It’s been a long day.
Bethany is doing very well. She is sleeping soundly; I just woke her briefly for her next round of meds and back to sleep she went. There is a longer update on my facebook wall. Thanks to all who prayed. God definitely orchestrated every inch of this process. We are overwhelmed.
As my girl came out of the anesthesia, she wasn’t herself. She was fuzzy, but becoming more and more alert as the minutes ticked by and as her nurses tended to her. I watched as she went from being completely unaware and unfeeling, to slow alertness, then to gradual tears as she realized what had happened and how much the pain hurt her. The anesthesia had worn off. Reality had set in.
A few years ago, on a Good Friday much like tonight, my anesthesia started to wear off. This was anesthesia that had been pumped into my mind and soul for years on end. I grudgingly attended the Good Friday service, thinking that it would be nothing but an “emotional display of Christianity as a crutch”. The gym was set up exactly as it was set up for tonight’s service (I saw a picture earlier on Facebook) with the cross in the middle and chairs around the cross.
Now while I have no idea what the plan was for tonight, I knew the plan for that anesthetized Good Friday. People were to write their “sins” on paper and “nail them to the cross”. I found the exercise futile. Because I didn’t believe. I didn’t believe that there could possibly be a God who would sacrifice his son for our sins—I had too many questions, years of doubts and questions and events that had hardened my soul and my heart.
But, as I sat there in the back of the room, watching what was going on, my mind was flooded with thoughts. I thought that if I didn’t discover if God was real or not, and discover soon, I could not continue to stay in this world. I thought that I had to know that what we had given 20 years of our life to, was real. I knew that I would not be alive the following Good Friday, if something in my life didn’t change. And I didn’t know if that change had anything to do with knowledge of whether God was real or not. All I know is that I was walking down a road to destruction–quickly.
That night, as those sins were “burned” after the service and thee smoke rose high, that was the exact moment that began a long, painful process of work. Real work. Hard work. Work to investigate who God was. Work to read authors that thought like I did (starting with Philip Yancey, moving on to C.S. Lewis and John Stott and others). This was an incredibly hard time—a time of having my entire world turned upside down by a God I didn’t know that I believed in, and furthermore, didn’t know if I could trust. And I couldn’t even fathom a personal Jesus.
God was merciful to me. Through different avenues, He used authors, sermons, writing documents, a trip to Hawaii, the church, even Jack, and people who used to be friends to safely walk me through this time. Oh, how I wondered if I would live through it. Literally. I didn’t know. The pain of the past clashing with the pain of the present drove me to the brink, more than once. But like I said, God was merciful.
You see, it was like anesthesia. I had been anesthetized for so long–for many years–that when that started to wear off and I started to wake up, I first was completely disoriented. Completely so. And I ran to alcohol to orient myself, ironically so. It had been my go-to for years, it was my go-to in this situation. And then as the effects of the anesthesia wore off, the pain entered. And it hurt. Deeply.
But like I told Bethany today, the pain is necessary to get to the other side. She has to run through the pain to get to her new life of being able to breathe. And God had to perform surgery on my mind and my soul and my life, and it hurt. And I had to run through the pain to get to a new life of belief in my God and my Jesus. And God was full of grace, allowing me to make it there. Allowing me to make it there before my life fell apart at the hands of my ex-husband’s terrible crimes and jail time. Because had I not been saved, had I not become a believer before that dreadful day when they lead him away in hand-cuffs, I would not be standing today. It is only by God’s grace.
Tonight there is grief. My heart is heavy. For many different reasons. Grateful–my goodness, so grateful for how things have turned out for my girl!! My grief floods my soul once again over what has been, what was. It’s Good Friday. It is a day to mourn I suppose, in a way. Or at least to somberly be aware. My soul is aware of much tonight, at it hurts. It aches. The past haunts. Looking at that picture of how the gym was set up for tonight’s service, I know I would not have been able to attend, it would have been too painful. But God knew that, and I’m home nursing my sweet girl and enjoying the rest of my crew.
But the hurt is real tonight. And so I will remind myself once again that this is an occasionally occurring after affect of the anesthesia wearing off. Of being real. Of being honest. Of living this very long life. Lord we long to go home; we long to be in your presence where there is no more pain.
Have mercy upon us as we observe and mourn this Good Friday. But we know that it is Good; it is Good. It is good because of your sacrifice. It is good because you didn’t stay there.
It is good because it demonstrates your love for us.
It is good because it takes away our heinous, unmentionable sins. My ugly, horrific sins.
It is good, because Sunday is coming.