Embrace your cross

I’ve really been struggling lately to feel connected to the Lord. Last night I was at a CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) meeting and the woman who was practicing her witness spoke about her struggles and how she denied her cross for a very long time, choosing anger toward God instead of embracing the pain and sacrifice. She used a couple Bible verses to make her point. One of them was:

“Then Jesus told His disciples, ‘If any of you wants to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24

This is a very familiar verse for me. And last night I kind of brushed it off and just went on with my evening. But I’ve been thinking about it today and something different than normal stuck out to me. Usually when I see this verse I immediately jump to my discernment and the initial call. I focus in on the following Jesus part. But today I honed in on the italicized parts above. I started thinking about where my desire is, if I even really want to follow Jesus. I was reading some old emails that I had written to a couple different vocation directors for different orders and that desire for the Lord was rekindled. Not that I ever really stopped desiring the Lord, but I had forgotten what it felt like.

The second italicized part hit me a little harder. Particularly relating to my CRHP sister’s witness. As you know, I am planning on entering the T.O.R.s in August of 2015. As time has passed since my acceptance I’ve been really struggling with the whole idea. Not because I don’t want it, but because of all the things I will be leaving behind. I have been dwelling on the goodbyes I will have to say and the distance which will happen between my family and friends and myself. I’ve been thinking about how I will have to cut my hair and leave almost all of my clothes behind. I’ve been trying to figure out which rosary I will bring with me and which religious article I will choose to take. My spiritual director has advised me to start working in the Liturgy of the Hours into my schedule as well as the rosary and the mercy chaplet to start getting into the rhythm of prayer. All of these things are meant to prepare me for entrance. And I do need to process leaving my family and friends behind as well as my belongings because it is a huge part of this choice. However, I think I am missing some or most of the point to what I am doing.

“For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

I’ve been focusing on myself and thinking about the life I could have if I chose not to enter. I’ve been trying to prevent all of this hurt that I’m going through in trying to detach myself from my family and friends. Instead of taking up my cross I’ve been trying to throw it across the room. I’ve been trying to save my life instead of giving it up for the Lord like I had originally committed to.

It’s much easier in these situations to dwell in the pain and the doubt and confusion. The devil is working really hard on me to make me question my path and cling to my life the way it is. And I’ve been letting him win. I’ve been choosing selfish things rather than offering my pain and sacrifice up to the Lord. It’s time to realize that even though this hurts it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision. I need to pick up my cross instead of dragging it behind me. The thing I keep forgetting is that when I choose to embrace the cross the Lord has given me, He will help me carry it. The cross becomes significantly lighter when we embrace it and ask the Lord to help us bear the weight. It’s time for me to stop trying to do this on my own and let the Lord be my Savior.

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