At My Breaking Point

throwing rock into water

This post is based on Week Seven of An Ignatian Prayer Adventure.

I felt the hard, cool rock in my hand. I slowly felt each bump and groove with my fingers as I attempted to stuff the intense feelings that were welling up within me. Despite my best efforts to hold them back, tears poured down my face as a wave of emotions surged. The mixed feelings of sadness and anger boiled over as I took the rock in my hands and hurled it into the lake in front of me. Without thinking, I yelled, “Enough! Enough, Lord!”

The release, both of the rock and my emotions, startled me. I fell to the ground and put my head on my knees and sobbed. I hadn’t planned on facing the reality of all that had transpired in the three months prior to my silent retreat. The silence and stillness, though, brought me face to face with it all—the shooting, caught on video, of a man in my hometown; the shooting and killing of cops minutes away from my home; the massive flood that impacted the Baton Rouge area and required us to rescue my parents by boat; and the diagnosis of a family member with terminal cancer.

I was at my breaking point. I could no longer stand the suffering and hurt I was watching and experiencing. Too much loss around me, too many unexplained behaviors, and too much pain. I had enough.

I felt like Jesus as he prayed in the garden, begging God to take it all away, pleading for the hurt to stop in me, in my loved ones, and in our world. I was acknowledging both my sadness and utter dependence on God as I surveyed so many situations that were completely out of my control.

As my sobs slowly silenced, I heard three words, “I am here.” I then kept repeating them over and over again in my head, changing them to, “Jesus is here, Jesus is here, Jesus is here.” At some point the inner anguish of that moment subsided, and I felt a calm come over me, a felt sense of peace. I stood up and walked back into the retreat house, not with prayers answered or clarity on what to do, but with an assured confidence I was not alone. Jesus was with me in what felt like darkness.

It reminded me of Pope Francis’s words in Lumen Fidei:

Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.

I have replayed that scene over and over in my head and returned to it in prayer time and time again since it first happened. That release, as startling as it was to me, opened up my capacity to notice the accompanying presence of Jesus. I more easily can see Jesus with me in my prayer, working through others, and in the actions I feel called to take in response to the suffering I see. And on days I struggle to see it, I remind myself: Jesus is here.

About Becky Eldredge 120 Articles
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

6 Comments on At My Breaking Point

  1. Dear Becky,
    My heart resonates with this today, having lost 2 close relatives within 9 days of each other. Your reflection really speaks to me of the graces of the third week; we walk with Christ, crucified.

  2. This so evocatively captures that moment when we surrender to acknowledge the trials and losses of this world. To survive, we fight against them, pushing the emotional and spiritual reality back in order to get by, and perhaps in fear that there is no one to whom we can turn.

    And then we learn: the Lord steps in. Not with magic but with presence.

    That knowledge, “I am here,” is that peace that surpasses all understanding. Pain is fleeting, sorrow mutable, but the quiet joy of that peace is eternal.

  3. Thank you! The feelings you expressed are how I am feeling as I grow old and physically challenged and feel very much on my own. I know that Jesus is with me, just sometimes, wish there was some earthly family here to be with me also. Beautiful Reflection Becky. WELL DONE! I think of Jesus in the Garden asking his Father if it is possible to avoid all that lies ahead of Him & accepting that that’s Not going to happen, He did this for us; so I guess my problems don’t amount to much . But what a sorry world we are living in at present! So much suffering of the innocent. A.M.D.G.

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience. May it always stay with you. Jesus is truly with you always. He feels our pain along with us, not necessarily lessening it but in a sense is, because we are not carrying it alone. We have an awesome God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). I would also like to share an experience of mine that came back to mind as I read and reflected on yours. It was a time in which I was so tired of life, all that was going on, things from past continuing to affect now (things I had done or experienced from others), I wanted change and was getting tired of feeling like I was alone. I went to the bedroom and wrapped my self in a blanket and cried my eyes out, got made at God and the world, at myself, life, those who hurt others…. I let it all out. The Divine Mercy image came to my mind. The rays coming from his side…. All the sudden I quite crying and had a total peace come over me. I had no memory of the specifics of what was so upsetting to me. It was like it had all been washed away in Jesus Blood and water from his side. And not just washed away but dissolved. It was forgotten. Never to be found again. All of it scattered everywhere… impossible to put back together ever. A total peace even today when remember the experience. TOTAL FREEDOM.

  5. Thank you Becky for this powerful reminder that Jesus is always with us.
    A few years ago I was sitting in the Church of the Agony in Gethsemane in Jerusalem
    going thru’a painful meditation of Jesus sitting alone in his last agony, I looked up for whatever reason I don’t know and saw the beautiful picture on the Wall behind the Altar where God the Father and the Holy Spirit looking down on Jesus.I intuitively knew God was with Him. Everything will be fine. I was free to go on my own via dolorosa.

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