Behind Jesus’ back all along was the largest teddy bear I could ask for: a profound understanding of my self-worth found in Him.
“Ok, God,” I whispered in the dim Adoration chapel as I ran out of prayer topics. As much as I tried to stay awake, my body began to slump down the pew. I was mid-staring match with the monstrance, hoping for some divine intervention to get me through my holy hour. “Give me something to pray for.”
In the silence emerged a long-forgotten word I hadn’t heard since confirmation class: fortitude.
The big F-word seemed to echo throughout the empty pews. Ok … Thanks God … “Hey Siri,” I whispered into my phone as I straightened up, “What does fortitude mean?”
I found myself asking the same question this summer when tasked with giving a talk on fortitude to Catholic teenage campers. While most were fresh out of confirmation class and familiar with the word, it took some examples to bring the fruit back to life — namely that of a tiny teddy bear.
I likened this experience in Adoration, this need for fortitude, to an image of a child with a small teddy bear in their arms. Jesus asks the child for it, but stuffed animals aren’t inherently bad, so why should the kid give it up? What the child can’t see is that Jesus has an even bigger teddy bear behind His back. As a good Father, Jesus wouldn’t take something away from us without having something better planned. This is fortitude — trusting in God even when we can’t see His plan.
As I wrote my talk, I tried to remember why I needed fortitude so badly that day in Adoration. Suddenly it hit me: That was around the time I was debating leaving a year-long abusive relationship.
That relationship was my small teddy bear. I was white-knuckling it; I thought that it was better to be in a bad relationship than no relationship at all. I spent a whole year praying for discernment and the courage to leave, but behind Jesus’ back all along was the largest teddy bear I could ask for: a profound understanding of my self-worth found in Him.
As much as we love our little teddy bears, Satan loves them more; he tries to convince us that there is nothing behind Jesus’ back, and we will let go of what little we have and be left alone with nothing. The best revenge we can get — a huge punch in Satan’s face — is to simply trust in God. Whether in regard to our greatest comforts or a staring match with a monstrance, it’s important to surrender, have fortitude, and let God win.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.