Holy Week 2020: Wednesday

Looming uncertainty. It seems eerily appropriate that we find ourselves in that same space. As I sit on my back porch writing (trying to divert my eyes from the endless news loop of the television), I find my spirit troubled. This familiar phrase is used, especially in John’s gospel to reveal the heart of Jesus on many occasions. We see it in his response to other’s grief (ch 11). We see it as he predicts his death (ch 12), and this exact phrase is used to describe the heart of Jesus as he explained to the disciples that one of them was going to betray him (ch 13). This last text is today’s lectionary reading. As I read and reread these words, I’m curiously thankful.

I’m thankful for the humanity of Jesus. There are many ways that I struggle to relate to the divinity of Christ, but I get the humanity. I get the struggle. I get the fret. I get the troubled spirit, because that is exactly where I find myself today. When the world is not as we planned it. When the changes are frightening. When you know in your troubled spirit that this is not the desired outcome. Jesus understood that feeling. I think I can safely say that we all need this message of understanding today. For many of us over thinkers, we feel terminally unique on a good day. In this global chaos, I would classify my soul as terminally troubled.

I can safely classify this season of my own faith exploration as one that is filled with questions. One of the most beautiful parts of faith for me is the journey. I have learned that life is anything but stagnant. That goes for the growth that takes place when we experience uncertainty and change in our spiritual life. There were many times in decades past that these seasons came with judgement. When I would experience a season of a “troubled spirit,” I struggled to allow my unsettled soul to just be. I fought it. I shamed myself for doubt and questions. Today, I sit in this place with a strange since of welcome.

What if having a troubled spirit is but an invitation for change? Jesus gave us a model for this life. Not once, when presented with a season of soul stirring, did Jesus quit. He never walked away from the discomfort. He did not change the situation so that he felt more at ease. I don’t recall a time when he chose to drink it away or rage at people that did it wrong. And at the same time, he didn’t always have the answers. Even when he knew the path forward, he was honest about the pain that the truth would bring. One of my favorites of these moments takes place tomorrow night. Let’s just say that I get the garden. I get it in the deep places of my soul.

When I think about authenticity, this is my model. That’s what Wednesday is about for me this year. I will not ignore the uncertainty. I will not deny the unrest. I will allow my spirit to understand and accept discomfort and pain and grief. I will listen with a desire to learn from the inner voice that is speaking to me in this season. Rather than resisting or fighting the feelings that are sometimes easy to push away, I will invite the wisdom of revelation to teach me in the unease. For the record, I think this is like praying for patience. By being willing to lean in, we have to be willing to experience the hard. But here is the thing. We are ALREADY in the hard. What if by opening ourselves to learn from it, we are only admitting that we can grow and thrive because of these moments, not in spite of them?

May we shift our posture as we enter the weight of the week.

May this be more than a hump day of sorts, but rather a choice to change positions.

May we prepare for the hard, because it is coming.

Holy Week 2020: Tuesday

Hard conversations. I feel like this was the central theme of the week. It matters not which account you chose to read, every single one of them tells of Jesus trying with all that he had to communicate and explain what is about to happen without giving up. But there were moments that he had to want to scream, “You idiots! What don’t you get?” When I pulled up the text for today, I read a familiar story of one of those conversations. The account is found in John chapter 12. It begins in verse 18 and is a lengthy passage. And while I tried to find the truth suggested, or at least an interesting new insight, I struggled with familiarity. Until I arrived at the last line: After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. (verse 36). That was the truth I needed this morning.

Jesus understood. Jesus was human. Jesus was like the worn out mom in the midst of quarantine. He, too, need to get away from the people and hide. Because being a coordinator of chaos is a heavy job. Because all the questions. Because we all have moments when we reach the end of our ability to be calm and kind and rational. We all have the moments where we just need to depart and hide.

Two nights ago, I knew in my gut that it was one of those nights. I went away for a bit (aka locked the bathroom door and prayed that no one would start bleeding or feeling). I took a break in my homebound sanctuary. But even that was not enough. After a long bath, I found myself sitting on my closet floor. The closet is inside the bathroom, inside my bedroom. I had 2 sets of door between me and the next human. I departed and hid from them. I texted a friend. I said some fu* and sh* words. I had a moment where I just needed to let the weight of the day jump the heck off my back. These moments are hard for people like me. I want to be the tough and capable type of human. I want the world to think that I have the answers and the serenity to face what may come. But the truth is, I don’t.

There is an added challenge for those of us that are holding on to sobriety in these days. It has been a while since my last drink, but please don’t think that I am not immune to the deepest desire to have some wine to wash away the day. I know that fast acting anxiety meds would work wonders for the wiggles and the need to run that I feel. These days are long. These feelings are big. The solitude is painful. And at the same time, the excessive words are maddening. One of the biggest signs of struggle in my sobriety experience has been drinking dreams. Multiple times in the last weeks I have woken up in a cold sweat because in my dream I was back at it. And for a moment it feels good. And then you wake up. You feel the misery. It is a painful way to “rest.” Actually, there is not much rest to be had in these moments. I was taught in early sobriety that sleeplessness does not kill you, but a drink can. So how do we keep moving?

I get my ass out of the bed when I wake up in that panic and I go for a long walk. I depart and hide from them. If I have learned one thing on this journey, it is that I need to work through the feels. Which I ABSOLUTELY hate. But they will kill me. They will suffocate me in the name of shame and resentment and fear. They will paralyze me from breathing. I have to get away from the voices that are filling my mind (my people, the TV) and I have to listen to my own Spirit. Some mornings, that means that I am walking around the neighborhood crying. Others, I am listening to a podcast and filling my inspiration tank with Brene’ and Glennon and Mike. And still other days, I am having an anger fit with my favorite musicians.

I feel like this week is a unique and holy moment to recognize the many ways that we are wired and called to not just read the stories but experience the journey. I am already planning some unique connection points for the days ahead. I can assure you that the other 3 humans in my house will want nothing to do with my pilgrimage, and honestly that is more than perfect. This is for me. I have spent most of my adult life preparing Holy Week for others. I don’t think I knew just how much I needed to travel this road without a to-do list.

Here’s a challenge for you. What does remembering the meal, the garden, the trial, death, Saturday and the first light of resurrection look like for you this year? Let me let you in on a secret that I’m finally embracing: there is no wrong way to do this. But, you miss a holy opportunity if you don’t.

May we depart from the ideas of should, and hide in the unique opportunities we have been given to walk this road with Jesus this week.