Penance, fasting, starving, poverty, isolation. Is that denying myself? Does denial always mean suffering? To some denial is not admitting the truth. What is it to deny oneself? It could be simply to put someone ahead of us. It’s admitting that we are not the center of the universe, and should not even be the center of our own world. The denial that Jesus speaks of is a re ordering of our live, not living for ourselves but living for something greater. The denial might also be admitting that we don’t always have the right answers, admitting that sometimes we made the wrong choices. Denying ourselves can simply be getting out of our own way. Deny yourself.
Pick up our cross, what cross? What is it that I am supposed to carry? Some say it is our burdens, it is our troubles, to some it is our responsibility. My cross? It’s my bones, my skeleton, and the apparatus that holds up my flesh. The flesh that encases the spirit. My cross might be everything that I could not get rid of by denying myself. It is what persistently remains, it’s the hard stuff. That stuff I drag along following Christ. But why?
Why? Why? Because all of that stuff is heavy, it’s a burden, and it makes my life cumbersome. That is how life is burdened and cumbersome, and difficult. It is especially toilsome with all of that baggage; but why follow Christ? To catch up to Him, to scream out, to get attention, to ask advice, and to get help. Jesus Christ helps with my burden, my cross. He lightens my load, relieves me of that baggage, aids me in my struggles, and teaches me balance. He teaches how to deny, and accept and carry. He teaches how to order a life, to put things in perspective. A properly ordered life turns my disordered life upside down. Hard to believe the Son of God is here to help me, to lighten a load or relieve a cross. That is so different from judgement, but why will I suffer at the end of time if I refuse to pick up my cross and follow him? Because I was never relieved of that burden, it’s not so much that I suffer at the end of time, it’s that I suffer all of the time. For my eternity.