By Francis Ewherido
Some weeks ago, I wrote that love is an ocean, given different meanings and interpretations. Today, I am exercising my freedom to license love as a cross. But even love as a cross has diverse meanings. Check out some of the definitions and perceptions of a cross: “An upright post with a transverse bar, as used in antiquity for crucifixion,” “something unavoidable that has to be endured,” “sacrifice,” “necessary burden.”
First, a lawyer in the Bible asked Jesus the greatest commandment in the law to test him. Jesus responded:”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’” (Matthew 22: 34-39).
Consequently, Christians see love as vertical (love for God) and horizontal (love for fellow human beings). Just as the vertical and horizontal wood or metal come together to form a cross, so also love for God and love for fellow human beings define the whole essence of love.
Two, a cross is “something unavoidable that has to be endured.” Love is endurance. St. Paul talked about love being kind, patient and forgiving (1 Cor 13); you need endurance to be able to love in this regard. Any sincere married person will readily agree that because we love our spouses, we endure many unpalatable things that are avoidable and unavoidable in marriage. We endure the bad and the ugly of our spouses. It is unbelievable what many spouses endure in their marriages.
Three, love is a cross and both love and cross are necessary burdens. Nowhere is this more obvious than families. Some couples gave birth to mentally and physically-challenged children. Some of these children cannot function without one form of assistance or the other.
Interestingly, some of these parents knew of these challenges in the early stages of the children’s lives. They knew they were going to be burdened for life; they knew they were accepting life-long crosses. They could easily have quietly snuffed the lives out of these children without raising eyebrows. Yet they opted for the difficult path because of love; love is a cross.
Still on necessary burdens, having two people from different backgrounds spend the rest of their lives together is a very difficult task. Even the most perfect of marriages are still unions of imperfect people. How many times have you been driven up the wall so high that you wonder what came over you that blinded you to walk down the aisle with this crazy man/woman? You wonder why your spouse still does the same thing you have always resented 30 years after marriage; you wonder why your spouse cannot give up those terrible habits.
“How could I not have noticed that this man/woman is so inconsiderate,” you ask yourself. The questions are legion, sometimes they apply to many marriages, some other time, they are peculiar to a few marriages. But the bottom line is the same: love is a cross and because you love, you carry your cross.
Four, love is a cross and a cross symbolizes sacrifice. Nowhere is this more obvious than in Jesus dying on the cross. In doing this, He became the sacrificial lamb that took away the sins of humankind once and for all. Many people, occupying exalted positions today, achieved those feats because their parents and family made sacrifices.
They denied themselves basics and sometimes luxuries to give them good education. Many married people today have experienced change of specie. They are no longer what their spouses married due to physical and mental conditions. Some cannot fulfill their marital obligations to their spouses; others cannot fulfill their financial obligations to their spouses and families. Some have been ravaged by debilitating ailments and are now shadows of what they used to be. But their spouses are still there for them because of love. Love is a cross.
Five, you are not in the mood, but your spouse is. What do you do? You give it to him/her because love is a cross and a cross means sacrifice. You are very tired and all you want is a good sleep, but your friend has invited you for a function. You drag yourself up and head for the function because you love. Love is a cross.
The father of a close friend has died and the burial is this weekend. You are financially stretched and the last thing you want to do is take a trip outside town. But you scrap all your money, home and abroad, together and make the trip. Why? Love is a cross.
In school some students had to split their allowances with friends from poor homes and that is how some of the big men and women you see today from poor backgrounds got educated. Was it convenient for the benefactors? Not necessarily, they did it because love is a cross, aka selflessness.
My late father was going for an important engagement when he was accosted by relatives of a woman in labour by the roadside. He obliged them, but the woman delivered right there in the car before they got to the hospital. Mind you, this was in the 70s when car upholstery was mainly made with fabric; leather was a rarity.
By the time they were done with cleaning the car seat, the appointment was over. Why would he allow such a messy and bloody exercise take place in his car? My father knew love is a cross and lived it. Our world will be a much better place if we live and carry our crosses of love.