Disciples of Jesus are called to follow him, taking up our cross.
Because the freedom and desire to follow Jesus flow from Jesus’ own unique and unrepeatable bearing of his cross on our behalf, his invitation is a call to recognise that our burdens are real, but they are borne in the life that Jesus has won for us.
Being a disciple of Jesus does not free us from everyday burdens and cares, nor does it mean that we are free of pain or distress.
Rather it enables us to acknowledge them from the perspective of their being borne in Jesus.
From Henri Nouwen:
To “take up the cross” does not mean to look for pain. It doesn’t mean to go after the cross. It does not mean to search for a problem. We have a lot of problems. We don’t need more. Sometimes we think that to “take up the cross” means to be hard on ourselves. That is not what Jesus says. To “take up the cross” means first of all to acknowledge where we are suffering, to recognise it.
Jesus says, “Take up your cross.” He didn’t say, “Make up your cross.” He said, “Take up your cross,” and this means to have the courage to see your pain.
Henri Nouwen, Following Jesus, SPCK, 2019, pgs 81,82.