During my season recovering from anxiety and panic attacks triggered by emotional post-traumatic stress from childhood, I became very sensitive to loud music.
Then, after a breakthrough of healing and my nervous system returned to calm, I wanted to hear the band Gungor in concert. I soon found myself standing in a concert hall next to my husband Eric on one side and two twenty-something girls on the other. I started chatting with them, discovering both were seminary students.
“What’cha studying? What’s next?” You might think people who look happy and perfect wouldn’t have hard stories to share, but they do.
The blue-eyed, blond-haired girl told me, “I’m not really sure what God wants me to do.” She paused. “I feel like I’ve been wandering.” She shared disappointments she was facing, and suddenly, it felt like no one else was in the room except us.
The pre-anxiety me would’ve given her cheerful advice. But now I see everything differently. I’ve learned that what we all need most deeply is to know we are not alone.
I reassured her, “The hardness of the journey doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong path.”
I shared my own broken-made-beautiful stories with her and the hard questions I asked along the way. I reassured her that when the world we live in doesn’t match the desires God puts on our hearts, we all feel a little lost and alone.
When I’ve stepped out in faith to offer something authentic from my heart yet faced rejection, I’ve asked God, “Is there anyone who will stay?” And during times I’ve been hurt, facing dead ends when I thought God would open doors, I’ve wondered, “Is there any other way?”
These were the same words Jesus whispered in a garden one night in Gethsemane into thick silence. Wave upon wave of questions poured out of Him. The dilemma of turning left or right was both as painful as it was unwanted.
“Is there any other way?” Jesus asked.
Jesus could have chosen to pray by Himself and hide this inner struggle. He often prayed alone. Yet on the worst night of His life, He needed someone to hold on to the hard moment with Him.
Jesus needed someone to stay.
He didn’t have a timetable to how long the journey of the cross would take, how long the beatings would last, how long He’d have to drag the cross inch by inch, with lashes cut deep in his back. He didn’t know how He would feel yanked around in chains, from one place to another, in sleep deprivation. But the certain pain and fear of what was to come brought Jesus to His knees — right where you and I sometimes have to go when we don’t know what to do.
Overwhelmed, Jesus turned to those closest to Him. He became vulnerable and let His disciples see Him as desperation filled the pit of His stomach.
Then he said, “This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me.” 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?”
Matthew 26:38-39 (MSG)
Jesus was intimately familiar with the pain of a journey unresolved. Yet, He did not yield to the temptation of hiding in shame. He, instead, yielded to the journey and invited others into His heart — willingly, lovingly, completely. For you. For me.
Beloved, Jesus walked willingly into the darkness long ago, so you don’t have to walk alone anymore. When you wonder if anyone will stay, don’t be afraid. God has redeemed you. He draws closer to you to whisper, “I have called you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1 NLT).
Stay right where you are and let Jesus hold you today. He is that Someone who will stay.
We don’t have to be alone anymore — even when we fall down and don’t know how to get back up. Jesus suffered for us, so that He can carry us through it all.
The truth is, in our wandering, we are never truly lost. Having Someone to hold on to changes everything. Having Someone love you in the waiting, in the suffering, strengthens you. When that Someone stays with us, we see that we are God’s beloved and that He is there to guide us.
So give yourself permission to grieve what’s hard. Don’t suffer alone. Confide in someone to stay with you in difficult moments. Begin with Jesus. Then share with a friend or two as Jesus did. And let love heal your heart.
Dear Jesus, I need someone. Stay with me. You understand my fears and my sorrow. Love me. Heal me. Take care of me. Guide me to the other side of my wandering. Strengthen me with your love, and give me courage to lean on You and say, “Not what I want but what You want.” Thank You for all You have suffered for me. Amen.
For more on finding peace, download a FREE six-week Breathe Lent devotional by Bonnie Gray here to help you draw closer to Jesus this Easter! Also, join Bonnie’s Stress Less Lent series on her wellness podcast BREATHE: The Stress Less Podcast. Listen and subscribe anywhere you listen to podcasts.