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Take Up Your Cross, He Said. It’ll be Fun, He Said.

My eldest has ADHD. It’s quite an experience, raising a child who can’t filter sensory input or control the way he responds. A few days ago something happened I never expected. Because of a wildly inappropriate sermon given to my son’s 3rd grade class, I thanked God for my son’s condition. Mostly because he was so distracted during the sermon that the only thing I needed to explain to him afterwards was why the priest was talking about a man getting shot in the face.

It’s odd to think of a debilitating condition as a blessing, something to thank God for. I think there are saints who did that, but I am no saint. Yet here I am with a new perspective, because I too have a condition. Until yesterday I never considered my struggle with depression and anxiety disorder was anything but a cross. A big, fat, crushing cross. And it is, because that’s the nature of depression. It suffocates, it drowns, and it does so by using the best weapon it has: your own self.

How is this a blessing, exactly? Because debilitation, of any kind, prepares us to accept the invitation of Christ in Mt 16:24: let him renounce self, and take up his cross, and follow me. Let me explain this using depression and anxiety, because that is what I know. Depression and anxiety isolate a person. It’s difficult to be social, to be successful at work, or even to leave your house. You lock yourself away to save yourself from more pain, but you end up creating a vicious cycle within yourself that eventually makes you implode. It is a most pitiful and horrible form of selfishness. What’s worse, it happens against your will.  My implosion happened many years ago. I collapsed in the shower one morning because I was too terrified to leave the bathroom and get dressed for work. As I lay sobbing, a sliver of clarity came to me. I realized that I needed to get help–to renounce what I had become, take up this cross, and do something about it.

The first person I told was my father. He and I are a lot alike, so we drive each other crazy on a regular basis. It took what felt like a Herculean effort to set aside my pride and our history, but I did. I let go of myself. And my cross got lighter. Some days it doesn’t feel light, but I know it is. Because when I came out of myself I found my parents, and my husband, and my children. I found friends, and cousins, and nieces and nephews. Each and every one of them help me carry my cross. Every single day. My joy is in them; by them my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. I understand these words now, because of my debilitation. That’s why it’s a blessing.

Lest you think I forgot the last part of Mt 16:24, my happy ending happened because I accepted Jesus’ invitation and followed him. I did this before anything else. You see, a few months before my infamous shower scene I started attending daily Mass before work. Other than my future husband, Mass was the only thing in my life that made me happy. I was in RCIA at the time; I could not receive the Eucharist, but the spiritual communion I felt each time I went was intense. I followed Christ, and was able to renounce myself and take up my cross. I have days now where I can toss that bad boy in the air, twirl it around, whistle a happy tune. What a blessing.

I pray that I can help my son see the blessings in his ADHD and how he can use it to follow Jesus. I pray that all who suffer from a debilitation, whether it’s a medical condition, emotional trauma, or a prolonged life of sin, will hear Jesus’ invitation, see their hidden blessings, and ease their burdens.

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3 thoughts on “Take Up Your Cross, He Said. It’ll be Fun, He Said.

  1. Thank you. I just sat in my car, unable to get out because I hadn’t done my ritual right. I prayed and prayed for God to bless my kids, and even though I have taken steps medically, I felt despondent for the ways anxiety and depression and the fear of them increasing feed into more and more of all three. I couldn’t say amen the right way in prayer, my OCD and GA, my accusers, say; I kept redoing the whole thing. When I finally stopped, there was no time between amen and my phone alerting me to a new share on Google, which was this post. Jesus.

    Like

  2. It’s amazing the things that happen when we put aside pride, I’m still trying to learn how to do that, but it is good to see the hope.
    I think your son will be ok; you and your husband are good at helping people see the positive. 🙂

    Like

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