After my divorce I was carrying a very heavy cross. Surprisingly, what made my cross so heavy was not the usual challenges of being a single parent, financial uncertainty, or dealing with a difficult ex. I certainly had my share of these challenges. What turned my cross from wood to lead was my difficulties with living a chaste life. I clearly knew the Church taught that I must not be sexually intimate, but I struggled mightily with the temptation. No matter how hard I tried, I always seemed to fail. Each failure drove me into confession where I would emerge with a renewed conviction. Sometimes it would only be a few days before I would fail again and find myself right back in confession. The cycle continued and my cross got heavier and heavier.
One day I realized I had to make a decision. Either I was going to live what the Church taught, or I would have to leave the Church. Something had to give. To make matters worse, I knew that if I really was going to live the Church’s teaching, I feared my cross would get heavier still. It was already so heavy I could not imagine taking on the tremendous burden of faithfully living a chaste life. The weight literally drove me to my knees. In the most heart-wrenching prayer, I gave my leaden cross to Christ. I could not take it anymore. I told Him the only way I could continue to carry my cross was if He helped me. What I didn’t realize then was at that moment I died to Christ. My will died to His. Jesus was now able to come into my heart and give me a new life. A life centered on His will instead of mine. Suddenly, my cross became much, much lighter. I was not carrying it alone anymore. Christ was walking with me, helping me. It made all the difference!
Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” – Luke 9:23-24