“If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.”
“There’s a perfectly God-shaped hole inside all of us.”
A dear friend of mine is a youth pastor at a local Catholic church, and the other day we fell into a deep philosophical conversation about God, spirituality, and the various interpretations of God. She is a devout woman who has an impassioned heart for the Catholic Church and its youth; I am a free spirit who finds God where I am and am a bit weary of man-made institutions, but we BOTH love God and yearn to be Godly women for our families and this world. So, in short, our conversations are always robust and full of learning and respect.
So after a while, our discussion progressed to the division of burdens we all have in our lives and the different struggles each of us endure. Lately, I’ve been experiencing delayed growing pains and have been pretty distraught over my vocation and the negativity surrounding it so I shared with her my experiences and feelings over the past month. Overflowing with a gentle wisdom, my friend shared a story with me that both opened my eyes to the moment and helped me see how God may view where I am right now.
And the story goes like this (in my own words and details thrown in, of course)…
“Carry Your Cross”
by K.A. Phinney
There once was a man who was feeling very, very overwhelmed with his life and his division of burdens. He was consumed by the thoughts that his burdens were too heavy, too large, and too difficult for him to carry, and he was very upset with God for giving him a cross that he just couldn’t possibly bear.
At night, he’d tell God, “God, I can’t possible carry this cross anymore! My burdens are too much, too heavy, too large. It’s just too difficult for me, God. And I’m tired.”
And then he would wait and wait, but God just didn’t answer.
So the next day, the man was grumbling and waiting for his bus on the park bench when he overheard a woman explaining to her friend that there was a cross shop that specialized in burden replacement just around the corner. The man couldn’t believe his ears.
“Finally!” he thought. “If God doesn’t want to free me from my burdens, then I will.” So off to the cross shop he trekked, leaving the two chatting woman and the bus stop behind.
When he entered the shop, a friendly elderly man greeted him.
“Hello, Son. Can I help you?”
“Well, yes,” the burdened man replied. “This here cross I am carrying is too much for me to handle. It’s too heavy and too large. I hear you can help me with replacing it…”
“Well, of course I can. Just turn in your cross up here at the return counter, and then take a look around to find a new cross that you feel is just right for you. When you find it, bring it on up to the check out, and I’ll get you on your way.”
“That’s all?” the man thought to himself. So he left his cross with the elderly man and ventured through the aisles of the shop. Here and there, he would pause to closely examine a cross that caught his eye. One was flashy but much heavier than his last cross. Others felt lighter but were much too large, while others were both larger and heavier than the one he brought in to be rid of. So on and on it went like this until he noticed a cross hanging on the front wall he hadn’t noticed before.
He approached the cross and took it down from the wall. Compared to the others, it seemed lighter and smaller, although he couldn’t be sure. He inspected it carefully, practiced carrying around the burden in the shop, and finally determined it would do.
At the counter, the old man watched and waited patiently. “Do you think you found the cross for you?”
“Yes, I think I have. Of all the crosses in your store, I think I can deal with this one best.”
“Are you sure?” the old man asked.
“Why, yes. It’s the only one that seems to fit with what I can handle.”
The old man gave a knowing nod and smiled. He leaned over the counter and looked his patron in the eyes. “Son,” he said, “the cross in your hands now is the very one you came in with.”
The conclusion of the story rang in my ears as my friend explained its moral. The cross God gives you to bear is the very one He knows you can handle. It’s designed just for you, and you will be the one that becomes a better person because of it. Like coal under intense pressure, you will become diamonds. There isn’t another cross more perfect for you, and no one else’s cross can replace it.
So since then, when I am challenged and am feeling weak, I remember this story, and I know that I need to give it to God. He knows I can handle it, and if I get tired He is the one that will help me continue on. And in the end, it's not about the burden at all; what's important is how you bear your cross and what you learn from the journey.