When I was asked to write this article, I thought it was going to be quite a cinch, relying on good old Erik Erikson to help me out. I was wrong. As I reviewed my life transitions, I had difficulty identifying my crosses. What kept coming to mind were not the challenges but the gratefulness for the experiences and of a sense God’s presence there.
In my young adulthood, during the heyday of my corporate life, I bore the cross of rejection and alienation. I would be at the office by 7:00am and leave at 7:00pm at the earliest just to cut short my travel time. It would ordinarily take 30 minutes without traffic but with all the flyovers being constructed then, it took me 3 hours to get to and my work from. This was not the crime I was accused of. My crime was that the moment I arrived in the office I would dive into work, diligently doing my tasks and putting things into order, hardly surfacing for air. I was not out to impress the big bosses. It just did not make any sense to me to remain idle when I was already in my workplace. However, the big guns noticed it and so my promotion came by leaps and bounds stepping over toes of my seniors without meaning to. Since I failed to establish close relationships with my colleagues because of my work style, I found myself resentfully weighed down by a cross of my own making. The weight was only lifted when I joined a faith community of young professionals. In a milieu where I was accepted and appreciated for who I am and whatever quirks I have, I learned the value of connection and affiliation. Maybe it is irony of fate or grace that they greet new members with the words, “Welcome to the cross.”
Now that I am in my mid-life transition, the cross that I bear is echoed in the film Passion of Christ when Jesus while carrying his cross on the way to Golgotha greets his mother Mary with the words, “See mother, I make all things new.” I get curiously fascinated and compelled to follow the promise of new things to come in the second half of my life but the real tug of pain in saying goodbye to significant relationships, a lifestyle I have embraced and death to an identity I have painstakingly established equally pulls me back. Motionless, I stand in the limen, the doorjamb between myself and I. Neither here nor there, I place my hope in Jesus’ to wait patiently for me immersed in the reality that I am in and for him to help me be aware of even ‘just a noticeable difference’ that would break the tension so that I may freely choose the ‘me’ what would lead me closer to him.
I am not yet in the late adulthood stage so I can only project it through the perspective of my parents. Today, their main concern is keeping their legacy alive. Finally accepting that I am a lost cause, they are already busy mapping out the lives of their grandchildren by training and positioning them in the business they have started from scratch. At first I thought the motivation was vanity, but then I realized that it is a natural concern for those with children to ensure a secure future for them. I do not have any children. So am I exempt from that? Not a chance. Neither did Christ have any biological children of his own but like his Father, he wanted to secure a future full of hope for his people that he even died on the cross to give us that. Well, that is a cross I am still staring at from a distance.
For the meantime, as far as I know, it is God’s hand that has brought me into this graced state of foolishness in following His son’s example of carrying the cross. And, it will be the same loving God who will give me the strength and courage to willingly embrace whatever cross I must carry, in any life transition he so blesses me with.
Marie S. Buhain holds an MA in Developmental Psychology from Ateneo
Graduate Studies. She is involved in retreat giving and formation for both lay and religious.