The Burden Borne
“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” – Luke 9:23
I must admit, I stumbled over today’s reading. To be honest, I was filled with fear. I am a former people pleaser in recovery. I will always have the temptation to slip back down that people pleasing vortex – and this scares the heck out of me. So I am very careful. And I therefore struggled with Luke 9:23 and the idea of taking up a cross each day. I imagined myself as I used to be, bent over with the weight of carrying burdens that were never mine to bear in the first place. Never again is the promise I have made to myself. Yet I do want to be faithful to this Lenten journey, so I opened my mind and allowed today’s bible verse to ruminate in my mind and heart.
This is what I have discovered.
I contemplated Jesus and the way in which He carried his cross on a daily basis. He was no push over. He was very adept at establishing boundaries. And He was described as being quite a commanding figure. So what does carrying one’s cross really mean?
Well, Jesus spoke His truth, and remained faithful to who He was called to be, to the end. When it would have been easier to water himself down, He refused. He would not be swayed by the expectations and comfort of others – even of His closest friends. He was who He was. So, maybe carrying my cross means I live my own truth, despite any societal pressure to be something else. Of course this does not mean living selfishly and inconsiderately. I should live to be the best self I can be. I want to be a beautiful reflection of a life lived to please God. And I should press on with this, even when it is hard. Even when the bitter seed of hurt and distrust threatens to make me cranky. Even when others are not treating me as nicely as I think they should. Carrying my cross would mean to faithfully approach each day positively, peacefully and grounded in a healthy love for others and myself as well.
This is where I am at right now, on this second day of Lent.