I’m grateful for the cross I bear.

A young man was at the end of his rope, and, seeing no way out, he dropped to his knees in prayer.

“Lord, I can’t go on,” he said. “I have too heavy of a cross to bear.”

The Lord replied, “My son, if you can’t bear its weight, just place your cross inside this room. Then, open that other door and pick out any cross you wish.”

The man was filled with relief said, “Thank you, Lord,” and he did as he was told.

Upon entering the other door, he saw many crosses, some so large the tops were not visible.

Then, he spotted a tiny cross leaning against a far wall.

I’d like that one, Lord,” he whispered.

And the Lord replied, ” My son, that is the cross you just brought in.” 

I believe that all major religions (yes, yes, even Jedi, I’m sure…) have something to teach me, and this is one of the stories that struck a deep chord in me when I was quite young and impressionable. It insists on haunting and nagging me whenever I’m feeling upset, angry and bitter and all I want to do is wallow in self-pity and regret and plot revenge in peace.

My cross and I, we’ve struck up a mutual companionable tolerance. I’m not sure we’ve gotten to “love” yet, but we don’t snarl at each other any more. I swivel around and squint at it and think, “it’s not such a bad cross, most of the time”– it doesn’t contain anything that would physically get in the way of options and life choices, for one thing– and I imagine it regards me warily from time to time and thinks, “she’s not too big a whinging cow.”

On top of that, almost every time my cross got too heavy to bear, someone or something sent an angel or a few in the form of true friends, who helped me to carry it, despite their own crosses strapped to their backs, some heavier and larger than mine. My faith in god has never been more shaken than it is at this point in my life, but if I look back honestly, I know that there was always a force cushioning the impact, guiding me gently down the paths that weren’t so easy to take but were for the best, carrying a hurricane lamp, rustling up support, and, sometimes, even helping to prop up my cross.

I’m grateful for my own cross to bear, because I think, in that room of crosses, mine wouldn’t be all that big after all.

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