It’s not my Cross to Bear

Fatal flaw — a way of relating to others and to yourself that is divided and conflicted within your soul. From its root come all kinds of behavior that divides you from others, slowly kills your soul, and eventually ends in death. It comes out when you are stimulated by spirits in circumstances that are a familiar routine of your daily life... The feelings as well as the deeds themselves are very shameful to the one trapped by them, and very painful to expose to another person. The fatal flaw has a way of continually deceiving a person so that he cannot see or sense that flaw working inside his soul.
By the time I reached my early 20s, I’d had enough of the constant, agonizing struggle deep inside my soul. That struggle was about the things that always seemed to mess up my relationships with others. I couldn’t explain it, nor could I figure it out — it was just always there. This struggle had been going on ever since I could remember. But I didn’t want to remember. I wanted to forget. I was tired of trying to get it together in relationships. In fact, I was to the point where I was tired of relationships with people, period! I never dreamed that the root of the problem came from a fatal flaw in me.
I seemed to have lots of friends, but never thought they really liked me as much as they let on. Since childhood, I had always had the sense that there was something wrong inside me, but I couldn’t explain what it was. I was afraid to try. I just knew there were things about me that I didn’t like. I went off to college trying to hide those things. No one had any answers, so we all just pretended to have it together.
In 1969, I finally decided I’d had enough of living a “plastic life.” I took some hope in expanding my consciousness to find the answer to why I couldn’t love as I wanted to love, and why I always ended up divided from people, either outwardly or subtly inside. I was tripping one time in Knoxville with some people who seemed to have it together, a crowd I wanted to be a part of. We were all trying to be real, looking for answers, and openly talking about our struggle. We thought the psychedelic experience would get us past our “hang-ups” and set us free. At one point, a girl looked me right in the eye and said, “You’re just afraid to be real, man. You’ve got to be honest with yourself about what’s going on inside of you!” The thought terrified me. I didn’t even know how or where to start. I think she was reaching out to me, but all I felt was rejection.
Later on that year, I understood something that was undeniable. I was selfish to the core, and I was powerless to change. It made me mad and very, very frustrated inside! The hard part was that those selfish ways were a deeply woven part of the fabric of my character, of who I was. Even though I didn’t know how to define it at the time, the thought that I couldn’t change those ways in me made me very hopeless that I could ever be a person who could truly love others. This was devastating to me because I really believed that if human beings could truly love, they could change the world.
One summer, a few years, and many heartaches later, I lived with some friends in a college town in Tennessee. I had dropped out — no job, disillusioned, living on the edge. I knew the stuff that created the turmoil was actually inside of me, but it was easier to blame it all on the “Establishment,” or the war, or my daddy, or religion, or even God. I didn’t want to admit that I didn’t trust women, and at the same time took advantage of them, or that I was unfaithful and treacherous, much less insecure, or that my own selfish motives were what always messed things up. I don’t really know to what degree these things back then dawned on me, but when they did, I quickly pushed them aside, for it was too painful to go there.
There were never answers and the nagging questions never went away. Occasionally, I could come up with a great plan about how it could be with some new girlfriend, or get excited about traveling to a cool, faraway place. Still, I couldn’t see any real purpose for my life. All the opportunities seemed futile to me. One day that summer, I took a trip home to Chattanooga and found myself alone, not wanting to see anybody I knew. I didn’t want to meet anybody new either. I was just sick and tired of the struggle inside that always surfaced with people — pretty much anybody. I was alone. I loved it, and I hated it at the same time.
About this time, the Allman Brothers came out with their first album. A song on that album really gripped me. It was “It’s not my Cross to Bear.” It was a very deep blues tune that seemed to reach right to the core of where I was at. If you’ve ever heard that song when struggling with the fatal flaw that’s a part of who you are inside, that wrecks your life, that’s too big for you to handle and too complicated to understand, then the song probably had a deep effect on you, too.
The first time I heard it, the words of the song jumped out of the stereo speakers and right into my soul. The title gripped me the most. I knew that Greg Allman grew up in the stranglehold of the Bible Belt. Even the song title “It’s not my Cross to Bear” was a bold statement against Bible Belt Christianity, to say the least. I thought to myself that finally someone had enough guts to say it. The Christian message of the cross never gave anyone I knew the power to carry his own cross and conquer the fatal flaw within him, no matter how many times he asked Jesus into his heart.
I never found a remedy to the flaw that forever divides and crushes relationships, that keeps a person from loving in a way that bonds his heart together with others, and gives them the power to live together in unity. So, why should we shoulder the guilt of a heavy cross we cannot bear, when there are no real answers? Greg Allman raised a banner for all the world to see. To me it was an anthem against an unjust God portrayed by a powerless religion. Nobody understands this better than people raised in the South.
The words of the song brought the message home to me loud and clear. No longer did I have to “testify” about my “bad, bad misfortunes,” feeling bad about myself, or blaming others, nor did I even have to sit around “wonderin’ why” relationships went sour. I could just “live on” and “be strong... cause it just ain’t my cross to bear.” I felt justified to just get up and go when things got hard and painful... even when I hurt others, because I couldn’t change and if whoever made me this way didn’t have an answer, then “it just ain’t my cross to bear” came easily as my answer. I’m not responsible so I’m not going to feel bad about it any longer!!
The song communicated to me that Jesus couldn’t fix the selfish ways I hurt people, nor could he heal the damage from being hurt by others. The last verse shoved the door wide open for me to shake off the bonds of the struggle inside and suppress it so far down into my soul that I would never hear it again: “In the end, baby, long towards the end of your road, don’t reach out for me, baby, cause I’m not gonna carry your load. But I’ll live on and I’ll be strong, cause it just ain’t my cross to bear...”
