I was in trouble. A powerful and intimidating employer was assigning me work that was immoral, a grave offense to the tenets we hold most dear regarding the dignity of the human person. When I expressed my objection, my boss looked at me as if I were insane. I was told that if I did not do the work, I’d be fired. I had a mortgage and your usual bills. The thought of losing my income was terrifying.
Understand, I consider myself a bit of a weakling. I hate confrontation and would do almost anything to avoid it. I know women who are truly warriors for the Church—that’s not me, at least not then. But there wasn’t a moment I considered obeying my boss, not a second. And though I was trembling the whole time, I was surprised at the strength and courage that welled up within me. Where could this resolve have come from?
Throughout this dreadful experience, I began to understand, in the tiniest way possible, Jesus in His agony in the garden. He would experience real terror, enough to sweat blood and beg earnestly for the cup to pass, but at the same time, there was absolutely no possibility He would offend his Father. No matter the cost or consequences. And what astonishing glories were unleashed upon the world because of His obedience, because He loved the Father more than Himself.
In the end, the law was on my side and I was moved to another department, but not without being shamed and ostracized. Still, there were many hidden graces. A few others found their way into my office and thanked me for taking a stand—they didn’t want to do that work either and now they knew they did not have to, and a tiny bit more of God’s glory was poured out into the world.
When I am in trouble, Lord, let me remember You in your agony. Let me remember the strength that was granted to You to accomplish the impossible. Let me remember that through the Sacraments, I can claim a share in this strength. And through my little acts of obedience, a little more grace and glory is broken over the earth that needs it so desperately.
Have you seen this depiction of the Agony in the Garden by Sassetta?
Liz Kelly is a jazz singer who fell in love with Jesus. She writes, teaches, offers spiritual direction and retreats with a special interest in helping women to flourish in their faith. She’s written six books, including the award-winning Jesus Approaches and the Jesus Approaches Study Supplement. And she still sings jazz, but mainly in the tub and while washing dishes. Find out more about her here.