The Post – Agony in the Garden: If Jesus Needed To Do It, Why Do I Think I Don’t?

I was just looking over the “blog stats” page on WordPress for my blog – they’re not elaborate statistics, mostly total page views per day, what pages were accessed, and the list of search terms some people used when they stumbled across my blog. Amazing to me are the number of people who are looking for fiddler crab information. I will have to keep that in mind and remember to pass on any new things I learn, for their benefit.

I also spotted an unusual search term: “the agony in the garden.” My mind flashed immediately to all those Good Friday services in church, reading the various Gospels describing Jesus waiting to be turned over to the soldiers before His crucifixion. One of the things that always caught my ear in those gospels was the number of times Jesus kept asking His disciples to stay up with Him, be with Him, pray with Him, and how He complained to them when they kept falling asleep. I think what always surprised me was that Jesus almost sounded….whiny…scared…..human.

All through the Gospels as Jesus traveled and preached, He sounded wise, patient, compassionate, forgiving, amused, even angry….together. But weak? Frightened? At the end of His rope? Needy? He sounded almost like ….us.

Now most of us can’t stand it when we or the people around us act like that, never mind Jesus. Our immediate reaction is more like “get a grip,” “grow up,” “stop whining,” or my usual comment around the house: “You got a backbone?! Then use it!” I have to admit, I almost felt uncomfortable with this Jesus. He wasn’t ….perfect.

Maybe that was the point. I think He wanted to show us that EVERYBODY has their moments of falling apart. Sure, we can’t go around whining to everybody all the time about every little thing. But you know, life can be hard. Sometimes it can really suck. And sometimes, even grown adults want “Mommy.” They want to whine, stamp their feet, have a good cry, complain that it’s not fair. And sometimes grown adults are just plain scared.

Now the Catch-22 is that they don’t want to admit it or EVER let anybody else see that side of them. Nobody wants another to know our “shadow” side….see those moments when we’re not together, when we mess up, or are just plain needy.

My favorite Stephen King anecdote is when he tells of driving somewhere while his wife read one of his manuscripts. He kept glancing over at her, anxiously awaiting her verdict, until finally she snapped at him, “Will you stop being so goddamned needy?!”

The reality is, there’s not a human being alive who doesn’t have their “locked in the bathroom, crying behind closed doors, convinced you’re a failure, needy moments.” I think Jesus was telling us to stop pretending we have it all together all the time, because we don’t. Even He didn’t. He knew what it was to be human, to freak out for a few moments convinced you aren’t up to the task before you.

The thing about it is, when the time came, He was up to the task. Jesus even had the presence of mind to heal the man whose ear Peter cut off, and to tell Peter to put away his sword. I think Jesus is letting us know, it’s okay to fall apart sometimes…in fact, it’s probably necessary now and then to just break down and cry. Feel your fear, acknowledge your anxiety. Maybe it’s even empowering. Once you have felt those, the only way is up. You get up, you wipe your eyes, brush yourself off, take a deep breath, and get back to being a grownup…get on with the task you thought you couldn’t do. Because you can.

So I guess the agony in the garden was that Gospel reading that gave me permission to “not always have it all together.” Just remember to get back up after you finish crying. If Jesus can have His moments, it’s okay for us too.

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