Recently I was walking in the woods and a new awareness and understanding struck me. That’s what it feels like sometimes, like I’ve just experienced a tiny lightning strike and then I am left with a whole new perspective about something.
It amazes me every time. A lightning bolt of revelation lands inside of me and once my insides have stopped smoking, I am left with clarity and peace. I am not the same person that I was before. I am changed. I experience God moving in me.
The words that flashed through my heart and mind were, “pick up your cross”. I have read, heard and said these words countless times. This time, the word that really caught my attention and drew me was “your”. “Pick up YOUR cross”. Jesus wasn’t saying that people needed to pick up every cross to follow him. Instead, he was saying that we each have things that we need to live with, heal from, sacrifice or surrender. Each of these are unique to every individual.
- Jesus was saying that we each need to pick up our own cross(es) and that’s it!
- We are not called to pick up the crosses of others nor are we called to pick up crosses that don’t belong to us.
- For those of us who are overly responsible, trying to pick up someone else’s cross or one that doesn’t belong to us can seem to happen naturally.
- For those of us who would rather not look at our own crosses, we may gravitate to the crosses of others.
- We may want to “help” someone that we love.
- We may think that some things are ours to pick up when they’re not.
- We will fall under the weight of crosses that we were never meant to bare.
For the first three decades of my life, I lived with chronic guilt and don’t remember hearing about prioritizing or taking care of myself. I had mastered the art of people-pleasing and there was an enduring depletion due to giving my best to everyone and everything else. I never even knew it was an option to keep some for myself.
The first time I heard a self-care message, it felt foreign, uncomfortable and wrong. It completely challenged my engrained beliefs and training. My job was to look and act like others wanted me to, perform in the appropriate ways and run myself ragged in the process, right?
I have needed a lot of time and support to change my behaviors, but more importantly my thoughts, feelings, beliefs and how I view my identity had to be updated. Therapists, coaches, support groups, seminars, workshops, professional training, loving family members, loyal friends and many others along the way have been integral to my recovery. There is NO WAY I could journey this path alone, nor would I want to.
I have spent lots of time, energy, money and shed countless tears along the way and it has been completely worth it!
It has usually felt like baby steps, but here I am 11.5 years later living an almost completely unrecognizable life (in the best way possible).
Sometimes I default and try to pick up a “cross” that’s not meant for me and that’s ok. I’m human and that happens sometimes. Attempting to take up a cross that doesn’t belong to me, is my way, not God’s.
Thankfully the healthy, recovery voice I hear inside of and all around me, which I know is God’s voice, is louder and speaks frequently to me these days.
Jesus never meant for me to pick up ALL the crosses like I mistakenly thought, just the ones with my name on them. 😊
NLT: Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily and follow me.”
MSG: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat – I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.”