photo credit: faithbarista.com {beauty in unexpected places. petals wet in spring}

I don't want to be one of those people.

Someone who is afraid.

Someone who can't deal with hard things.

Someone who has failed to overcome the things that could make me fall down.

But, here I was, unable to deny that -- I am afraid.

I'm discouraged and I can't find my way.

What I'm really trying to say -- what I'm terrified to face is this -- I can't make my place in this world.

And I'm afraid you're going to walk away from me.

You're going to turn your face away and shake your head.

And leave me here.

All alone.

Place of Empty

These are the words I found myself speaking in the dark room of my soul nearly two years ago.

When my panic attacks first began.

You would've never known I had truly felt this way. Because quite honestly, I had never allowed myself to stay in this place of empty for very long.

All my life, I've nurtured a determination to do whatever I could to never come close to this place of alonenness. I am a child of light. Why would I want to face into darkness? I believed that faith was relegated to creating a safe place for myself in this world and for the ones I love.

I never imagined that faith in Jesus is exactly what it takes to enter into this place of truth and vulnerability -- this place of empty.

By the grace of God, Jesus knew it wasn't time for me to fully be in that place for most of my life. Jesus gave me a growing faith to survive and empowered me to have great joy to do lots wonderful and beautiful things with Him -- and for Him -- to serve and love Him.

He's given me a deep passion to serve others, to enjoy people and extend an open heart of friendship, comfort and encouragement wherever I go.

But, Jesus somehow led me on a path He knew would place me at the doorway of fear and confusion.

Jesus knew I was strong enough to finally face the parts of me He wanted to love back to life: my wounded self.

And Jesus knew that I would no longer be able to provide for myself, using the strength and hope I've always drawn from.

He knew that I would no longer be able to create a safe place for myself in this world any longer.

Jesus knows because he's been there himself.

This place of alone.

This place of empty.

Heartsick

Did Jesus have panic attacks in the garden of Gethsamane?

I think maybe he could have.

"And being in agony... his sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." Luke 22:44.

Jesus had escaped to a private place where He felt safe. It was there Matthew tells us "Jesus fell on His face and prayed, saying "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me." (Matt. 26:39)

The Gospel of Mark gives us a private moment into Jesus we rarely talk about: "He began to be very distressed and troubled."

Overwhelmed by anxiety, Jesus confides to Peter, James and John. "My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death." (Mk.14:33,34) Jesus is utterly heartsick, down where pain has never reached before.

No Other Way

Even though Jesus was in total control of His choice to become the scapegoat for sin, Jesus cried out, "Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me...". (Mk.14:36)

If there was any other way out, He wished for it then.

But there wasn't any other way.

His cry has been my cry. God, please. Anything but this. Isn't there any other way?

Jesus knew He had to face the toughest journey: brokenness.

Even though Jesus placed Himself willingly in God's rescue plan before the beginning of time, Jesus stepped into the place of empty. (Phil. 2:5-8)

I imagine Jesus falling to the ground, struggling to breathe, choking waves of tears, his body shaking, hot from crying his eyes out, his chest hurting from the intensity -- and I ask, "How did you do it Jesus? How can I endure something so dark when I am not you?"

He Answers

Jesus answers me by allowing me to hear His voice -- thick with sadness -- crying in the garden of Gethsamne. "... yet not my will, but Yours be done." (Matt. 26:39, Mk 14:26, Lk 22:42)

You can accept this Bonnie --

because I know how it feels when God's plan leads the world to see you as wounded. Broken.

I will give you the courage to accept this. You don't have to be strong. I will be strong for you.

Jesus points me to the scene of his betrayal, when Peter tried to stop Jesus from walking down the path of weakness, "Put the sword into the sheath; the cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (Jn 18:11)

You can swallow this cup Bonnie --

because I drank from it myself. You don't have to fight it. It's time to drink it.

You can feel afraid with me. I will hold you and love you through it.

I look into Jesus' eyes. His gaze is aching. Tender with my pain.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, "Not my will...". Jesus had a will -- and it was contrary to God's will -- in that moment of suffering (Heb.5:7-10).

It is comforting because even as I took this cup in my hand, I didn't want it.

Jesus understands this tension.

He understands my dilemma and how it makes me feel ashamed because of it.

Time and Again

Unlike me, Jesus did not sin in His temptation to avoid the place of empty.

Jesus surrenders and says, "Not my will, but Yours be done."

I too want to be resolute like Jesus and face the reality of hard things. But, I want to do this act just once -- when in fact, it's time and again we fall and rise with Jesus.

From sun up to sun down, Jesus walks with us.

When we can't make a place for ourselves in this world, Jesus gently whispers --

Come here.

Into my arms.

You can always stay here. With me.

I am your place.

Forever.

Are you finding yourself holding a cup that you don't want to drink?

You don't have to want the cup in order to take it.

And drink it.

With Jesus.

Jesus folds your hand into His today.

Let's embrace the reality of what has happened -- what is happening -- and what needs to happen.

This is a new kind of obedience, one that our sweet Lord Jesus learned to embraced himself as well.

We don't have to be ashamed.

A Place For Us

No matter what is hurt or broken -- whether it's our childhood, a relationship, career, marriage, our children, health, finances or ministry -- our dreams or opportunities -- this place of empty is never out of His reach.

There is a place for us.

Jesus gathers us into His arms where we are truly safe. Safe to experience our traumas, safe to be real, loved and accepted.

I'm smiling, as I show you my tears. We're kindreds, you and me. We are both stepping into a place of vulnerability, so that we can feel the touch of His healing.

This is where Jesus is shining through -- with new strength and new hope -- to walk in new ways in this world.

You and I -- we are one of those people.

We are safe, hidden in the heart of Jesus.

You and I -- we have a story to tell.

Yes, you and I -- He's prepared a place for us -- the most beautiful place in this world.

It's Jesus in us.

"This hope we have as an anchor of the soul,
a hope both sure and steadfast
and one which enters within the veil [our hearts],
where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us..."
Hebrews 6:19-20

~~~~~

Where has the journey of faith led you today -- what is the cup before you?

What is Jesus saying to you in this place?

Pull up a chair and stay awhile. Share a comment below.

~~~~~

{ Today’s post is part of Bonnie Gray's  Lent-inspired reflections called {The Journey} series. Click here for read the entire series.  Lent means "The Way of the Cross".  In other words, Lent is "The Journey". May the quiet space here in this blog post provide a moment for you -- as we explore these Journey-Inspired prompts together.}  

Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest. (Revell Books. Pre-order today. Release date: June 3, 2014.)   

Finding Spiritual Whitespace guides readers on a journey to create space in life to slow down, feed their souls, draw closer to God and enjoy rest.  Through heart-breaking honesty and practical insight, Bonnie chronicles her unexpected journey through anxiety and painful memories, to discover a better story for her life, one that makes room for God, for beauty and rest, right in the midst of our stress-frayed everyday lives. 

Bonnie Gray is the soulful writer behind FaithBarista.com serving up shots of faith for the daily grind.  She is a contributor at DaySpring (in)courage and her writing has been spotighted by Christianity Today and nationally syndicated through McClatchy-Tribune News Services. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

** Don't miss! ** If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here.Click to subscribe by email and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.