Guilt Trips, Paying Rent, and Downton Abbey: Some Thoughts on “Good” Friday

This morning, I almost forgot it was Good Friday.

I woke up at 6 AM on my day off and fretted and worried for about an hour about paying my rent bill and having enough money for gas to go home afterwards. I went over every transaction I had made in the past month and kicked myself for every seemingly worthless payment I had made.

“Did I really need to make that extra visit to my counselor this month?” (I did.)

“Did I really need those two Cookout milkshakes?” (At the time, I really believed I did.)

“Did I really need to spend that much money on an activity for Sister2Sister?” (Unfortunately, I did not.)

And these were the deep, profound thoughts of Lindsay Davis on the morning that we as a Church remember the day our Lord died.

Funny how on a day like today, I was most excited for the fact that I had the day off from work and could finally watch the Season 3 finale of Downton Abbey (which actually got spoiled for me before I could watch it).

And then I remembered this comic that I saw on my Facebook wall last night:


And it got me thinking: If I really thought about it, would good be the appropriate word to sum up my feelings about all of this?

Because to be entirely honest, the type of words I come up with to describe my feelings about Jesus dying for me are more like: guilt, uselessness, helplessness, dependency.

As a kid, my elders didn’t have to ground me or take away certain privileges and treats away from me to prove that I was acting improperly; all they had to do was call me out on it. Guilt is essentially my weakness. I can be made to feel guilty for almost anything, even things I have no hand in. If I feel at all associated with someone’s pain or discomfort, I immediately assume the blame for it.

So when I grow up hearing that Jesus had to die for me or else I’d be good for nothing else but hell and evil, I automatically assume the role of guilty party, and there’s a lot of self-abuse in that.

And then I make myself feel useless. If it weren’t for me, this guy would have been just fine. He could have lived and all would be well. This seems like a lot of fuss to go through over little old me, over little old humanity.  It makes us seem so dependant, and I don’t believe I’m the only human in this world who struggles with being dependant on others.

And maybe the worst part is, there was nothing I could do about it. I just kept hearing the story of this man dying for me because without his death I’m nothing, and I just listen to it, feel moved enough to tears or a slight conversion, and then I go home and count down the days until I can find my chocolate bunny in my Easter basket.

So there you are: Jesus is dying for my sins so I can be free from myself, and I’m just eating chocolate, worrying about bills, and watching Downton Abbey.

I don’t know about you, but the first feeling that comes to mind in all of this isn’t good.

And maybe it’s not supposed to be that way.

I honestly don’t know why this day is called Good Friday, and I won’t resort to a Wikipedia definition at this moment. But I do know that today is tense, painful, and at least for people like me, one big trip of guilt and helplessness.

Because for some reason, whether it was for our sins or because we all need to know God’s Love cannot be killed (oops, got ahead of myself there…) or because of some other sort of deep mystery that I’ll never be able to understand, we need this day. I think…

I’ve been through a lot of doubts and questions recently in my faith journey, and the journey through Lent and Easter has its fair share of them. Sometimes asking and wrestling with the questions ends up being free and rewarding, but on days like today and on weeks like this week, all I feel is irritation and tension. I just want it to be Sunday already and forget this day even happened, because I think on days like today, and especially Saturday, there are a whole lot of unanswered questions, nagging doubts, and deep fears.

And this is me talking as a person who knows what Sunday looks like. His poor disciples didn’t have that luxury.

So I’ll continue to try journeying through this day, as the Church around the world does, as I do with you my brothers and sisters in this area and around the world, through the tension, pain, guilt, uselessness, hopelessness, and doubt that come with this day.

Because I strongly believe that I am not alone in struggling with the word Good today.

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