I know I have read someone else's blog recently that spoke of God choosing our Lenten sacrifices for us. How true that is for me so far this Lent. Before Ash Wednesday arrived, I had thoughtfully and prayerfully chosen the sacrifices I would make over the next forty days. I would give up sweets and aim to get to Adoration once a week. I might even limit my computer time during the day. Such well laid out plans. They are worthy plans. They are made with a heart full of love and a great desire to grow closer to Our Lord. And I will keep these plans.
God seems to have chosen a few more sacrifices for me to offer up. They are the crosses, the burdens He thinks I need to carry. The areas in my life where I need to trust him more.
Often times when I hear about a person and their particular cross they must bear - whether it be illness, death of a loved one, miscarriages - I wonder why is it that God has not given me such heavy crosses to carry. Why am I not faced with such difficult circumstances? And then I reread this passage in Scripture yesterday as I studied the readings for the Mass.
"Then he said to all, 'If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himselfand 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. What profit is there for one to gain the whole worldyet lose or forfeit himself?'" Luke 9:10
I don't think I ever really noticed it before, but yesterday I pondered the first five words - "Then he said to ALL." He begins telling the people how they must take up their daily cross and then follow him. This is where I believe God spoke to me. You see, it's not that I don't have crosses and others do. I do have crosses. Remember? He said "ALL." ALL (including me) can't carry a cross they don't have. So we must ALL have crosses. We have our own individualized, personal crosses that I believe exist to help us grow in holiness.
During Ash Wednesday morning Mass I became keenly aware of what I believe God is doing and of the crosses that I carry - those I can give up this Lent.
I don't know if I've ever said this here and, of course, those who know me in person, know that I struggle with worry. Not about Nuclear War or death or even taxes, for that matter. I am frequently afflicted with great anxiety when I think one of my children may be getting sick. Now we are not talking life threatening, here. Just your common run of the mill kid type sickness. You know the kind. Once they are actually sick, I am usually OK. I am still not positive why I have trouble with this. The polls are still out. Possibly fear of the unknown, the uncertainty involved, the lack of control I have. But no matter what causes it, it is a burden, a cross. I don't want to do what I do. I want more than anything not to, but that is easier said than done. I have gotten better and better over the years, but sometimes it creeps up on me stronger than other times.
So Wednesday morning, Michael was getting fussy during Mass (SO not uncommon - I always take him to the back on Sundays). Brian volunteered to take him out. Usually I put him down and he explores. He is BUSY, ACTIVE. But every time I turned around to look at Mikey and Brian, Brian was holding him and he was resting his head on his daddy's shoulder. That's not my Mikey! As we made our way through the Mass, I could feel my stomach knotting and hurting, I was unable to concentrate and just generally anxious. I knew he was probably getting sick.
Every song, every word of every prayer for the remainder of the Mass made a tear come to my eye. This is my cross. This is what you want me to bring to you for healing. This is what you want me to work on this Lent. Could you be a little more clear, Lord?
Michael was sick. Moderate fever, some nasal symptoms. By yesterday afternoon (about 24 hours), he was much better. Fever free, cheerful. Not bad overall. Then last night Nicole threw up (which for Nicole is not an uncommon occurence - Miss Sensitive Tummy). Oh, yes, God does have a sense of humor. I know. I know. I said I wanted a little more clarity. Check.
We stayed home from co-op this morning, though I pondered taking just Jacob and Andrew. I am SO glad I didn't. Andrew wasn't quite himself this morning and a bit pale. I was suspect. By 11:30 I was doling out Tylenol to him too. Then around 3:30 the next fly dropped - Nicole. More Tylenol. OK. OK. I get it!!!!!! Somehow I maanged to take the appearances of these illnesses more in stride. By the grace of God, but in a way I was also prepared for it. As I had been watching Michael mouth everything and drool everywhere while he was sick, I remember noting that I was pretty sure the others would get it. I guess today I wasn't surprised.
So, I have started out this Lenten season with a bang! I know the Lord is calling me to work on this. I know he wants me to be free and whole. I truly believe he doesn't want me to carry around this burden of worry. It is his to carry for me if I can give it to him with my whole heart. It is a cross I carry. For me it is heavy. It weighs me down physically, mentally, spiritually.
I am yours Lord, this Lent. Do what you will.
“Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” Mark 5:34