PS 1:1-2, 3, 4 and 6
LK 9: 22-25
"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” I’ve often struggled with this means. Deny sounds like rejecting or giving up something. It sounds like I am supposed to give who I am, my individuality. It sounds like I am supposed to think only of myself as a child of God. Which is a good thing…?
But then, two verses later, Jesus asks “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” Well, rejecting myself sounds like losing it. Giving up my individuality sounds a lot like forfeiting.
In my struggle to understand this passage, I have reached the following conclusion: giving myself to God and striving to be seen first and foremost as His daughter does not mean that I am losing myself. Actually, it is the opposite. God created me as His daughter. That package has always included the things that make me unique, make me special. God gave me different strengths to bring people closer to Him. By choosing to see myself as God’s daughter above all else, I am choosing to embrace the gifts He gave me. Many of those gifts are the things that have made me into “myself.”
I think denying myself, then, is denying the parts of me that don’t bring me closer to God. Rejecting the selfishness, the bad temper, gossip, and unkind words. Giving up the things that distract me from being who God calls me to be.
Unfortunately, I am faced with the temptation to act against God multiple times every day. This is where taking up my cross daily comes in. Choosing to follow Christ’s example often means choosing the more difficult path, the less convenient one. It means constantly acting myself, “Will this bring me closer to God?” If the answer is no, then I think I’ve found something I need to deny, something I need to give up.
Stephanie Ebert is a senior studying mathematics. She plans to work as a math teacher in Catholic high schools after graduation.