Good Friday. I did not write yesterday. It was the first day of “spring break” and so I took a break as well.
Today is a solemn day in the church calendar. It is the day when we, as Christians, come face to face with the consequences of our sin. It is a painful day to look at – full in the face – and acknowledge that because of our rebellion, Jesus had to die. It is a horrific day. It is a gruesome day.
I’ve been listening to Holy Week scripture readings every day this week. One of the podcasts I listen to has been using each day’s broadcast to read the happenings from each gospel for each day of this week. I’ve been fascinated to hear the story from the four gospels and how each of the authors remembered the events. From a purely historic perspective it is a reminder that we all see, remember and value different elements from a common event. I think that is true of all shared experiences – we each take something different from the moments we witness. It was definitely true in the retelling of the life of Christ. What Matthew found worthy or important to include was very different from what John chose to include. These differences carry through into the death of Jesus.
I’ve been awake for a couple hours and have been putting off listening to the Good Friday readings. I know what they say. I know what is coming. I know it will hurt to listen. I also know that it isn’t the end of the story. However, I have to walk through today to get to the resurrection.
Good Friday has a personal relevance to me as well, aside from the salvation offered in the sacrifice. Good Friday is the day I faced one of the biggest and most heart-wrenching decisions of my life. Good Friday is the day when I came face to face with my personal and professional failings and had to let a big piece of my ambition die. I don’t think I’ve shared this story publicly before – in fact I’m sure I haven’t. Writing it down is hard. Acknowledging the utter failure is humiliating, but walking through it really did bring about a resurrection in my soul.
Five years ago I was working in a very demanding job. I was running at 100 miles an hour every day/all day and not really making any headway. I was failing on an epic level. I would take 3 steps forward and fall behind 5. I was neglecting my family to try to keep up. I was drinking too much to dull the feelings of inadequacy. To say it bluntly – I was a hot mess.
Things came to a head on Good Friday. I was called in and told that I wasn’t meeting expectations and something had to change. I felt exposed and embarrassed and useless and devastated. I went home completely defeated and just cried in my bedroom for hours. The ironic thing is that I didn’t even like the job. I had worked really hard to get it because I thought that was the next right thing, but it was killing me on the inside. That is a really hard reality to come up against.
When the tears subsided, Terry and I sat in our room and he asked me a question that changed my life. He asked me what I wanted. Not in the sense of what I wanted for dinner or what I wanted to do for Easter, but what I wanted from and for my life. That question stopped me in my tracks. I don’t think I had asked myself that question in a real sense ever, and I know no one else had ever asked me that. And so I paused and thought about it. What did I WANT? And the answer was as clear as day – I wanted to be a stay at home mom. I wanted to write. I wanted to pour my energy and skills into my marriage and my home and my daughter. I didn’t want to miss out on Arden’s life because I was always at work. I wanted to quit this job that was killing me and focus on my home.
As soon as I said those words out loud, all the reasons why this was a completely irrational idea came. We couldn’t afford what I wanted. I had worked since I was 15. I have never not worked. I find value in myself through work. Did I mention we couldn’t afford it? Terry and I talked through all these obstacles and prayed. I stayed up all night praying. When morning came, so did peace. We made the decision I would quit my job and become a stay at home mom.
It was scary and daunting and really hard. The years since haven’t been easy. We’ve sacrificed a lot of things to make it work. I’ve had days when I missed putting on work clothes and picking up my briefcase and going to work. There have been days when I have wondered if I’m wasting my life. I’ve had days when I’ve regretted the decision. But I’ve also had days when I know down to my bones that I saved my sanity by making the choice. I’ve had days when I was able to be an advocate for my child because I was present and involved at a level I could have never been had I stayed in that job. I have days when I am able to write for hours and find deep satisfaction and worth in the words that fill the page. And most of all, I have these days. These days of mandated stay at home. Because of what happened 5 years ago, I have been uniquely equipped for these days. Thankfully, the choices and adjustments we had to make when we lost my income have made this time easier. I have an at-home rhythm established. I’m able to more easily navigate food and menu planning on a budget because I’ve been doing it for a long time. We don’t fear the loss of my job, because there is no job to lose. There are a lot of things that were planted 5 years ago that are coming to fruition today.
I tell this story to say this – something died on Good Friday 5 years ago. But something rose as well. It has taken a long time for me to look at that time and see the beauty that came from those ashes. I have worked hard to forgive myself for the failure. I haven’t always been great at it. I haven’t been a perfect stay-at-home mom. I have been a far from perfect wife. But I will always be so grateful for the journey, because it allowed me to see in a small, personal way that life can come from death.
And so, I will listen to the story of the Crucifixion today. I will sit in the sadness and hopelessness of this day. I will feel the guilt and shame that this day brings. And I will rejoice – because this is not the end.
Sunday is coming.
News of the Day:
Over 1.6 million people worldwide have tested positive for the coronavirus and more than 97,000 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The U.S. remains the epicenter of the pandemic, with over 466,000 cases and more than 16,000 deaths.
Multiple cities are reporting that the virus is disproportionally killing black Americans.
New York State now has more reported coronavirus cases than any country except the U.S. as a whole.
There were 6.6 million U.S. jobless claims or the week ending April 4 — almost 1 million more than economists were expecting.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is out of intensive care as he continues to recover from COVID-19.
Plan for the Day
Good Friday readings. “Attend” a Good Friday service. Start preparing for Easter. Enjoy the sunshine
See you tomorrow!