My composure had broken.
After twelve hours of standing in a terminal, sleeping on a cot, and wanting to cry, I decided to sit on the floor.
I’d been avoiding it. Somehow, refusing to sit on the floor had become one last way to hold onto my role as a missionary. But now, with exhaustion setting in, and feeling helpless as the hours grew longer and longer, I curled up on the ground like so many others. I chose the spot on the wall right across from the arriving and departing board.
(I was stuck, trying to head home after 18 months of serving in the California Fresno Mission. However, due to a terrible storm, I was trapped in the Chicago O’Hare Airport, which I begrudgingly labeled in my journal as “the very pit of hell itself.”)
I pulled out my scriptures and my study journal. So many thoughts were running through my mind. My whole mission and the things I’d done, the people I’d met, the people I’d love, were haphazardly washing through me as my ability to think clearly was diminishing.
I fumbled through the Topical Guide, reading through references of Jesus Christ and came across a scripture in the book of Mark. Christ, while enduring his suffering in Gethsemane, comes to his apostles to find them asleep. The first time he asks His chief apostle, Simon Peter, “Simon, sleepest thou? Couldest not thou watch one hour?”
This pattern repeats, and the third time, in Mark 14:41, Christ says to his sleeping friends:
Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough, the hour is come; behold, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
As I read that scripture, the Spirit suddenly struck me. It was a precious moment as I felt a confirmation for all I’d done as a missionary. In the midst of all my emotion, I hadn’t realized how much I’d been questioning that fact. I felt like when He said, “Sleep on now, and take your rest: it is enough,” that He was talking to me.
My thoughts turned to the apostles and what went through their minds when the day came when they realized that they’d fallen asleep as Christ suffered.
I thought of my first transfer where I jokingly told my trainer as I struggled with staying away during studies: “If the apostles fell asleep, so can I!”
I thought of the times I’d passed someone without talking to them. I thought of the times I wished I was sick so I could just stay in bed. I remember crying every day that last transfer just begging Heavenly Father that it could all be over soon. These were all times that I “fell asleep” on my mission. I imagined feeling something similar to those apostles in that moment, wanting so badly to serve the Lord but being subject to human frailties that always seem to leave you lacking.
How grateful that verse then made me for the Atonement of Jesus of Christ. It struck me that it was only when the suffering in the Garden was complete that Christ told his apostles to sleep on. I imagined Him walking to his sleeping friends at that moment with such a perfect understanding of why they fell asleep in the first place, and how hard they tried to stay awake. The process of the Atonement had given Him that complete depth into our failings and struggles.
I’ve found that remembering that moment, one of my last as a full-time representative of Jesus Christ, has brought peace to my soul.
Christ is aware of our best efforts. He is aware of how hard we try, and our very best efforts. That is what He asks of us. To get up and try. Even when we fail. Even when we fall asleep. We wake up and do a little better and work a little harder.
And through it all, I have found it is Christ who can offer true rest from all that comes.