Leave it at the Cross

We’ve recently had a falling out with a family member that has created quite a few sleepless nights for me. The crux of the difficulty has been that 1) we have had no communication from this family member, even to tell us what the problem is, and 2) we have never been asked for our side of the story. The second part is particularly hard for me because the source of the information being fed to the family member is a known offender (even to that family member!) of relaying neither full nor accurate information. What’s killing me is my strong desire to defend our reputation and at least be heard and understood. At the end of the day we can disagree, but I need to know that it’s with a complete understanding of the facts.

But none of that is going to happen.

So I’ve laid awake at night having those conversations in my head. And writing blog posts about the injustice we’re experiencing. And crafting emails to fire off in our defense.

Finally, sleepless and stressed out, I tried to figure out how to let it all go. I looked at my husband who has handled this whole ordeal with grace and forgiveness, but I still didn’t know how to let go. I prayed. I meditated on some Scripture. I pictured myself going up to the cross and laying down my burdens.

But after each time, I still feel the weight of them.

In quiet desperation, I cried out to God. How do I let this go? I want to, but just can’t seem to get rid of it! And what God revealed to me was this image: When I pictured myself going up to the cross, what I didn’t let myself see was that I sat down at the foot of it with my burden. I talked with Jesus about it. I shared with him what was inside. I told him I wanted to give it to him. And then I stood up, picked up my burden, and walked away. I never actually left it there.

Now, I don’t know if you’re a visual person like me, but the image was powerful for me. I immediate replayed the scene in my mind again, only this time I went through it slowly and deliberately. In my mind, I walked up a beautiful green hill to a simple wooden cross. I sat down at the foot in the soft grass, and set a backpack down next to me. I stared up at the cross for a few moments in wonderment. I inhaled deeply. Took one last look at my backpack. Got up and walked away. And I mentally pictured that backpack left behind at the foot of the cross.

When I opened my eyes, a peace settled over me like I haven’t felt in a month. Finally, I left my burden at the cross. I no longer felt responsible for defending my reputation; God took care of my future long ago. Pleasing the family member in this situation was not my primary concern; honoring my Father was.

It was a simple act: a little visualization. But it represented a major change for me. Now I know when I take something to the cross, I have to leave it there.

How about you? What do you need to take to the cross? What makes you hold onto those burdens rather than leaving them there?



  1. This is a GREAT visualization. I cannot tell you how many wise souls have told me to “leave it at the feet of Jesus” over one thing or another. I’d ask, “Okay, sounds great…How do I do that?” I don’t suppose I can be certain this is going to work for my tenacious little burdens that I can’t seem to release, (kind of like barnacles? Or leeches) but I like it a lot! I’ll be giving it a try. Thanks for sharing.

  2. meh

    I have been doing the Quaker “palms down, palms up” lately while praying…releasing and receiving. That physical action for me sounds like your visualization.

  3. The Lord gave me this Scripture this Sunday. It so blessed me as I struggled laying something painful down as you’ve had to do:

    “Now we pray to God that you do no wrong, not that we ourselves may appear approved, but that you may do what is right, even though we may appear unapproved. For we can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.”

    2 Corinthians 13:7-8.

    It helped me realize it was good for me to pray that whatever “enemy” I may have may do good. And it helped me to see that even Paul was misunderstood and unapproved.

  4. This is a bit different, but several months ago now, maybe close to a year ago, I read Henri Nouwen’s The Prodigal Son. Beside giving me sympathy and love for the younger son, beside convicting me of my elder brother attitude, the book challenged me to be the father. To be the one who loves unconditionally even when I’ve been the one who was hurt.
    Yeah, I’m still working on that one.

  5. spaghettipie

    K – I’d love to hear about your experience with it. At the same time, I certainly don’t offer the visualization itself as a “fix,” but rather a metaphor to urge us to evaluate whether or not we really are leaving our burdens.

    MEH – I’ve used that before, and I really like it. Thanks for the reminder!

    MD – Thank you so much for that verse. It is heartening to remember that Paul was misunderstood. I thought about that this morning when I started getting uptight about another situation.

    H – Oh, I loved that book! And what a hard calling. It’s so much easier to harden our hearts in the face of pain. The fact that God still expects me to love that family member (and all that entails!) is difficult.

  6. I’m going through the exact same thing, right down to the husband who has reacted with grace and forgiveness. Much sleep has been lost and that makes my days bad too. Our wayward family member is not a believer, so I try so hard to focus on what Christ looks like to them, through me. Also, I haven’t been leaving my burdens at the foot of the cross, I talk about it, dream about it, pretend I’ve done it, all the while feeling heavier than ever. Your writing is great, it feels good to see what I’m going through isn’t so abnormal and your visualization gave me hope.

  7. Thanks for that point of clarification! I can see how my words could have been interpreted that way, and believe me, I haven’t met a quick fix yet. Truthfully, I learned some time ago not to bother looking for one, either! My 1-liner comment (okay, okay, SIX-Liner. ha ha!!) couldn’t fully express that, but 100% agreed with you!

    Journey, it’s all about the journey. But this is a darned nice metaphor to accompany/illuminate the next leg of that journey. I really liked it, so thanks again!

  8. Sars

    I didn’t realize when I read this earlier today that I would be given the opportunity to put it into practice so soon. There’s a weight on my chest, and I need to leave it where it belongs. Thanks TH! Love ya’.

    p.s. This needs to be saved as a future devo!

  9. onevoice

    Love this, friend. I agree with sars, you need to piece this into something bigger. I felt like you were in my head as I read this; I’ve tried to write something similar to this before, but it didn’t come out quite so eloquent. And like you, I’m good at packing up my problem (identifying it), carrying it to him, discussing it with him, but in the end I usually pick it back up and walk away. What a heartbreaking picture…but thank you for it. 🙂

  10. With a husband who’s a pastor, this is VITAL for me to learn. And yet I’m like Mary, who “pondered these things in her heart”…only they’re not the GOOD things she pondered…but the wounds, the hurts, the broken places, and the desire to rise up and shout, FOUL! ERROR!

    What timely advice, and I too am very visual in my mind. I will treasure THIS in my heart and let God absorb it into my soul.

    Thank you!

  11. That is wonderful and I hope that his peace will continue to bless you. Leaving the burden there is often so hard to do and this visualization is a wonderful way to work through this moment.

  12. spaghettipie

    AK – I’m glad that it was helpful, and I will definitely remember you in prayer as well!

    K – 🙂

    S – Perhaps one day it will be a devo. . .maybe one even related to the Psalms . . .

    OV – It seems so silly that we hang onto it. I was back there again this week, and even saw myself struggling with Jesus over it (had to call in the big guns for my visualization!) – so ridiculous sometimes.

    D – Thanks for stopping by. And I am praying for you and all that’s going on with your health!

    M – I only hope it helps.

    Kel – Oh, man. Down right difficult. It’s a shame, really. Hope you’re settling in!

  13. Krista

    Don’t you love my 2 week old comments?? I always try to read it all– it just takes me a while. Beautiful “picture” written so well….
    I am sorry you have had to go through this icky time with the person.

  14. myheartblogs

    Dear one,
    This blog has blessed me sooo much. last night i was in tears..My heart was heavy n couldn’t get a wink of sleep… i prayed but still could let go of my worries.and somehow came across this lovely blog of yours.,and i left it at the cross . I’m blessed. 🙂 Thank you so much.
    With Love,
    My Heart.

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