JOY IN THE CROSS By: Nelia B. Navarrete

nelia“If anyone wishes to come after me, let him take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) This verse has been my inspiration and rallying cry ever since I became a widow some seven years back. Losing my lifetime partner and the father of my children was devastating and life shattering. My whole world fell apart. I felt lost and abandoned. I was lonely and depressed. But because of countless prayers and novenas, spiritual support, faith in the Lord, and the love of my children and grandchildren, I slowly learned to live again. I now keep myself busy and most importantly, I now realize that in our lives, we will inevitably encounter sorrows and disappointments. These are the crosses that we all must bear.

I still encounter small crosses every now and then. Oftentimes, I find the cross in the ordinary and trivial things of everyday life—aches and pains, fatigue, loneliness, misunderstandings within my family, misunderstandings with friends, misfortune affecting those I love—the small contradictions of daily existence. I have since accepted these small hiccups as proof of the fatherly love the Lord has for me. Accepting the cross means accepting His divine will. To follow Him, I must identify my will with His. Accepting the cross is the ultimate sacrifice of love and self-giving. It is the complete surrender to God, the total abandonment and emptying of my self. At times, the cross emerges out of the blue—it is Christ who is seeking me out. He carries the cross with me—He embraces the cross so that I may be saved. I do not see my disappointments and trials as crosses any longer. I now consider them as my blessings for the cross of Jesus is tender and pleasing. As I carry my cross together with Christ, my soul is filled with peace and a deep joy amidst all its trials. To have the cross is to have joy; it is to have the Lord.

Lighten the burden of your cross. Keep yourself busy. Arise! Dancercise! with us every Tuesday and Friday, from 2-4 p.m. at the Parish Center. Join me so that we may all be able to carry our cross together with joy.