Whose Burdens Do You Carry & Who Is Helping Carrying Yours?

The Citadel Recognition Day – Recognition Day begins much the way the first day of military training began for the knobs — with intense physical and mental challenges. Knobs awake well before the sun rises to start a series of seemingly endless exercises. They do push-ups, sit-ups, and run drills back and forth across Summerall’s field for hours. [NIKON D5, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 S + TC-2001, ISO 1100, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

While there’s no way to avoid sorrow, adversity, or distress in life, there are ways to help smooth the rough waters and regain a sense of control.

I was having lunch with Jon Franz and James Dockery at the Salt Factory Pub in Woodstock, GA [NIKON Z 9, 35mm f/1.4G, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 8000, 1/500, ƒ/1.4, (35mm = 35)]

Connecting with friends and family during tough times can help ease stress, boost your mood, and make sense of all the change and disruption. Instead of feeling like you’re facing your problems alone, you can draw strength and build resilience from having others to lean on.

Even though relationships are vital for good mental health, building resilience, and getting through tough times, many of us feel that we don’t have anyone to turn to in times of need. But there are plenty of ways to build new friendships and improve your support network. If you know others who are lonely or isolated, be the one to take the initiative and reach out.

Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:

10 If either of them falls down,

    one can help the other up.

But pity anyone who falls

    and has no one to help them up.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Studies have shown a correlation between physical well-being and your social circle. Good friends are clinically proven to improve your mental well-being and physical health. Keeping a good friendship circle can also encourage avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits.

Bill Bangham and Stanley Leary at the University of Nations campus located in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii [COOLPIX P7000, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 153, 1/250, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 28)]

A smaller inner circle means you can invest time in your relationships with your close friends.

I have found that many of us might have a small circle of friends, but do you get together with that small group? I found my work and personal life much more enriched when I would find my small group and listen to them.

“A small team of A-plus players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”

Steve Jobs
Bill Bangham, Gary & Vivian Chapman, and Ken Touchton at the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar 40th Anniversary. [COOLPIX P7000, , Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 1600, 1/10, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 28)]

What I have found strange is that my faith has taught me this for a long time, but I never really found a small circle within any church that I belonged like I did when I saw a group of Christian Photojournalists. While this was my first real connection, I learned I could invite people into this group who were photographers but not necessarily like-minded in faith.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2

When I was younger, I went to the small circle of like-minded photojournalists to draw from the well they had created. Forty years later, I find that I am meeting an even deeper need than I have always had by taking a more active role in listening and helping others in the group. I always wanted to feel like I had a purpose.

John White poses with a participant at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. [NIKON D2X, Sigma 18-50mm F2.8 EX DC, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 400, 1/15, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 27)]

It is a hard pill to swallow for some of us because the idea of having lots of friends feels…comforting. I am here to tell you that it is not. You have to understand that every person in your life is not there to support you.

When a person genuinely cares, your troubles almost become theirs and vice versa. When having real friendships, you tend to work through things together—taking in and putting out the same energy of love and respect for one another.

Bob Black, John White, Bill Fortney, and Stanley Leary at the Southwestern Photojournalism Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. [NIKON D2X, Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro, Mode = Aperture Priority, ISO 800, 1/80, ƒ/2.8, (35mm = 36)]

Your true circle of friends should not sugarcoat the truth from you. That’s not being a good friend. They are there to tell you the hard and gritty truth about yourself when you are in doubt or when you’re being a straight jerk. You need people in your circle for these times to bring you back to reality when you think your head is getting too big. They’ll snap you back quickly. A true friend is also there to remind you of the magical person you are when you tend to forget under pressure.