We are all in need of allies.
To be an ally requires sacrifice, thoughtfulness, awareness, intention.
To have an ally – what does that require? Humility enough to ask for the help, I suspect. Willingness to match our pace to the one we’ve asked to walk with us, perhaps. Ability to recognize our own need for such, a certainty.
In the world of nations just now, the United States needs Turkey as an ally, but it is not at all clear whether Turkey needs the United States.
And to be an ally always seems to involve a cost-benefit analysis, at least in the world of nations.
But what of the world of individual relationships?
Where then is the cost? Is it fair, right, appropriate, to count the cost?
Well, Jesus tells those who would follow him to count the cost before taking even the first step – his point being, as I would gather, that there is always a cost.
Knowing, then, that there is a cost to the other in walking alongside, in being an ally, how can I ask anyone to take on such a role for me? Is it ‘fair’ to ask for help knowing in advance that the help will be costly to the other?
But are we not made to walk in tandem? To help as, where and when we can?
Bonhoeffer speaks of Christian fellowship as burden bearing.
That rings so true to me. It also rings true that all of we Christians – not just the professionals among us – are to be burden bearers, each with the other.
Does this change my understanding of burden bearing? Perhaps. Perhaps it is just taking turns the way we did when we were kids. Sometimes I’ll follow you, sometimes you’ll follow me. Sometimes I’ll help you and sometimes you’ll help me.
But allies do more than simply help or provide succor. Allies are advocates of a sort – the ones who do not stand silently by when bad stuff comes to town. Allies walk alongside, provide practical aid, raise their voices in protest.
There, surely, is the greater cost, given the great resistance of humankind to such activity in all but the rarest of occasions.
Which brings us back to the beginning – allies – where to find them? How to ask them? How to be one? If these were easy questions, one suspects, there wouldn’t be much need for allies in the first place.
So I am left to wonder – who have been your allies? Did you ask them for help or did they merely appear at the needed time? Have you been an ally? How did you know you were needed? What prompted you to act this time when you had not, perhaps, acted before? What did it cost you to be an ally? What did you gain from having an ally?
Those are the questions I’m asking today.