Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” 39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Matthew 26: 36-39
If you are not happy where you are right now, chances are you are not accepting the reality of your feelings and you are looking for an easier, softer way out of your pain. But what if the way out was through the pain?
Jesus shows us the way, right here. Feeling the scene in full detail, can you imagine it? Jesus, knowing what lies ahead, the pivotal moment in human history where He was entrusted with the brutal mission of sacrificing himself, was pleading with the Father. Take this cup of suffering..but not my will, yours be done.
The feelings of anguish and distress almost crushing Him. Knowing His body was about to be brutalized and killed, and not because of anything He had done, but out of love for us, must have been so gut-wrenchingly near impossible to endure.
I mean if you knew today, that at some point while you were out, you were going to get punched in the face, at random, would you stay home? I would! Just the thought of it makes me scared. But Jesus didn’t give in to fear. He walked straight into it.
He is so in touch with his feelings that he tells Peter, James and John that His soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. He goes into the pain, acknowledges it and accepts it. He even tells the Father, “Hey Dad, this is how I really feel. I don’t want to do this. Can we try another way? Please!”
And then He surrenders, “…ok I know I don’t want to, but I’m willing to.”
Anguish and distress are pretty descriptive feelings. To me, they signify a moment in time when you are standing on the threshold looking at what lies ahead and having to make a decision. Do I face the fear or do I run? Do I accept reality or do I avoid it? Do I go back into denial or do I get honest with myself?
Jesus had to make those very same decisions in that Garden. No one was making Him stay there. He could have bolted and said, “This is too much. I’m not doing it!” I truly believe that was a legit option for Him. Which makes the story all the more incredible. Jesus had total free will, like we do, and He had to make decisions from His humanity, to follow the Father, just like we do.
He faced His fears and followed the Father despite His feelings.
There are moments in time when anguish and distress are heightened in our lives and in those precious moments of awareness we have the opportunity to face the fear and head straight into the problem trusting the Father.
We also have the opportunity to allow the moment to subside, those uncomfortable feelings to pass and then return to homeostasis. It’s our choice.
Will you face your fears of the unknown? Or will you run and hide and return to status quo? Where do you truly need to accept, not avoid, reality? What can you do to get out of denial, surrender your will and trust the Father?
What conversations do you need to have that you have been avoiding? What realities do you need to accept in order to change them? It’s time to get out of denial and stop pretending that if you do nothing things will change. If nothing changes, nothing changes. Things may settle for short while, but the patterns will resurface. And you’ll have a new chance to feel the feelings and face the fears…or avoid the fight again and run and hide.
I am working on this. I bet I’ll always be working on this. I don’t want to feel the feelings of discomfort. But it’s part of life. Aiming for a pleasant distance is not truly living.
Feeling the feelings, facing the fears, focusing on the Father, finding a new focus and then forging ahead to a new frontier. That is the journey of faith.
If you choose to accept it!