This song became an anthem to me, a way of life, an excuse to justify my selfish, hurtful ways. It took away all personal accountability, or so I thought. I could finally live life on my terms, and ignore the struggle inside, and just get the most I could get for myself.
This way of thinking was a strong narcotic for me. It justified my hopeless feelings and gave me an excuse not to deal with the struggle inside anymore. It seemed to take away the pain for short periods of time, and it sure fit well with a life filled with sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. So I lived on and made myself so strong and so hard that when it came time to marry the woman that I really loved, really needed, and wanted to be with forever, all I could say to her concerning the vows was, “Vows? I can’t make vows. Nothing is forever!”
We got married anyway, but her trust in me could never be recovered. I have regretted that statement all the days of my life since then. How could a man be so proud and disconnected from his heart?
My fatal flaw finally destroyed my soul enough and broke my strength enough that I became increasingly desperate and needy. I ran into a group of people who were different. They had a quality about them that I did not have. They were warm, and they got along with each other. What really shocked me was their willingness to introduce me to the source of that life and make me a part of it. I asked them, “How did you get to be the way you are?” I didn’t want doctrines or philosophies; I just wanted the life they had. They told me that to get the life they had, I needed to surrender my life completely, give it up, and die to all my dreams and ambitions, and admit the fatal flaw that was destroying me. They told me that the life they had was the Spirit of Yahshua,1 whose very essence is love. I could sense their love for me. It made me believe that maybe God loved me, too. It gave me hope.
They opened my eyes to the fact that Yahshua was willing to bear the cross for the pain and devastation that my fatal flaw had caused in me and in countless people who had crossed my path. They let me know that if I called on His name with all my heart, and was baptized into the reality of His death, He would hear me and forgive me, and He would pour that love into me and make me a new person inside. I am so, so thankful that when He looked at me and all my shameful, selfish ways, He did not say, “It’s not my cross to bear.” He actually took my guilt, and became my fatal flaw, and let those selfish ways in me take Him to death2 in my place. Love like this was overwhelming.
Hope welled up inside me. With all my heart, I wanted to have that love. No price was too great. I was willing to do anything to have the life these people had. I wanted to be like them and like their Yahshua. I surrendered. I was saved from the lethal power of the fatal flaw that had divided me and wrecked havoc all the days of my life. Now I had the power of a love that was real and could overcome all those selfish ways in me.
But that’s not the end of the story!
I didn’t just live happily ever after. For 32 years now, I have lived together with those new friends in a common life of sharing. The everyday circumstances of our life bring out the effects of the remnants of that fatal flaw in my personality. Since that first day when I walked into that community at the Vine House in Chattanooga in 1974, I have gradually seen how I react to things that are uncomfortable for me, or that require something of me that I am reluctant to give. My initial tendency is to get mad or frustrated, and then get forceful and hard with the other person, or to withdraw and avoid contact altogether.
Living together the way we do in community, I can’t get away with this behavior for long. Instead, I have had friends who have enough love to be honest and at the same time to forbear with me, showing extreme patience. They never let me give up on myself, and they always encourage me. We all live this way with one another. This is the reason the fatal flaw of fallen man does not divide us. We are learning to be humble in the face of the effects of this flaw in our lives, and to turn to one another. His love in the hearts of our brothers and sisters heals us.
It takes a long time for love to penetrate the hard shell of the fatal flaw and get to its roots embedded deep in our soul. There are a lot of excuses, blaming others and getting offended, that are integral parts to the fatal flaw in all of us. The real, convincing testimony to the world that Yahshua is real is the love that His disciples have for one another.3 This love breaks through all those ways that divide us, and reaches down to the root and starts healing us in our soul, deep inside. This love and healing bonds our hearts together in an undeniable and visible unity. When the world around us sees that love and unity, the people will know that God sent His Son to save them from their fatal flaw, and that He loves them the same way that He loves His Son and His people.4
There must be a therapeutic healing environment for all this to take place. That environment is the common life together in community that this love always creates. We all have a need for God’s love to reach us. That’s why we must live together daily, so it can reach deep enough to heal us. It’s not enough to merely die and go to heaven someday. That mentality doesn’t change anything or anybody. We must be a people that are transformed from the inside out to actually love as He loved. The world must see a demonstration of this in order to have a basis for hope. And a just God needs this demonstration to be seen by the whole world as a light to them, to give all men and women everywhere the chance to be saved, really saved. This demonstration that proves God’s love for mankind, that justifies Him in a sick and dying world that just can’t get along, is what will usher in a new age where this love will rule supreme.5
I still see the remnants of that fatal flaw in me every day. I’m learning to bear the cross of admitting it and humbling myself. It’s encouraging. The ways it comes out of me are not so strong now. My fatal flaw is losing its grip on my soul. I’m learning how to love as my Savior, Yahshua, when I judge that flaw rising up inside, and surrender to the truth that this way is in me. God’s love in my brothers and sisters makes me secure enough to do this, to know I won’t be rejected or cast out. Then God helps me. His love comes to me faithfully, every day, usually through my brothers and sisters who live with me every day, and who have this special love that only comes from God poured out in their hearts. That love is the only thing that is healing my fatal flaw all the way down to the root.
~ Eddie

