Cross to Bear – Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

We’ve all heard the phrase “a cross to bear” at some point in our lives, right? But have you ever stopped for a moment to think about what it actually means? Is it a physical cross that you carry, or does it solely have a metaphorical intent? I’m about to break down the details of this proverbial phrase and show you its history and how you can use it respectfully in a sentence.

Meaning of a Cross to Bear

Cross to Bear Origin Meaning

When you say you have “a cross to bear,” you’re referring to some sort of burden or something difficult you have to deal with. In English, we use the phrase to describe a personal struggle or challenge that we have to face but can’t easily overcome.

This could literally range anywhere from a chronic illness to a troubled relationship to financial difficulties or any other type of obstacle that’s there to endure.

For example, I have something called Meniere’s disease. It’s an awful chronic condition that gives me regular vertigo and tinnitus. My friends and family always ask what they can do, but I just say, “it’s my cross to bear,” and there’s nothing anyone can do to help.

Is It “a Cross to Bear” or “Bare”?

Before we touch on this phrase’s history, let’s clarify how you should be spelling it. The correct phrase is “a cross to bear,” not “bare.”

Sure, it seems like a teeny difference, but the meaning is completely changed when you swap in the word “bare.” “Bare” means to be naked, and “bear” means to carry weight or some sort of burden.

The Origin of the Phrase “a Cross to Bear”

The origin of this powerful phrase can be traced back to the Bible when Jesus was forced to drag and carry his own cross to the site of his own crucifixion. This act has since been changed to a metaphor to describe the trials and tribulations we must endure.

Cross to Bear Synonyms

If this phrase is too heavy or powerful for the context you intend to use it in, try some of these acceptable alternatives that hold the same meaning.

  • Burden to carry
  • Heavy load
  • Hardship
  • Obstacle to overcome
  • Trial
  • Problem to face
  • Challenge
  • Struggle
  • Suffering

Using a Cross to Bear in a Sentence

Cross to Bear Origin Meaning 1
  • My chronic pain and misery of living with Meniere’s disease is a cross to bear, but I try to stay positive.
  • Losing my job is my cross to bear, but I’m using this opportunity to start my own business.
  • Going through a divorce is the cross I bear to get away from this toxic relationship, but I know I’ll come out stronger on the other side.
  • Living with anxiety is a cross to bear, but I’m learning to manage it through regular therapy and a ton of self-care.
  • Overcoming addiction is a cross I bear, but it’s worth it to live a healthier and happier life and to have the opportunity to help others.

Use This Powerful Phrase With Respect

So, that’s a wrap on this proverb. I hope I helped shed some light on its roots and how you can use it in a respectful way. Never use it lightly or to poke fun at its origin. We all have a cross to bear in some form or another.

Want to know more idioms? Check out some others we covered: