Endurance, Seasonal Reflections, When life is Hard

How to Embrace Your Cross – 2 Practical Steps

embrace-your-cross

I got an email this morning inviting me to see my Interruptions as Opportunities, specifically opportunities to live every moment for God’s glory.  This is difficult for me as I feel that motherhood is a constant stream of interruptions.  And if there is one thing I hate… it is being interrupted.

I joke with my husband that never again will any of my trains of thought ever “make it to the station”, they will somehow just evaporate into oblivion or crash into the giant zone of forgetfulness like they do in the movie “Inside Out”. My life is a series of unfinished projects and lost puzzle pieces. I forget what I am saying mid-sentence most of the time because my brain has become they typical mush that most mother’s experience around this time in their child raising careers.

And I am tired…

But, sometimes I wonder if my exhaustion comes from fighting so hard against something I am meant to embrace.

Is it even possible to Embrace your Cross?

We all have crosses. We all suffer. Matthew 16:24 exhorts: “Take up your cross…” and yet our tendency is to want to run from that which causes us pain, to fight it, to escape it, to avoid it.

It seems paradoxical to think of finding joy in the midst of so much pain, but it is possible.

This is how we fall in Love with our crosses and learn to embrace them.

But, what does it mean and how do we do it?

What does it mean to Embrace your Cross?

You might be excited to learn that embracing your cross has nothing to do with feelings! I am not going to ask you to all of a sudden get really excited that you will be interrupted for the rest of your life. Nor will I ask you to love the fact that your mom has cancer, that your marriage is strained (or estranged), or that your child is special needs.

Nope.

Feelings cannot be commanded. They cannot even be controlled.

But, they do not need to determine our future.

Embrace your Cross – a 2 part process:

Part 1 – Acceptance (A perspective change)

The first step toward embracing your crosses is acceptance.

What is Acceptance? A simple recognition of the fact that regardless of whether or not I choose to embrace my cross, it will still be there.

I’m not asking you to LIKE it… but, once you realize that suffering is an integral part of life, no matter what you do to avoid it, you run out of reasons to continue fighting it… and, only when there is a break in the war is there a chance for peace.

[tweetshare tweet=”Only when there is a break in the war is there a chance for peace.” username=”CarolynMPereira”]

By accepting that they are an inevitable part of our reality, instead of expending all our energy trying to run away we can use some of that energy to figure out how best to approach the situation.

Part 2 – Action

This is the point where you learn to build your life around your cross rather than attempting to mold your cross to the life you think you want to have.

Embrace your Cross Quotes

[tweetshareinline tweet=”Build your life around your cross rather than attempting to mold your cross to the life you think you want to have.” username=”CarolynMPereira”]

For the first few years of motherhood I struggled desperately with feeding everyone. I hated figuring out what to feed them, getting it ready while everyone cried about how I couldn’t get it done fast enough, and listening to them complain about it once I served it.

I loathed the idea of dinner time (and snack time, and breakfast time, and lunch time) so much so that for 6 years I tried to do everything but think about food. However, this ineveitably lead to even worse meal time experiences because I was never prepared for the onslaught of needy children. Finally, I decided I couldn’t take it any more and I began to embrace meal planning and food preparation. Surprisingly, despite having to think about the next meal more often than I would have liked, the meal time chaos was reduced from running our lives to almost non-existence.

Take Specific Steps to Embrace your Cross (Meet the challenge head on)

No matter your cross, you can probably think of ways to stop running from it and meet the challenge head on.  If none come to mind immediately, I challenge you to ponder this thought beyond this moment. Think about it for a few hours.  If your challenge is your health, maybe you need to consider dietary changes.  If you are crippled in some way, instead of thinking about all the things you can’t do, think about what you can do in your position. If you are going through bad relationships, think about what you have learned / are learning, how you have grown and what you want to do in the future to improve or avoid similar situations.

Leave Behind the Whining and Complaining

This is a MAJOR active part of embracing your cross. It is the simplest and most obvious one, but extremely difficult for most people.

Please note however, that there is a big difference between whining and complaining, to everyone you see – “Oh, woe is me…” – and genuine explanations of a situation where it is warranted, such as for counseling purposes.

Whining changes nothing. Complaints resolve nothing. They don’t even make us feel better really. In the end they only make us focus on the parts of the cross that we hate the most, making them seem bigger and more disagreeable than they really are.

Attempt to find the “silver lining”, look for potential positives.  If you cannot find them, trust and have patience.  Wait for hindsight to become 20/20.

