If you know anything about me, you know I love the Garden.

Not the one in my backyard, that resembles a weed patch…my passion rests within the Garden that God created and named as Eden. Throughout my years of teaching and writing I am always returning to the Garden. But recently I have been returning to it in a new way—through the Crucifixion.

It’s been this journey of writing and blogging about parenting and teenagers that has drawn me back this time to THE place that holds our deepest identity. The Garden is where the Creator crafted us to bear an image that we are told directly reflects and is rooted in God.

Sure, the Garden is part of our creation and that’s wonderful, but what about our pain? The places that we experience darkness, fear or stress in relation to parenting our teenagers? Does the garden hold any significance for that?

The night before Jesus died, he gathered with friends, ate a great meal, washed people’s feet, sipped his last wine and then did something that seems significant–he went to the garden.

Can’t you just imagine it? Jesus and his friends entering this place that holds life, yet is covered by the deep encompassing darkness of night. He did not go alone to this place, but instead he invited a few to come with him and asks them to “keep watch”.

Do you have those kind of friends? The ones who will enter dark places with you?

Jesus returns to this place where Life began and cries out to the point of sweating blood. Science confirms that this physical reaction can occur when the body feels deep stress. And somehow, this comforts me. Why? Because the very real physical reaction Jesus’ body is having makes him seem close, more real, and more relevant in relating to the messiness of pain.

Jesus was no stranger to pain. And neither are we. Some of the emails I’ve received this month relating to teens reveal:

  • a father wrestling for hope, while a son’s sexual actions are threatening the family financially…
  • a mother who has not heard from her daughter in weeks…
  • a pregnant teenager scared to come home…
  • parents torn apart by a son’s one night stand that will leave permanent physical scars…

The Garden is a place that holds life, but also it’s a place where we pour forth our greatest pains, fears, stresses  and ask God to meet us there, beg God to take this away. I would love to “let this cup pass” and drink from another. But, Jesus models something beautiful that I believe is at the core of what the Garden holds for us when we dare to return, to God, especially to the darkness:

The Garden holds DELIGHT.

Yes, Eden in Hebrew means delight. I don’t mean the kind where you feel giddy and want to frolic in the tulips. No, no, not that kind. Instead the kind of delight that’s deep within the core of who God is. The God who will not leave you and will not forsake you — no matter how deep the darkness is that you walk through.

So to you, my fellow parents, who might be facing some of what may seem like the darkness of night in parenting, you are not alone…

I invite you to return to the Garden, gather the sacred friends that will go with you (even if they do fall asleep for awhile), because you are not alone…

Jesus showed us the way to the cross, but it involved returning first to the Garden, the place where our deepest identity began and our image was made–by the One who will walk with us…