“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow me.”
Taking up our crosses in life is inevitable. We work so hard to avoid it. Human instinct is to flee from hardship. It’s natural to seek remedy for discomfort. Procrastination is common because no one enjoys doing difficult tasks. However, we are made to follow Christ and carry our crosses.
As a child, I was taught to see hardships as crosses. My mother helped me see the world through the eyes of God. I understood we had to bear pain; and we could see that pain as a cross to carry alongside Jesus. My parents wanted to help me learn, even from a young age, that casting your cross to the side only led to a heavier one.
As a kid, my crosses were things like schoolwork, patience with my siblings, and practicing soccer. It was the natural consequence of life that if I put off school, there would be more to do later. If I was rude to my younger siblings, we would all be miserable. When I did not practice sufficiently, I did worse in my soccer games. Choosing not to carry my small crosses made for bigger crosses.
The crosses we’re made for:
As adults, our crosses bear much more weight. My husband and I did not “intend” to get pregnant with our second child a mere seven months after having our first. We chose to embrace the cross of Natural Family Planning, and all the “risks” of openness to life. That choice came with a cross of it’s own- an unplanned pregnancy. The alternative, though, was the cross of contraception. Of destroying our unity and love while living outside God’s design for our bodies.
When we embraced the cross of an unplanned pregnancy, that cross came with a lot of burden. But casting it aside would have meant casting our baby girl aside. Feeling our cross of parenthood would have meant the cross of guilt and pain and destruction.
We do not choose our crosses. God chooses them. We merely decide whether to pick them up, or go find a different one. While it is tempting to want to do “my plan,” I know I’d much rather pick up the cross I was made for than try to carry a cross without Jesus by my side.