We are in Holy Week now, when Jesus of Nazareth goes through his Passion, death, and resurrection. A crucial moment in this week is when Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, that famous prayer: “Let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, heavenly Father.” This is a point of spiritual freedom, at which Jesus prefers not to go through what’s ahead of him, yet he is free enough to let go of what he wants and do what is best. He understands that the Father’s love for him and the whole world will transcend the awful events to come.
You and I will not go through an experience as weighty as deciding whether or not to sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of the whole world—although the firefighter, the soldier, the police officer, and the resistance worker who protects the oppressed routinely sacrifices him- or herself for the greater good. But certainly each of us has Gethsemane experiences, some of us multiple ones in a lifetime. We want one thing, but this other, harder thing will be better in the long run. We want to make that person suffer for all the suffering he has caused, but it will be better overall to forgive and begin a healing process. We want the bigger salary, but say no to the job offer because of the disruption this particular job would cause our family.
Spiritual freedom understands that God’s love and blessing can rest on us regardless of circumstances. Therefore I can go this direction, or choose not to. I can follow what is appealing to me, or I can turn from that path and take another one because it is more just or kind or generous. When we reach this level of trust, to the point that we can walk away from seemingly good choices because they are not the best choices, we are in a position to know true contentment.
- When have you experienced contentment because you were free to make a difficult choice that was the best choice?
- What do you think is the difference between contentment and happiness?
- How would you describe being free to walk away from something you want? Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, what is that like for you?