Jesus says: "If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him... take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). He does not say: "Make a cross" or "Look for a cross." Each of us has a cross to carry. There is no need to make one or look for one. The cross we have is hard enough for us! But are we willing to take it up, to accept it as our cross?
Maybe we can't study, maybe we are handicapped, maybe we suffer from depression, maybe we experience conflict in our families, maybe we are victims of violence or abuse. We didn't choose any of it, but these things are our crosses. We can ignore them, reject them, refuse them or hate them. But we can also take up these crosses and follow Jesus with them.
Henri Nouwen, from Bread for the Journey
I think this has been one of the hardest things for me to learn. Like so many people, I have wasted years looking for a good cross, a noble, praiseworthy cross, one that everyone can see is holy and admirable. I've ignored, and tried to avoid, the real, messy, shameful ones I've been given - the ones just like Jesus', actually. Those are the ones he asks us to take up so that we can, truly, follow him...