What does it look like to carry your cross

Years ago a mentor friend introduced me to the concept of “Dying to yourself.”  When I first heard it I thought, that sounds horrible, and what does it really mean? 

The world tells us to take selfies, be STRONG, Girl power, leave your marriage if he isn’t making you “happy”.  BE competitive.  STRIVE.  Collect more, have more, BE MORE.  The world demands our blood, our broken backs and 24 hours of our time because if we aren't striving to be successful and if we aren't number one and if we aren't the busiest one on the block, then we've got to step it up so we don't get stepped on.  This is the pulse of the world right now.  And power is the prize at the finish line like a flashing vegas street sign.  But here's the dirty little secret no-one is talking about.  The finish line is dust. The finish line is death.  And I'm pretty sure there isn't an angel in heaven handing out a ranking of 1st place medals.    

Dying to yourself is the exact opposite of the power the world says you can achieve.

I learned through my friends example and through the bible that dying to yourself is about service, sacrifice and sanctification.  It has tremendous power.   It can stop arguments, infidelity and divorce.  It uncovers truth and shines light on unconditional love.  It brings freedom and hope.  It quiets jealousy and calls out our unique gifts.  It is essentially serving God and others instead of serving ourselves.           

It looks like laying down our expectations of how we think our kids should perform.  

It looks like yielding when we think we have the answers and asking God first what should come out of our mouths.

It looks like serving the community without seeking recognition.

It looks like respecting our elders. (That includes in laws people!)  In words.  In actions.  In sacrifice.

It looks like getting up in the dark to brew coffee and prepare breakfast for the people that live in our homes.

It looks like not comparing ourselves to others, but rejoicing over their successes, their miracles and their joys.

It looks like not striving to be first, but working to lift others up.  

It looks like honouring our spouses by the words we use to describe them.

It looks like setting a table for others, not for the compliments, but to create a space where people can feel loved and cared for.  

It looks like not counting numbers or likes or seeking the approval of others.  It looks like seeking the will of God.

It looks like encouraging others and calling out their gifts. 

It looks like pouring out ALL of our gifts without asking God for payment.

It looks like leaving a job without listing everything we've contributed, and instead listing everything we've appreciated.  

It looks like continuing to praise God despite the pain in our bodies.

It looks like choosing to call out beauty and light in the darkest of places.  

It looks like total surrender to the one who holds the true power. 

It looks like taking the time to be on time, to show up, to mentor, to listen and to pour into another person. 

It looks like taking a step toward Jesus even when we are completely broken, battered, lost, hungry and hurting....because He is there with his hand reached out saying;

I KNOW suffering. 

I know YOU. 

You are KNOWN. 

Dying to yourself is discovering that love isn't something you get to make you happy, it's something you give that makes you holy.   Maybe if we all thought this way, the world would groan a little less, demand a little less and thrive a little more.     

Jesus, thank you for your sacrifice.  For carrying your cross so we could be free in you.  Thank you for modelling what it looks like to have faith, hope and love even when everything hurts in this world. This Easter, we honour YOU and the fullness of your sacrifice for US and we choose to seek you above all else.  In Jesus name Amen.    John 3:3-7

Happy Easter Weekend everyone!  Enjoy the moment you’re in and take some time to reflect on the life of Jesus and what his sacrifice means to you personally.