A C C O M P A N I E D
My Favorite Lesson from Israel
The first night after moving away from home is truly the worst. The first night of college was different. I remember that even though I felt so strange and out of place, there was some bizarre comfort knowing that the girl sleeping five feet away from me was having the same anxious thoughts I was (not to mention the 500+ other nineteen year old females who inhabited Vail Hall, the freshman girls’ dorm at Samford). The first night you move away by yourself is not only different, but it is extremely painful. This past summer, I decided it was my destiny to intern in Atlanta for a designer whom I adored. It was all big, beautiful dreams until I was tucking myself in, in a house I didn’t know, in an unfamiliar metropolis, feeling like a five year old girl who wanted to go wake up her mom and crawl into her parents’ bed. I remember lying there thinking, “What the heck have I done? This is terrifying….I am terrified. I will never get used to this. Why didn’t I just stay in Birmingham?” Of course, I did get used to it, and I am actually going back. I am now enthralled with my life there, but I hate thinking back to having that feeling the first night. And, unfortunately, it is not an unfamiliar one. At the worst times in my life, I had the same thoughts but magnified ten times—complete loneliness. And the reason behind the loneliness—fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of problems that have yet to even bear the tip of their noses into reality. Loneliness is that feeling of evil when fear asks you, “Are you sure that this will work out? I don’t know. It seems like God doesn’t have a plan this time. No one is here but you.” And even though we know full well that God has always given us yet another stepping stone to move forward from the past, we suddenly refuse to even stick out our foot, betting that there’s no stone ahead. Fear of loneliness: it’s the root of the root of all that is evil on this Earth. It is scary and unknown, but the hope in the midst of the darkness is that Jesus felt it full well, too. Just like me. Just like you. He was there.
I’ve grown up in the church, so I like to think that I know my Bible pretty well. I had read and heard the story of Jesus in the garden multiple times. I could recite it for you in my own way, but there was a huge part of Jesus’ story that I had completely missed until I was sitting in the actual Garden of Gethsemane, alone on a bench in the back, reading Matthew 26:36-39.
Matthew 26:36-39 The Message (MSG)
36-38 Then Jesus went with them to a garden called Gethsemane and told his disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.”
39 Going a little ahead, he fell on his face, praying, “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?”
Somehow in twenty-one years I had missed the one line that changed everything: “My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this.” Jesus, fully human, and in my opinion, the closest to sin He ever was, pleading with God that there had to be another way than this immensely painful one. I used to think that those tears of blood were the start of Him taking on the sins of the world, but now I believe that they were tears of the utmost human emotional pain. Can you imagine how alone Jesus felt? Even with his closest friends with Him, they couldn’t stop falling asleep, leaving him with no comforting words that it was going to be okay, but probably with more doubts than before. He sees the temple fall in His visions, he sees His people who to this day do not believe He is the son of God, and all at once—it’s too much. He felt it all, and He broke. In some Biblical versions, the text even reads that He said, “This sorrow alone is going to kill me.” Honestly, I’ve never read anything more beautiful.
I used to roll my eyes when people would say, “Jesus has felt everything you’re going through.” I always thought to myself, “But Jesus never sinned? There’s no way He knows.” Now, however, I have the most beautiful picture of Jesus’ human understanding. Of all the times I’ve broken because it’s been too much, and said things to God that I should not have said, or questioned His sovereignty, I now know it looks much different than a Father disappointed in His daughter—because of Jesus dying on the cross for me, taking my place. I now picture Jesus at God’s right hand, looking down, agonizing with me, crying those same tears as in the garden, remembering Earthly pain and loneliness, saying to God, “That’s our girl. She needs us. That really hurts. I remember.” And He does the same for you. The accompany of a lifetime.
Infinite X’s and O’s,