It has been almost nine years since I lost my son. Loss affects us all. While I want to say I pray you never experience loss and heartache like losing someone so close to you – the reality is that you likely will.
When Charlie died, everything changed. What I thought my future was to be was forever altered. Instead of looking forward and seeing a clear, beautiful picture of my family, now all I saw was emptiness. Blank space. Like I had stepped off the edge of the world and was just floating among a cloudy wasteland of interrupted dreams. This is what happens when you lose someone that was supposed to be with you for the rest of your life. Someone who WAS your future. And when your future is gone…you quickly lose hope.
I did a lot of searching and studying – trying to understand where I was, what I was feeling and mostly how to move forward. I journaled, sought counsel, read books and my Bible, spoke with pastors and friends and colleagues. Nothing brought peace. Nothing brought hope. I was just spinning in a circle, trying to find something to steer me straight.
I found Jesus, crying.
Someone (I cannot remember who or I would totally give them cred) pointed me to Gethsemane. As you can imagine, the thought of reading about Jesus just before He was going to die was less than appealing. I didn’t want anything to do with death, or stories of death, or thoughts of death. Nevertheless, I opened my Bible and started to read those quick 10 verses. (Mark 14:32-42)
The story starts just after the Last Supper. Jesus told his favorite peeps that he was going to die and one of them was the betrayer. They were in shock and no doubt confused – maybe even starting to doubt their own life’s purpose and point. Jesus, I imagine, needed some downtime after telling his dearest friends that he only had a few more moments with them, so he took a walk to Gethsemane. At this point, his disciples were glued to him certainly terrified he would leave them at any moment. He turned to them and said (allow me to paraphrase), “Guys, I just need a few minutes. Hang here I will be right back.” (v32) Then he took three of his closest peeps (Peter, James and John) aside to have a chat. (v33)
Jesus was vulnerable.
As he stepped away from the group with His closest friends, his inner circle, the weight of what was happening began to set in. The Bible says He became deeply troubled and distressed. With His besties by His side, He opened the floodgates of His emotions and confessed how he REALLY was feeling. To the others, He was strong and confident in what the plan was and how it was playing out. He was their leader. He was the example. With the inner three, he allowed His vulnerability to show.
He said (again, paraphrase), “Dudes, I am in bad shape.” The actual words recorded were “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” (v34) Crushed with grief to the point of death. That’s pretty bad shape. Have you ever felt that way? Like your soul was completely crushed, squashed into oblivion and that death sounded better than feeling this pain? I’ve been there.
Stay with me.
The amazing part is the next statement He made. He said, “Stay here and keep watch with me.” Even Jesus didn’t try to go through it alone. He brought His friends into His grief and said Stay With Me.
We think that grief, suffering, loss, pain is just for us to bear. Alone. Singly. Because we love others, we don’t want them to hurt like we hurt. So we hide it and keep it to ourselves. Jesus showed us the way to handle grief, hurt, suffering and pain. He showed us that there are those we must be strong for, that we need to model the way for and encourage and minister to in times of hurt and pain. That there is a time to be strong and confident and to serve others even while we hurt.
But He also modeled that there is a time to be vulnerable. To open ourselves up to our inner circle and allow them to help us heal. To share our true feelings and then ask that they stay with us. We have to be vulnerable and allow others to minister to us and to serve us in order for us to heal.
Just to be clear – this is Jesus we are talking about. He was all God and He was all man. He could have called it all off. Thought of another plan. Let the world suffer and die without a Savior – He had that choice! He chose instead to follow the plan – the only plan that would save the world. And He chose to let his inner circle be there for Him. Support Him. Listen to Him. Pray for Him. Serve Him. Love Him.
This is just the beginning of the story of Gethsemane. The rest of it is full of even more lessons, but those are for another blog. What I want you to get from this is that Jesus was just like you. He had roles to play and people to be strong for and lead. And He did it well. But He also allowed Himself to be vulnerable with His inner circle. That act of vulnerability brought peace and healing to all involved.
Look to Jesus for the example on how to cope with unimaginable circumstances.