Embrace your Cross Quotes

Read Also: 4 Obstacles to Trusting God and How to Overcome Them

Why should you bother making the effort to Embrace your Cross?

Remember how I said embracing your cross didn’t have anything to do with feelings? That part when you had a little internal party realizing that you didn’t have to like your cross?

Well, one of the best results of choosing to embrace your cross, is that the feelings usually follow.

Accepting and facing your crosses makes them suddenly seem less heavy and give you a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Not to mention, it almost always takes away the negativity that generally taints our view of our crosses and makes them feel lighter, if not altogether conquered. It’s pretty exciting.

In the words of Catholic Pope and great philosopher Joseph Ratzinger:

…Anyone who has inwardly accepted suffering becomes more mature and more understanding of others, becomes more human. Anyone who has consistently avoided suffering does not understand other people. He becomes hard and selfish. If we say that suffering is the inner side of love, we then also understand why it is so important to learn how to suffer and why, conversely, the avoidance of suffering renders someone unfit to cope with life. He would be left with an existential emptiness which could then only be combined with bitterness, with rejection and no longer with any inner acceptance or progress toward maturity. (March 29, 2014)

embrace the cross

If crosses are so great, should we seek them out?

The short answer is, NO.

Embrace your Cross Quotes

There are some people who justify wrong decisions by saying, “Because it’s hard, it must be right.”  Yes, we must accept the consequences of our actions, but that doesn’t mean that one mistake, such as becoming pregnant out of wedlock, should be combined with a worse mistake, such as terminating the pregnancy or marrying the father out of guilt or an attempt to “legitimize” the child.

There will always be crosses in every calling. We don’t need to make choices that hurt us in order to “ensure that we have enough”, or believe that painful choices must necessarily be “God’s will” just because they contain crosses.

God actually wants us to be happy. Yes, your calling will be both your cross and your joy, but in a calling, the crosses are especially designed gifts from God to help us become who we are meant to be. When we make bad choices our “crosses” are more like  consequences meant to get us to turn around, rather than proofs that we should stay.

Embrace your Cross Quotes

Reveling in the Beauty of the Cross

So, is the cross beautiful?  Is it “embrace-able”?

Think about Calvary as you pray this Holy Week.

What beauty did Christ see in the cross He embraced? He didn’t see a mere cross. He didn’t even look at the pain, the struggle, or the weight. He saw the ability to prove love, to point those who see His suffering to something else, to something greater. Now because of this, when we look at the cross, we too no longer simply see meaningless pain. We see Passionstrength, and love beyond condition and beyond measure. We see man, we see God… and, with our own crosses, now we too have the opportunity to share in it.

Lift high the cross
The love of Christ proclaim,
‘Til all the world
Adore His sacred name.

I lift high the cross of my vocation to marriage and motherhood because I am proud to sacrifice myself for my family.  This is my Passion, this is my way of being like Christ, of pointing my children and those around me to something greater, to love.

Embrace your Cross Quotes

[tweetshare tweet=”You know you are doing something right, when your cross no longer feels like pain, it feels like love. ” username=”CarolynMPereira”]

What is your cross and how can you find it’s beauty this Lent? Please, share below!


Other suggested readings/resources on this topic:

Click to watch!
Mandisa – Stronger Click to Listen!
Matthew West – Strong Enough Click to listen!

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carolynpereira1311@hotmail.com

4 Comments

  1. Bethany McIlrath

    Glad to Find your blog! This post was very thoughtful. I especially appreciated Your point that something ISN’T right just because it’s hard! That myth can lead to all sorts of undue hardship. Praise Jesus for his love displayed on the cross!

    16 . 04 . 2020
    • carolynpereira1311@hotmail.com

      Thank you so much for your comment! I was excited to find your blog as well! And yes, I’ve seen so many people struggle because they thought they had to choose the hard thing they didn’t want to do. Praise God for his mercy.

      25 . 04 . 2020
  2. Patsy

    Hello, Carolyn! I believe this is my first visit to your lovely blog! 🙂 Thanks for this important post on embracing our cross. And the printables look lovely as well. Leaving Behind the Whining & Complaining is a big step forward in that process, I agree!

    Pinned to a couple of boards including our “Free Printables and Downloads” group board.

    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    17 . 04 . 2020
    • carolynpereira1311@hotmail.com

      Thank you for having me 🙂 and thanks for the encouragement! God is good!

      25 . 04 . 2020

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