Lyrics for: It’s Not My Cross to Bear

Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I have not come, yeah, to testify,
About our bad, bad misfortune,
And I ain’t here a wonderin’ why.
But I’ll live on, and I’ll be strong,
Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear.
I sat down, and wrote you a long letter,
Was just the other day,
Said as sure as the sunrise, baby,
Tomorrow I’ll be up and on my way.
But I’ll live on, and I’ll be strong,
Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear.
Oh, no.
Oh, but I’ll live on, and I’ll be strong,
Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear,
Yes, now, baby.
But in the end, baby,
Long towards the end of your road.
Don’t reach out for me, baby,
Cause I’m not gonna carry your load.
But I’ll live on, and I’ll be strong,
Cause it just ain’t my cross to bear.
Yeah, yeah.
Find someone else, baby.
Yeah, yeah...

  • 1. Yahshua is the original Hebrew name of the one called Jesus in most English Bibles; see also The Name Above All Names.
  • 2. Not merely dying, but descending into Sheol, the realm of death, a place of torment (Luke 16:28) where the disembodied souls of those who have died must pay the wages of their sins, facing their guilt for the ways they ignored the voice of their conscience, and taking responsibility for the damage inflicted upon others by their words and deeds. It was not only on the cross, but even more so in death that Yahshua suffered in our place.
  • 3. John 13:34,35
  • 4. John 17:21-23
  • 5. Matthew 24:14

The Twelve Tribes is a confederation of twelve self-governing tribes, composed of self-governing communities. We are disciples of the Son of God whose name in Hebrew is Yahshua. We follow the pattern of the early church in Acts 2:44 and 4:32, truly believing everything that is written in the Old and New Covenants of the Bible, and sharing all things in common.

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