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Leaf Pattern Design

How to Bear the Cross You've Been Given With Strength and Grace

Updated: Mar 12




Might one of these be your cross?


  • The cross I carry is one of neglect.


  • The cross I carry is a learning challenge.


  • The cross I carry is being alone.


  • The cross I carry is not having children.


  • The cross I carry is drug addition.


  • The cross I carry is chronic pain.


Do you know what cross you’re called to bear?


My decision to examine the bearing of a cross began with feeling constantly plagued with the same scenarios throughout my existence. Certain elements have decided to become a mainstay in my life. Repeated accounts which have aided in fabricating the human being I am today. From the way I think, the choices I make, to the worldviews I have taken. God told me, “This is your cross”.


From the writings of Apostle Paul, I have learned everyone has a particular overbearing cross to carry. It does not matter whether you have come to identify it or not. A cross is what most of our ongoing problems and struggles evolve around. Since we are all called to carry these troublesome crosses, there must be a skillful way to do so. This brought me to the most awesome Cross Bearer this world has ever encountered. One whose cross bearing resulted in the saving of everyone who would avail. Jesus Christ, Himself.


Whether you are a Christian or not, most of us are familiar with the images of seeing Jesus Christ heaving a large wooden cross through the crowded city of Jerusalem. A cross that would bear His own body unto death. This mammoth of a cross would come to be carried by someone who experienced an onset of brutality without rest up to the very moment of this profound voyage. This treacherous journey was less than half of a mile long, but holds great importance as it relates to our entire span of life.


 

I want to take this opportunity to reflect over this one pivotal segment of Christ’s time on earth. Let’s review this course Jesus took from the palace of Pontius Pilate to Golgotha, and equate it to our own course of life. From the beginning, this trek to what was deemed as the Place of the Skull was going to be a difficult one. From the start, Jesus seemed to be at a disadvantage due to being barbarically flogged and whipped by solders prior to being given a heavy wooden cross to carry (John 19:1, Amplified Bible). Immediately transferring to our own life’s story, how many believe you started your cross bearing journey at a disadvantage? Maybe your learning challenge was not discovered until you were well through middle school. Prior to that, you had been called names. Some teachers considered you lazy. What about those who had a life time of being neglected. You possibly had parents who were bogged down with their own problems and did not know how to tend to you emotionally. It wasn’t until your mid thirties you began to understand about codependency, but before then you spent most of your life living victimized. How about those of you who spent decades haunted by drug and alcohol addictions before taking a vow of sobriety. Now, stop and take notice! In correlation to Christ, you had not even begun to carry your cross just yet. You did not shoulder your cross at the start of your life, nor at the start of the problem. The start was when the situation became identifiable to you. Selah. Let’s continue on with Jesus.


Another vicious gesture was done to Jesus prior to carrying the cross. He was given a crown of thorns to wear (John 19:2, Amplified Bible). These thorns were strategically placed around His head, closest to the brain. The brain handles the largest region of pathways for detecting pain (Yang & Chang, 2019). Placing the thorns nearest to the brain was sure to emit immense agony during His walk. Certainly, it would inhibit His ability to focus on the task at hand. His sight would become impeded by the flow of blood from His head wounds. This crown of thorns was chosen to remind Jesus of the choice He made to be our Savior. As cross bearers, we carry mental burdens. It could be the mental burdens of early memories. The overwhelming regret of past decisions. Intense shame and guilt which can make the task of carrying a cross more arduous. It all seems a bit unfair. Well, consider someone being crucified after no guilt was even found (John 19:6 Amplified Bible).


 

Jesus’ terribly afflicted body was forced to push through the crowded, uneven, stony paths of Jerusalem towing a mammoth cross. A cross constructed to hold his own body weight upright, revealing the oppressiveness of this structure. He was repeatedly spat on and struck while viciously being ridicule by the mob throughout this passage (Matthew 27:29-30 Amplified Bible). Taking the opportunity to find parallelism to our own personal cross, we often see our own burdens as massive. You may even have moments where you feel more people are against you than for you. Instances where you question whether you can handle this task. You may find yourself stumbling in agony, grieving over inflicted wounds brought on by these burdens. Hurt that subsided long enough for you to move forward until they reopen to reveal themselves to you again. You just want to drop everything and give up. Well, just as Jesus stumbled throughout the trip to Golgotha losing blood from numerous bodily wounds and continuously being struck on the head, Simon of Cyrene is seized by the soldiers to assist. Simon was instructed to aid Jesus in carrying the cross behind Him (Luke 23:26, Amplified Bible). Despite His afflictions, Jesus was not allowed to end His journey just yet.


It is important for us to recognize the supporters in the crowd during this time of Jesus’ journey. Not only was help summoned by Simon of Cyrene, but a large crowd followed Jesus to Golgotha mourning and wailing over the extremities placed upon Him (Luke 23:27, Amplified Bible). God always surrounds us with support we need to carry our cross. I would like for you to take time to recognize those who are in support of you. Whether friends, family, counselors, colleagues, life coaches, doctors, mentors, teammates, Alcoholics Anonymous, walking groups, support groups, or Bible study groups there is support out there. If you don’t have anyone, then begin to create a supportive team for yourself. God never meant for you to be without support, however remember it is primarily your cross to carry. Simon of Cyrene was astutely a part of Jesus journey momentarily, to show the need for the support of others. However, Jesus had to finish the remainder of the journey on His own.


