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After labeling the uninvited and unwanted circumstances in her life as a cross, Jen Scheuermann sees the grace available to help her carry it. 

I didn’t see it coming. 

It was a diagnosis I didn’t expect. An unforeseen storm on our horizon. One that developed slowly, intermittently filling our home with fierce rain and howling winds.   

As I’ve watched my husband struggle through this diagnosis, I’ve questioned God about His plan. More often, though, I’ve begged God to help me love my husband through this diagnosis. To help me be the caretaker he sometimes needs while still being the wife he deserves. And considering my other vocations of motherhood and healthcare provider, I’ve reduced my identity to that of caregiver, assuming God created me for the purpose of caring for others. So I’ve pushed my feelings aside, declared “Thy will be done,” and worked hard to fulfill this calling.   

Now as a healthcare worker, I know a patient is not their diagnosis. But experience has shown me that living with someone is not the same as seeing them during an office visit, and being someone’s wife is very different from being their healthcare provider. And if I’m honest, some days the line separating my husband from his diagnosis is pale and blurry. 


In sickness and in health. 

The weight of my anger and exhaustion crushed me, and I sank to the bathroom floor. The last few weeks had been particularly challenging, and feelings I’d worked to ignore now bellowed, demanding my attention: 

I didn’t ask for any of this, I silently screamed as tears ran down my face. This wasn’t what I pictured when I said “I do.” Some days my marriage is the hardest part of my life. 

No sooner had I acknowledged these feelings, a scorn-filled voice whispered:  What kind of woman speaks this way of her husband and marriage? Your husband did not choose this path; your marriage is a blessing.  

Shame and sorrow filled me. I didn’t want to claim these feelings. But slowly I realized ignoring them was crushing me. 




Calling it what it is. 

With no doubt I’d marry my husband a thousand times again. But this diagnosis that came with him? I didn’t choose it.    

It was unexpected. Uninvited. Unwanted.  

Neither my husband nor I can change it.  

Viewing it in this light I realized: This diagnosis is a cross.    

But can I claim my husband’s cross as my own?   

Drowning beneath my shame and these questions, I reached for a lifeline. Opening the notepad on my phone I began to type, finally giving voice to all of my hard feelings. Tentative at first, my fingers soon gained speed, pulling me to shore. 


Walking in truth. 

God met me in my keyboard that day, and as His fingers touched mine, He reminded me of the beautiful, but sometimes painful, truth of marriage: Through this sacrament my husband and I have become one. That which affects him absolutely affects me. Therefore, I can—and should—consider this unexpected, uninvited, and unwanted diagnosis of his to be a cross I’m also asked to carry. But our marriage sacrament does more than unite us. It also makes available the grace we both need to walk this difficult road together. 

In the following months God continued to chase me with Truth. Books, music, homilies, podcasts—He used it all to remind me over and over that I was created first as His beloved daughter for the purpose of being loved by Him. Yes, I’m called to care for those around me, but this never defines me. Recalling my true identity and rooting myself in Truth helped me see the shame surrounding my hard feelings was never from God. And slowly, the weight that was crushing me got a little bit lighter.  




A new day. Another storm. 

It’s raining again, and I can hear the wind. The storm is strengthening. In some ways not much has changed since I purged the contents of my bruised heart into the notepad of my phone: I still consider my husband’s diagnosis a burden I never asked to carry.  


Click to tweet:
This cross is a burden I never asked to carry. But sometimes, when I lift it, I can feel Jesus’ hand brush mine. #CatholicMom

But in other ways, everything is different ... 

I have a little more patience when I used to snap. I have a little more energy when I was once exhausted. And it’s a little easier to remain present when I want to retreat.  

Perhaps my heart shift stems from remembering my true identity as Christ’s beloved. Perhaps it’s because I now recognize the enemy of my soul as the real source of my shame. Or maybe it’s because I’ve finally allowed myself to consider this impossibly heavy load as a cross. Because only after doing so was I able to lay down my self-sufficient spirit and open my heart to receive the grace He offers. And His grace—it helps carry my cross when it’s crushing me. And it carries me when I can’t take another step.  

It’s true: this cross is a burden I never asked to carry. But sometimes, when I lift it, I can feel Jesus’ hand brush mine. And in those moments I know the truth: This cross is a burden I am blessed to help carry.  



Copyright 2023 Jennifer Scheuermann
Images: Canva