When’s the last time you did “HARD”? I mean, something that really rocked your world, something new, something challenging? Regardless of how it went and what the outcome was, think back to the time leading up to it. Savor that moment right now and hang on to those feelings, sensations, thoughts of those preparatory jitters.
A good friend of mine did “HARD” this weekend. A mom of 7, she accepted the challenge to get back into shape by running longer distances after a few years off following subsequent births. So this summer, she took the plunge and signed up for a local 15k.
15k (9.3 miles) is no laughing matter. A person can’t just roll out of bed one day, wake up and say, “I feel like running 9 miles today!” (Or at least a reasonable person wouldn’t…) She made a training plan. She followed faithfully, as best should could considering the other demands on her time. She prepared for the big day by seeking advice and mapping her race strategy out in her mind.
But she still had that feeling of dread, the knot in the pit of the stomach. The “what have I gotten myself into?” The “am I really ready for this?” Or even, “Do I have what it takes?”
That’s a Gethsemane Moment.
Yes, Jesus was God and knew how it was all going to go down. He knew his sacrifice on the cross was his ultimate goal (it was his whole purpose for becoming one of us, after all.) But he knew his experience of it in his human flesh was going to cost him a lot. He even prayed for his father to take this cup of suffering from him! (Lk 22:40-42) His anticipation of all he was to encounter was so intense that his body responded in kind, by sweating blood. (Lk 22:44) Talk about hard…
He had a major moment of apprehension, a major realization of the immensity of the task before him and all that was at stake. A major “melt-down”, if you will. And he didn’t shy away from it. He didn’t minimize it. He saw it all, he accepted it all, even though it was big and gnarly and scary. And he stayed the course.
In our personal Agonies in the Garden, we can rarely see how it will all play out. The future is out of our hands; we cannot control it. Something big, gnarly or scary is coming our way, just outside of our reach. We can’t wrap our minds around it. We can’t understand it. The very thought of it is overwhelming, terrifying, It’s like a gigantic tidal wave on the horizon, inching ever closer, coming to take us out.
It could be as big as our baby’s impending due date: “How will this labor and delivery go? Will I have what it takes to embrace the suffering? Will everything go ok?” Or it could be gnarly, like having a difficult conversation with a fiancé: “Can I present this well and risk sharing my heart? How will he respond? Will our relationship be the same?” It could even be a health scare for ourselves or someone we love: “What will happen? What should I do? Why, Lord?”
While we can never know the future and what will happen, we do know the now. We know that God has brought us to this point, prepared us for this moment of HARD little by little. He is providing us with all that we need to step it up at this moment.
But (there’s always a but!)…we must accept. We must accept that He’s the one in control, that he is worthy of this trust. He’s done HARD and come out on the other side. We need only put one foot in front of the other, counting on him to be our eyes for the future, lighting the way only for our next step, counting on him to show us the path.
The next time you find yourself wallowing in dread of that next big thing to come, remember that you are not in Gethsemane alone. Join Jesus in the garden. Stay the course. Embrace the HARD.
And say with St. Joan of Arc, “I am not afraid. I was born to do this.”