimes. But at the same time, just as Titus did for Paul and the others, there are folks in our lives that can make the difference if we allow ourselves to lean on them. So, if there's a load you have to bear, that you can't carry, I'm right up the road, I'll share your load if you just call me.