Have you ever heard the story about the man who was complaining to God that his cross (suffering) was too big for him to carry? God told the man that he could go into a closet full of crosses and pick out any cross he wanted. The man happily went to the closet, set down his cross, looked all around for the smallest cross he could find, and picked it up. God said to him, “My son, that was the cross you have had all along.”
I heard this tale when I was a little girl, and I constantly find it running through my head. It taught me two very important things as a young child: 1) We are all dealt a cross in life and 2) It won’t be more than we can handle.
Growing up, I always wondered what exactly my “cross” would be. Maybe I wouldn’t find a husband or become a mother. Perhaps I would get a terrible disease with no cure. Maybe I wouldn’t get a good job or be able to afford a house or other material things. Perhaps a close family member would die suddenly. The list of possible crosses went on and on. Now that I have become an adult, and I have a wonderful husband, beautiful children, a job that allows us to afford a house and put food on the table, a healthy body, and the gift of my Catholic faith, I still found myself wondering what my cross in life would be. I have been so blessed in so many ways, and it doesn’t seem “fair” that others have suffered many times over.
But then, about 4 months ago, after discovering Baby # 5 was on its way, I found myself complaining to my wonderful husband about those beautiful children of ours, and how sometimes I feel so overwhelmed between having to work full-time, raising the kids, keeping the house clean, etc. Like so many families, we are always just “making it by” financially and the addition of another child sooner than we thought was a little too much to handle. But then my husband said something profound. He said, “Colleen, if this is our cross in life, then God knows what He’s doing”. He was not referring to Baby #5 as our cross; he was questioning if our suffering in this life is to have a lot of surprise pregnancies and financial worries.
If that’s the hand I have been dealt, then I am so lucky! I know so many women who would do anything to be able to have a baby of their own, and here we are being blessed with so many children without even trying. Although I do believe that being super-fertile can be a cross, I know that being infertile would be a much larger and heavier cross to carry. God has given me the cross that I can handle; the one I need for eternal salvation, and for that I am extremely grateful.
Copyright 2011 Colleen Martin