“Always remain on the cross”– not a common motto for life!
I once asked my mom what her motto in life is. She replied: “Always remain on the cross.” It is not a common motto, but her answer was not really surprising to me.
A happy and safe home
My name is Aksel, and I want to tell you about my mother. We are a family of ten children and I am the oldest. Our family lives in a quiet village in Poland. Although there are 21 years between me and my youngest sister, we all get along really well. I love my family.
Sometimes, when we sat together in the evenings, my mother would express her thankfulness for the cross. But that can seem a little daunting, or at least strange, when you hear that she “always wants to remain on the cross.” What does that really mean? My mother means something specific when she says that, so I would like to ask her about it.
Not a common motto for life
When we got a little time to talk about the subject, my mother began:
“Somebody once asked me if I liked her. I said, ‘Yes, I like you.’ Then she asked: ‘But do you really like me, or only by using the “cross?”’ What she meant was if I really liked her, or if I in actual fact didn’t like her, but by denying myself managed to put up with her. But when I ‘die on the cross,’ then I don’t only ‘put up with’ somebody, but love becomes absolutely genuine and very warm! I could answer her that I really loved her! I must say that the cross is absolutely fantastic!
“For me, the message of the cross means that I don’t have to do what I want. That means I not only deny my strong self-will with all its unjust demands, but that I can be crucified and that self-will can die! It really happens in my mind: when bad thoughts come, I crucify them and hate them; then they get no opportunity to make it uncomfortable for me and others, and eventually they are gone. The cross is a very useful tool for everyday use in different situations: in marriage, with the children, in church life.
“I am a person with a strong personality. By nature, I like to have control over what I do. But I often say to myself that not everything has to be how I want it and the way I think it should be. Maybe the others have other opinions on the matter? It isn’t so important in which restaurant we should eat, where to go on a trip with friends, whether we should take the car or our bikes, etc. But in such things, which really are quite unimportant, various bad thoughts can arise. Then it is always good to crucify the lust to rule, which wants to decide over the others, for example.
“You might ask: How do I crucify it? Someone who is crucified gets nails in his hands and he can’t do much more. He doesn’t die right away, but it is a process where that person hangs on the cross, and eventually dies. Likewise, I also crucify sin, because I know that it dies after some time, and then things become more free and good for the others. It also gives me joy, personally.”
It's actually a bit special for me as a son to hear this from my mother, because I think I can remember some circumstances when mom did exactly this. She did not do what she had wanted to do herself, or what she had planned. With a family of ten children, many plans can change quickly!
It isn’t automatic
My mother continues: “Since we have already talked about the cross, I would also like to say that even if you have the best husband in the world, that doesn’t mean that you can be happy without using the cross. If you don’t use the cross, then you become miserable even in the best family.
“For example: I use the cross when I have to get up several times at night to tend my little treasure. At times like that various thoughts pop up: dissatisfaction, complaining, demands and reproaching God – that this isn’t how I want it to be, etc.” As we are talking about this she is holding my youngest sister on her lap. Little Randi looks up at her mother with a radiant face and big eyes. In her little world right now, mom is the only thing that has value in life. They smile at each other, but soon mom continues:
“I often think that it would have been terrible if I hadn’t been faithful and had become angry at this gift from God. Then the smile would also have disappeared from her face. But by working on myself, by faithfully keeping these thoughts on the cross, new thoughts are born, thoughts from God. That hope, that sin will die in me by these situations, and new, divine qualities come instead, that hope helps me to get through such a night.”
Results of the cross
“When I think back, I can remember that at the beginning of our marriage, when we had small children etc., I was much more impatient than I am today. I cannot say that it has changed automatically, and that I am more patient because I am an older mother with life experience, or something. It was a conscious struggle. I did not always know why situations came, but it was important for me that I must persevere in goodness and love; then I often had to remain silent and suffer sin out.
“Without the message of the cross I would have been sad, full of hidden expectations and demands, not content with what was going on.
“The cross gives me joy, blessing and an inner peace. I am very grateful for the message of the cross.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Thank you, mom
Finally, I would just like to say myself: Thank you, dear mom! Thank you that you choose not to do your own will, but to crucify all that would otherwise have spoiled so much. Having a mother who every day systematically uses the cross, having a mother who chooses to suffer so that it can be better for us children, is something very great for me and certainly worth saying thank you for.
After this conversation, I have a greater desire to live a crucified life, so that my friends do not experience selfish and sad words and actions from me. I want to hate sin already when it comes up in my thoughts, so that after some years these sinfuldie completely and become silent. Then they will no longer bother me or those around me. I am thankful for “the message of the cross” and I will practice it in my life.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, unless otherwise specified. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.