Learning to Carry My Daily Crosses and Breaking Out of Vicious Cycles

Vacation time recently ended for us. Manny took a week off from work because we were supposed to go to New Mexico to visit his family and enjoy the beautiful state. Sadly, we had to cancel, and Manny spent his vacation working on our vehicles. I felt horrible the entire time he was off. Not that it was my fault, or I had any control over the situation, but I felt bad that Manny didn’t get to visit his family or even enjoy what little time off he gets during the year.

Several times I expressed this to him during his time off. Each time he told me not to be silly and not to feel bad. He kept saying,

“Don’t feel bad for me, I’m living the dream. If this is the price I have to pay to have you and the kids then so be it. I’m not complaining.”

I love this man.

Besides being good at making my heart melt, Manny also knows how to annoy me beyond belief! Let me explain: While Manny was working on the vehicles, I was cleaning and doing extra chores around the house with the kids. We still took time off from school, but we weren’t vacationing either. I definitely had moments of frustration during our “vacation.” A few times I grumbled to Manny saying, “Why does life have to be so dang hard all the time…every step of the way.” He took the opportunity to repeat some of my regularly spoken words when anyone in my family is complaining which are,

“Jesus was born in a cave, died on a cross, and was laid to rest in a borrowed tomb. Your life isn’t so bad.”

He grinned like the Grinch at having a perfect opportunity to tell me those words after I complained. He was right to say what he did, but that just annoyed me more!

We often hear people respond to other people’s complaints by saying something about, “first-world problems” which is meant to give some often needed perspective. My reminder that God came down and lived a life of poverty, died a cruel death and didn’t even have a tomb of his own to be buried in, is given for perspective too. It does help. I actually say those words to myself more than to anyone in my family. If my unfinished, super-micro kitchen is driving me crazy (which it often does) I try and stop, breathe, and tell myself ‘Jesus was born in a cave so stop complaining.’

The perspective is good for my soul of course, but it doesn’t make my super-micro kitchen any larger. I feed twelve of us every single day out of my “deluxe” Barbi RV-sized kitchen, so every day it’s a cross I need to carry. The words “first-world problems” don’t make other people’s real issues disappear either even if they aren’t anywhere near as bad as any third world country issue is. Those of us with “first-world problems” still have valid struggles and crosses to bear.

So how should we handle those crosses?

A place to start is to acknowledge we have real and valid issues that make us feel certain ways: Angry, sad, anxious, depressed, or even hurt (or maybe all of those things). On top of the problem and whatever negative feelings I have in response, I often also feel guilt for the negative feelings. This only impacts the problem and makes it snowball leaving me exhausted, and angry at myself for complaining about one of my honest and real issues in life. It’s a vicious cycle. I am grateful to be able to go to confession and be reminded by Father Maximos that these feelings are normal because I’m human.

Besides reminding me I’m human, and my responses are natural, Father Maximos will also ask me something like, “But how is the anger helping you?” Or something along those lines about how I may be feeling about a particular frustration I am dealing with. This question helps me a lot. I now try to ask myself this when I am having a hard time. Sometimes what I am thinking of as a negative feeling may actually be helpful; it may motivate me to change something that is in my power to change, but I haven’t. Or I realize the feelings are only feelings and I can let them go and not dwell on them and not beat myself up for them because I’m only human and they are just feelings.

I’ve also thought about how Jesus carried His cross out of love for us and (literally) needed help doing that. He also didn’t die alone but was surrounded by love and cared for lovingly after His death. I’m learning to reach out more to those I can trust, ask for help when I can, and look for ways to help others bear their crosses. We each have struggles that are made far worse than they are by trying to carry them alone. The vicious cycles we get ourselves trapped in keep others out and keep God out. Let’s break those cycles and move forward along the path of salvation.

Instead of getting caught in the vicious cycle, I am now learning to give myself some perspective while also acknowledging the real crosses I am dealing with and allowing my feelings to pass easier or help me fix what I can about my current problem. Most importantly, I’m learning to not only accept whatever crosses I have (whether it’s a missed vacation, my micro kitchen, financial struggles, relationship issues, broken computers or whatever) but receive my crosses with love and care as Jesus did. I’m sure this will be a life-long struggle for me.

 


As a way to work through my negative feelings and embrace my crosses better, I’m challenging myself to write in detail (instead of a short list) three things I am grateful for every day. I’ll be sharing those things every day on my MEDIUM page. Join me if you’d like and read about it here:

https://medium.com/@jessicaarchuleta/attitude-of-gratitude-challenge-day-1-writing-my-way-to-a-more-thankful-heart-11b941591d49

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Attitude of Gratitude Challenge: Day 9— Writing My Way to a More Thankful Heart - Every Home a Monastery

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