Jesus knew there was great victory in taking this path, as opposed to not taking it at all. Jesus was not wondering what was going to become of Himself after dying on the cross. He knew! Jesus knew He was walking in victory upon His very first step from the palace of Pontius Pilate. Interestingly enough, many refuse to take that first step of bearing their own cross or even identifying it. Those tough starts seem to immobilize many. It would seem easier to simply ignore or just not deal with the issue at hand. Wishing for it all to work itself out on it’s own. However, your particular burden comes with a purpose which will always direct you inward allowing for self introspection. Drawing the need for Christ and His divine intervention. He provides this in so many ways. Ways that will not bring hurt or harm to yourself and others, but provide strength and wisdom to you in order to move forward.


 

God calls us to be intentional on this cross bearing journey. Many times we become so focused on the outcome of a difficult situation, than being present and mindful while going through. We must gain all there is along our voyage, which can help lessen the arduousness of the cross we must bear. That inner work I mentioned earlier, here is a starting point. While on this path, be sure to recognize if you are operating in self pity. One valuable lesson I learned is how self pity can become a person’s greatest weakness. Jesus turned away from self pity when speaking to the mourners, instead He advised them to concentrate on their own journey (Luke 23:28-31, Amplified Bible). This journey will also try your forgiveness muscles, while working through those areas of resentment as well. While on the cross, Jesus did not pray for the Father to take revenge on the evil scoffers. Instead, Jesus asked for those who have wronged Him to be forgiven (Luke 23:34, Amplified Bible). Include yourself amongst those to whom you extend forgiveness. Practice forgiving yourself of all past, present, and future offenses.


Each of us are on different stages of our journey. Allow yourself not to fall into a place of comparison. Each person’s passage will be different. When we begin to judge a person’s journey it lessens our ability to become empathetic. It stiffens our perspective, preventing the giving of mercy and compassion during times of need. Two criminals were crucified with Jesus, while on the cross one asked Jesus if he could be brought into the Kingdom of Heaven. Despite His suffering, Jesus extended mercy to the man assuring his entry into the Kingdom (Luke 23:42-43, Amplified Bible). Your journey is not about self preservation, it about preserving the souls of others through Christ Jesus. Maintaining your sense of compassion is important. A world without compassion is simply cold. Full of dehumanizing attributes. You must also extend compassion to yourself as well. Self compassion is very different from self pity. Self compassion seeks to be kind and loving to oneself without becoming self consumed. Whereas, self pity is more destructive where it causes one to get caught up in the unfairness of life, in constant search of blame outside of self (Neff, 2024; Winsa, 2021). Self pity deflects from self observation which halts growth, and we should always be striving for personal growth.


Also, take heed of how Jesus did not respond directly to the crowd of mockers, not even the scoffing criminal hanging on the cross next to Him. The lesson here is not to waste energy on the naysayers, instead draw your attention to your supporters. Focus only on your area of control and influence. Some of those voices may even be your own. The power of our own self defeating talk can be as thunderous as the voice of a person physically sitting next to you. Capture those thoughts, then reframe them with reasonable truths that put you in the driver’s seat, not the back seat. Lastly, don’t be so quick to get rid of your cross. Most are meant to be carried life long, not in dread but victoriously throughout.


If you have not taken the time to identify your cross, I invite you to do so. Jesus said, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24, English Standard Version, Ed. 2016). One hindrance in identifying one’s cross is allowing yourself to be rooted in perfectionism. Another possibility may be the decision to numb yourself to an ongoing struggle or burden. Maybe you see bearing a cross as admittance of weakness. It is possible that pride is blocking your direct sight to the cross. The Apostle Paul taught on the importance of our burdens to help in maintaining humility (2 Corinthians 12, Amplified Bible). I have found the bearing of my cross has actually strengthened me in more ways than I could imagine. It has given me something to work on and a way of connecting with others.


Your specific cross which you have been called to carry is not given to hold you back, but to thrust you forward. The cross Jesus bore, was nailed to, and died on could not hold Him not even in death. Christ rose from the dead three days later defeating death on the cross for all to see (Luke 24:1-12, Amplified Bible). That victory was not for Himself but for us all. He took the punishment of death for us all, in exchange for our right to spend eternity with the Lord God. The acceptance of what Christ has done allows us to be seen as righteous in God’s eyes. The Cross of Jesus Christ is meant to remove the shame and guilt this life can bring. Find your purpose in the Cross.


The Amplified Bible

Hebrews 12:2


”[looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross, disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work].“



This featured writing references the awareness of everyone having a 'cross' to bear. Do you know what specific burden or struggle you have been called to carry?

  • Yes, I am aware of the cross I must bear

  • No, I do not have a cross to bear

  • I am unable to determine exactly what my cross is









References:


Neff, K., (2024). Self compassion. Self Compassion, Kristin Neff. Retrieved from https://self-compassion.org/what-self-compassion-is-not-2/


Winsa, J., (2021, July 30). Life philosophy: The vital difference between self-pity and self-compassion, and why we need more of the latter. Medium. Retrieved from https://medium.com/know-thyself-heal-thyself/the-vital-difference-between-self-pity-and-self-compassion-and-why-we-need-more-of-the-latter-fc8fa2cdd7d


Yang, S., & Chang, M. C. (2019). Chronic Pain: Structural and Functional Changes in Brain Structures and Associated Negative Affective States. International journal of molecular sciences, 20(13), 3130. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20133130





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