People carry their crosses upstairs at night. They sleep with them. Carry them downstairs in the morning. And continue to carry those crosses all day long…
In many instances it’s still there with you on your death bed. In fact, carrying the weight of your cross for so long is often the very thing that kills you. Sometimes your friends and family even put a cross on your grave, with your name on it – so they will remember you. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The crosses we carry are not made of wood, or iron, or even lead. They are made of things much heavier than that. They are made of abuse and anger and anxiety. Some are made of fame, and fortune, and fear. They are made of poverty, and pressure, and power. And they are made of so many other things including guilt, and ignorance, and especially hate, which may be the heaviest cross of all to bear because people hate so many things, including themselves.
There are people in life who are there to help you bear the burden of your cross. A doctor or therapist can tell you how to lift your cross and how to carry it the right way so it doesn’t destroy you when you collapse under its weight. Your friends and family can provide support and encouragement so your cross doesn’t weigh you down completely, making you immobile and unable to function.
You have to pick up your cross by yourself and carry it alone. It’s your cross not theirs. Besides, they have their own crosses to carry through life. And, in some cases, you are their burden and their cross to bear.
You can’t always see someone’s cross because they often keep it well hidden behind smiles and excuses and lies. They don’t call it a cross. Maybe they call it by some other name. They say it’s just my security blanket that helps me cope. Or it’s my wooden crutch that I need until I get better. Or it’s my silver spoon that I was born with. But if you look closely you can see that cross in their faces and hear it in the voices. And you can feel it when you’re together with no one else around.
I suppose being alive and carrying a cross go together like good and evil, like joy and sorrow, like up and down, like day and night, and especially like life and death.
There are some people who have managed to lighten the load of their crosses, and some who have figured out how to put their cross down and leave it behind, sometimes forever. You can’t do this by taking a pill, or spending money, or putting a needle in your arm, or robbing a bank, or serving time, or eating a box of chocolates, or lying to yourself, or admitting your guilt, or rolling the dice, or even by winning a lottery.
The solution is much simpler than all that. First you have to admit to yourself that you’re carrying a cross. Often those carrying the biggest and heaviest burdens don’t believe they’re carrying a cross at all. They think you have the problem.
Just look in the mirror
It won’t be a small shiny thing hanging from a chain around your neck that you see. Step up to the mirror and look into your eyes. Then you’ll see it. It’s that big heavy object strapped across your back, hanging over your shoulder, that’s bending your body and bowing your head down. Once you see it like that then you’re ready to put your cross down and leave it behind. But it can only be done one way, and that’s the hard way, with sheer will. The will to survive, the will to succeed, the will to overcome, and ultimately the will to live, provide the strength and power and determination to carry on without a cross.
But where does this kind of sheer will come from? It comes from a place hidden away inside of you; a place only you can reach, a place you must go to alone, a place that’s always been there, and a place that holds all the secrets to life. That place is your own mind.
I suppose the blind poet, John Milton, who died in 1674 said it best: “A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”
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