I had a profound glimpse into the obvious the other day. “Pick up your cross daily and follow me” is a profound motivational life philosophy. It requires commitment. Commitment is big on my list. Commitment is my definition of love. If we truly love someone, we are committed to them. That’s why we really can’t be committed to a thing. If that thing gets old, breaks down, or gets lost then we may be sad but what then? We buy a new one and move on. But when we truly love someone, we are committed in life and death. We don’t just move on.
When we pick up our cross, we commit to it. That cross is our mission, our walk, our purpose in life. It is not our burden, although at times it may be burdensome. It becomes a problem if the burden defines us but it becomes a testimony if our victory over it defines us. So often we don’t want to share our physical pain with others, particularly if it is not going away because we don’t want to be defined by our illness.
We want to be defined by our victory over pain. We want to be known by overcoming our suffering—not just our suffering. But too often it seems we are defined by our suffering. “Oh, that’s Andy, he lost his oldest son,” or “That’s so-and-so, she’s got such and such disease.” We are more than that. Sometimes, a lot of times, it’s our fault that people don’t see our victory because we don’t see it.
Sometimes we don’t see getting up daily, brushing our teeth, and taking that first step as victory. We don’t see it as one step closer to our ultimate victory. Rather, we see it as one more day away from those we love. The reality is, we are one day closer.
It says pick up your cross, it doesn’t tell you to succumb to it. If we focus on our own cross, what happens? We can’t follow anyone or anything. If we focus on our own burden, we stumble, we fall and we don’t get up.
Recently, I ran a race that ended up a hill, a very long hill. I kept telling myself how hard it was. While I was telling myself this, a guy in my age group blew by me at the finish line. I was focused on my burden, he was focused on the finish line.
Obvious #1: When I pick up my cross and I put it on my back, I don’t see it. I can’t follow it, it follows me. I know it’s there, but I step out. Not just anywhere, I walk with purpose and direction to the finish line.
Obvious #2: I know it’s commonplace for people to say, “Keep your eyes focused on the cross.” Meaning focus on Jesus. Sounds good, but…here it comes… Jesus isn’t there. He has moved on. If we are following a cross, we aren’t going anywhere. Obvious, huh?
And focusing on our “dead” is also deceptive. They are not there either. They have moved on, they have changed. “But I feel their presence.” Me too. I see our son in the flight of a butterfly, I see him in the struggle of a little turtle, I sense him in the breeze on the beach, and I feel him in the handle of one of his wrenches. What I’m feeling, what I’m seeing, and hearing is a wonderful, powerful, real, yes real memory. It’s special, poignant, sometimes it hurts, sometimes it comforts. But it’s my memory of someone who was. I am forever committed but they have changed.
Obvious #3: I can’t follow a memory because a memory is in the past. I can only follow a future, what ever that may be. So today, I pick up my memories, I reach out to others may be struggling with their cross, and I follow my purpose—to love God and enjoy him forever.
Find out if your cross is holding you down by checking out the following:
Andy is a Clinical Psychologist who lost his son in a tragic motorcycle accident and now authors articles on bereavement. The quiz is available! Go to http://andymdavidson.com/Home/Pgd to find out if you may have Prolonged Grief Disorder. Look forward to his upcoming posts, and book, “When Sunday Smiled.” Follow him at his website, AndyMDavidson.com and Facebook.com/ThroughLifeandLoss to find out more about prolonged grief.