I wasn’t excited to resume work after my mid-summer vacation.
In fact, I had a bit of a nervous breakdown the morning that the third week of summer camp, my first week as a counselor, began. My experiences with being a counselor last year were more or less a breeze; I had no major catastrophes and my campers were all cooperative. But I knew that the past isn’t always an indicator of the future. Between not having attended camp staff training and hearing horror stories from the first two weeks of camp, I had convinced myself that the coming week was going to be a nightmare for me. I spent about an hour panicking in BHPC’s chapel that morning, trying to pull myself together for the coming week and to tell myself that everything was going to be fine.
Here’s the thing about having anxious tendencies, though: No matter how much you tell yourself that things will be fine, your brain won’t believe you. It didn’t believe me that morning.
And here’s the thing about pleading with Jesus to make everything fine, like I did that morning: He might not.
I knew that He wanted me to drop my worry and to just trust Him. But whenever I asked Him if everything would be okay, I knew He wasn’t saying “yes.”
He instead said, “I can’t promise you that this week will be easy. I can’t promise that everything will go your way. All I can promise is that I have you through it all.”
As I took in those words, I realized something that shook me and unsettled me:
The Heart of Christ is not a safe place.
Safety means comfort. Safety means that nothing bad or harmful can happen to you. And Christ promises none of those things to those who draw near to Him and trust in Him. The history of Christianity makes this quite clear; consider all those who have suffered and died in the name of Jesus. Though they considered it an honor to endure that for Him, it’s hard to argue that they lived a safe or comfortable or easy life.
Christ doesn’t call us to be comfortable or safe, though. He calls us to be our best selves. And sometimes, that comes at a price.
I doubt I’ll live a similar life and meet a similar end to many of those saints, but my own little, ordinary life is still full of little, ordinary challenges. And in those challenges I’m faced with the same set of options: I can bow out or take the easy way, the way that will keep me safe and make my life easier; or I can choose what I know Christ is calling me to do, the thing that is best for me and others, even though it might stretch me or hurt me or inconvenience me.
That morning, as panic gripped me and a series of “what-if” scenarios for the week filled my head, the easy and safe thing to do would have been to run to my supervisors and tell them that I wasn’t ready to be a counselor. But Christ never presented that as an option as I sat in the chapel with Him. He instead presented me with the cup of His will—to face my fears and anxieties with grit and the trust that He knew what He was doing. And I knew that all He wanted was for me to take that cup and to drink it empty.
Though I was still hesitant and scared, I knew I couldn’t leave that chapel without taking that cup and saying, “Thy will be done.” And I knew that saying “Thy will be done” wouldn’t put an end to my worries and it wasn’t a contract with Him saying that He’d make my week easy. It was merely me saying “yes” to His plan, whatever that might be, and trusting that it was what He wanted. It was me giving up control and putting myself at the mercy of His will.
And losing control like that is hardly ever safe.