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Embracing Your Own Cross

“If we all threw our crosses in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.”

Recently, I was having a discussion with a group of women, inspired by the quote above.  Like many conversations do, it opened up into quite an interesting realization.  We womenfolk are quite insightful.

My friends were lamenting their struggles.  Problems that you pray about, and cry over… often very privately.  Problems that resonate in our bones so deeply.  Major burdens that are very much out of our control.

Heavy burdens:  infertility, marriage struggles, financial troubles, health concerns.

We discovered we’re often afraid to talk about them out loud, out of fear that a well-intentioned-friend would offer simple advice without knowledge of the weight of that burden.  Simple, innocent suggestions can so often feel like these friends are jumping right on the cross you’re carrying.  These weren’t simple little lifestyle choices that had daily stressful moments.   It’s so easy to offer a trite “Oh, have you tried oxyclean?” and expect a happy face emoticon and the problem was solved.

No, these are a much heavier kind of burden, not a simple complaint that may have solutions and compromises and ways to get around with a problem-solving exercise.

After a while we learn how to cope with these types of situations.  You learn how to kindly reply, “Thanks for that suggestion!”, smile, and change the subject.  You become thick-skinned to the pain.  Oh, it hurts, but eventually the callous builds and you’re able to survive through the suffering.

So, what if we actually could all throw our own crosses into a pile and pick up a different one?  Would you?

Would you trade in your large family for the pain of infertility?

Would you trade in your gloriously faith-filled husband for a marriage with underlying emotional abuse or conflicting faiths?

Would you trade in your suitable home for one half the size, with underlying rot, sparky breaker box, and leaking roof?

Would you trade your frugal, but sustainable, income for the struggles of unemployment, foreclosure, and bankruptcy?

Would you trade in your random allergy attacks and annual sinus infections for a child or spouse with a serious acute disease?

 

When you stop to think about the crosses you are given, and dwell on them, they weigh us down into the depths of depression.

When you stop to think about the crosses you have NOT been given, in comparison – they are incomprehensible.  These moments start to bring appreciation for the problems we have in life.  Our crosses become something we CLING to with THANKSGIVING.

THANK YOU, GOD for giving me THIS cross.  
It is VERY heavy, but I have already seen you help me cope and survive through it’s struggles.
I TRUST that You will allow me to learn, through this suffering, how to bring others to You.

While these burdens may be very, very challenging at times, God is using them to bring us closer to Him.

He’s asking us to trust Him, during our darkest hours.

 

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About Emily

Emily is a cradle Catholic, wife of over 12 years to her hilarious husband, and a mother of 4 kids. Emily loves all things Catholic and stays busy volunteering at her children's Catholic School and parish. She also works full time as an Electrical Design Engineer.

  • Mary B. - So, so true. I also think that God gives us graces and strength specific to our own unique crosses and burdens. For instance, I simply do not possess the emotional strength needed to maintain hope in the face of infertility, a cross that I fortunately do not bear. Yet when my husband lost his job when I was 7 months pregnant, and our family had to survive for the next year on what he made waiting tables at a local resturaunt, I found myself abundantly blessed with faith and fortitude. The financial instability was a terrible cross to bear, but God gave me the grace to carry it at exactly the time I needed it.April 18, 2013 – 7:49 amReplyCancel

  • Colleen - Wow, this is awesome. So thought-provoking! I have to chuckle at the Oxyclean since it has been my pal a lot lately… but you’re so right, black jellybean sheets are NOTHING. Nothing at all compared to the real sufferings people have. A good reminder to be thankful for our blessings.April 18, 2013 – 8:23 amReplyCancel

  • Cassie - This is very true! However, I do know there are those out there with multiple, very heavy crosses. If comparing your cross or crosses only seems to add weight to the burden, try to think of the blessings that help carry that cross.

    I have a very dear friend who has struggled with liver disease, multiple miscarriages, misdiagnosis, and treatment delays. She has recently been diagnosed with liver cancer. Through these struggles though, God has brought her to one of the best hospitals in the country and is working toward a living donor liver transplant. She has family and friends supporting her every step of the way, and multiple people willing to literally give a piece of themselves to help her body heal.

    When the darkness seems to be closing in, I hope that those struggling can still see the light that guides us even in the night.April 18, 2013 – 11:57 amReplyCancel

  • Jenna@CallHerHappy - Love this and I totally agree.

    Just to add on: I think it is also important for all of us to remember that someone else’s cross might seem small or petty to us, but God only gives a person what she can handle. So, what is small to us might be a real struggle for the person dealing with it.

    I have to remember this all the time. I never want to say to someone, “Well, it could be worse!” Yes, it could. But, God is not calling that person to worse.April 18, 2013 – 10:16 pmReplyCancel

  • Allison - Oh Lord, forgive my cynicism and remind me of the ending prayer of this post.

    Very special and insightful, Emily. Thank you!April 19, 2013 – 10:38 pmReplyCancel

  • JoAnn Flynn - Thank you, I needed that. JoAnn FlynnApril 20, 2013 – 2:00 amReplyCancel

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