Why are we humans so attached to our problems? I suppose it could just be me, but even with all the spiritual self-discipline I have at times, sometimes I still struggle and grapple with a problem until it’s too painful to handle anymore before I will let go.
The thing about letting go is, even though it usually happens while one is at the edge of the pit of despair, the relief is immediate and palpable.
I had a particularly emotionally difficult night a couple of nights ago. So many things coming at me from multiple directions. Way more than I could process and expect to sleep at all before work. By the time I got home, less than 4 hours before I was supposed to be at work, I was freezing from walking outside for a couple of hours and my heart was heavy. I got into bed trying to warm up, but lay shivering for some time. As I was lying there hoping to settle down enough to go to sleep, I experienced a moment of grace.
My thoughts were racing from an earlier interaction with a friend that caught me off guard. I was crying. And I realized that, with regard to the particular situation that was troubling me, I have no answers anymore. It needed to be turned over to God. Trying to figure it out, which is something I have been putting effort into for far longer than just recently, causes distress.
When I reached the end of my rope, I prayed…in the name of Jesus, something I haven’t done in a long time because I am no longer a member of a church and I don’t consider myself a Christian by the standard definition. What happened was a small miracle. It was after 3 a.m. and I get up for work at 6 a.m. I was tearful and cold and felt very alone. It was one of those situations where I could have lain awake for hours, but knew I needed at least a little sleep to be able to do my job. So I simply said: I am out of answers, this situation requires grace, not obsessive worry. Jesus, please take this burden from my heart so I can rest a few hours before work. Then I fell asleep.
It was amazing because the effect was immediate. I said the prayer, closed my eyes and went to sleep instantly. I don’t fall asleep that easily on a normal day when everything is good. I’ve always had trouble shutting my mind off. I feel tremendous gratitude for this miracle.
Two very big lessons came to me from this experience.
The first is that even though it can feel uncomfortable, that dark place, the place of despair where you’ve run out of ideas, that’s not a bad place…unless you stay there spinning your wheels. That moment is the moment of grace, if you are willing to receive it. If you are willing to truly let things go and put no more energy into struggling. It’s really quite beautiful.
The other insight I gained from the experience is just because I am not a Christian by other people’s standards does not mean that I am no longer allowed to call upon the name of Jesus. That is a relationship nobody can take from me and I should never have given it up voluntarily.
Because of my understanding of religion and metaphor, it should have been clear to me that the name of Jesus does not belong to anyone exclusively. Jesus belongs to anyone who anyone who wants to connect with him.
In the truly difficult moments I am always somehow reminded that I am not alone. For this I am eternally grateful.