When I first realized that the claims of Christianity were true, I could hardly wait to go tell the world about it. Like many new converts, I was on fire about the idea of evangelization. I realized that overt evangelization efforts often come with a cross to carry — the world doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, people will think you’re a fool, etc. — but I was ready! I would gladly accept that cross to bring glory to God!
Just as I was gearing up to find the nearest rooftop from which I could shout about this good news, I came across the following quote:
Do not ask for more crosses until you have borne well those already given you.
I don’t remember where I first heard it, but it was exactly what I needed to hear as a new believer.
It made me realize that before I could embrace this future cross of doing whatever theoretical things I was going to do to tell people about God, I needed to take a look at how I was handling the crosses I had in this moment, right now. In the explosion of excitement I felt after realizing that all this Christianity stuff was true, I’d felt a frantic rush to go tell everyone about it before I stopped to really allow the teachings of this religion to transform my own life first. I was ready to boldly carry the cross of stating unpopular truths in the name of proclaiming the Gospel…while becoming exasperated by the little crosses of daily life. Not that I interpreted this to mean that I had to be perfect in order to evangelize, but it made me realize that I could probably do as much to bring glory to God by turning to him in calm trust when caught in an unexpected traffic jam as I could by telling someone about the historical case for the accuracy of the New Testament.
Probably because my conversion was almost entirely for intellectual reasons, I’d confined God to my head. God was something to be thought about, Christianity something to be contemplated. It was this advice — start by carrying the crosses you already have — that first snapped me out of my pontificating rut and made me see that this religion provided not just a series of truths about the universe and the human existence, but a way for each of us to have a living relationship with our Creator.
I began to see the drastic difference between thinking approving thoughts about suffering inconveniences gracefully and actually suffering inconveniences gracefully: I saw that it was the difference between seeking God with your head and seeking God with your heart. It was the difference between having an idea of God and having a relationship with God.
This was to be one of the first, most important lessons I learned in terms of what it means to fully live my Christian faith in daily life. And though the lesson was particularly timely as a brand new convert who was disproportionately more on fire for talking about faith than truly living the faith, I find that it’s something that I still struggle with every day. Over and over again I face the temptation to embrace future, theoretical crosses as I bemoan every inconvenience that’s set in front of me. As I attempt to grow in my newfound faith, I have found few things to be more true than this:
Anything is easier than carrying the cross that’s in front of you right here, right now.
And yet, as difficult as it is, I’m starting to think that it is when we start doing this, when we begin to calmly accept whatever cross stares us in the face at this moment, we will find ourselves on a fast track to true, deep conversion.
RELATED POST: “What does it mean to carry your cross?“
A COUPLE NOTES: Thanks to Meta’s comment here for reminding me of this quote and pointing out that it’s from the amazing St. Francis de Sales. Also, I apologize if there is anything incoherent in this post. I was unexpectedly interrupted approximately 5, 972 times while trying to write it over the past couple of days. I actually found myself getting angry because I kept getting derailed from writing my blog post about carrying the crosses that are put in front of us. It’s a good thing you can’t die from irony overdose.
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