Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 24:24
You never know the weight of another persons cross. Those words occurred to me tonight as I watched 44 6th graders tromp through the rain after evening prayer headed back to their cabins. As I type, we are finishing up our first day of camp and some of those middle lovelies headed off heavy footed and heavy hearted.
I think camp is great and it’s a time to watch the kids bond, build friendships, conquer challenges and grow as young leaders. I love everything about camp (except for the tissue thin mattresses) and it isn’t a burden to be here in any way but for some of the kids that isn’t the case. I watched as some of them began to realize mom and dad were pretty far away. I watched some of them worry about the thunder and rain. I wondered how many of them were a little heavy hearted because they wouldn’t be able to creep into mom and dad’s room if the thunder woke them up. For some of them, it will be hard to fall asleep and Friday seems so far away. To a middle lovely those are heavy crosses to bear the first night of camp.
To some folks, those crosses might seem trivial but to a 12 year old a hundred miles from home that isn’t the case. There were lots of hugs and winks and promises to pray for a good night of sleep. I try to explain as best I can that they will feel so strong and proud when they accomplish this tough thing and there are lots of reminders of the protection and comfort our Guardian Angels. The truth is, none of that makes much sense in the middle of the situation. It’s usually after the fact that we see how God was busy working in the situation all along. God doesn’t tell us to suck it up or tell us to stop whining because the cross really isn’t THAT heavy. Instead he helps us carry them when we ask. Tomorrow morning things will look very different and they will be back to the fun. That is a reminder that crosses aren’t meant to be carried forever. He gives us rest and sometimes he bears all the weight himself.
God is always reminding us of his love and mercy if we’re paying attention. My heart was a little heavy this afternoon as I watched the middle lovelies laughing and having a great time together and I couldn’t help thinking about their classmate Samantha that died when these kids were in the 4th grade. Many of us who love this class call on her heavenly intercession to bless and strengthen this terrific class often and not long after I had prayed a decade of the Rosary asking for that very thing, it started to pour. A few minutes later the sun popped out and we saw a rainbow over the lake and the other 6th grade teacher was telling us that she had been told a rainbow was a sign of love from someone in heaven. I realized as I saw that rainbow that Samantha came to camp with us too. That beautiful rainbow only lasted a little while but it made that cross a little easier to carry.
As I pray for the middle lovelies to have good sleep, I ask the Lord to help me be aware of those who need help with their crosses instead of trying to determine how heavy I think they are compared to mine.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses you’re carrying and then ask him for help because we’re not meant to do all the heavy lifting ourselves.
Blessings on your day!
Then He said, “If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily…” Luke 9:23
I know two women who battled cancer. Upon diagnosis the first woman said, “Why me God, I’ve tried to lead a good life, why would you punish me like this?” The second woman said, “Well God, why not me! I’m sure you could have picked someone holier and stronger but you didn’t so please show me how to use this suffering to bring me and those who love me closer to You.” I know for a fact that the second woman clung to this passage from Luke’s Gospel like a life raft; that woman was my mom!
If the greatest, purest, holiest most awesome man to ever walk this earth experienced suffering, pain and anguish what in the world makes us think we should be exempt? Time and again I greet inconveniences and small sufferings with distain instead of embracing them and allowing them to help me grow in faith. Little things like a car that won’t start, a checkbook that won’t balance and a pile of dirty laundry that multiplies at the speed of light are my crosses to bear. Some days I’m a lousy cross bearer! I like to wiggle and whine and pout. I like to climb on my soap box and lament the fact that if my family appreciated me and respected me the way I deserved I would get a little more help and cooperation. Truth is, loving and serving my family with my whole heart is part of my vocation as a mother and sometimes it is exactly the cross I am called to bear.
My mother always said,” The greatest way to serve God is to serve others; so go fold the socks and serve God!” It truly takes a servants heart to take up our daily crosses. The burdens and sufferings of our days are meant to help us depend on the love of the Father. The harder we lean on Him as we bear our crosses, the more united we become to Him and the less important our needs, wishes and desires become. My mom understood that completely and lived that understanding beautifully right to the end!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the crosses you need to “take up”. Ask God to help you see how to do it gracefully and faithfully. Make a note of someone in your life that bears a heavy cross in an inspiring way and think about what you can learn from their example.
Blessings on your day!
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