This week marks the most important week of the entire Christian calendar. It’s Holy Week; the time we meditate upon Christ’s Passion — the last week he spent in Jerusalem during the Passover preparing to be the true and perfect Passover Lamb. This is also the final week of the Lent season. For weeks now we have celebrated the angst, tension, and pain of Lent. This has been a time where we have focused on the fact that we have not yet become who we will be, and we still live in much of that old way of life. This has been a time where we look our idols in the eyes, hear their whispers and discern what they have been promising us and what we have believed they can give. Love. Security. Affirmation. Rest. We seek all these things under the sun, but all these things find their Source beyond.
I talked a client out of suicide yesterday. Admittedly, this is a not-so-rare occurrence for her, but the fact that she actually came to any of us before doing something was a bit of a miracle. She tries everything she can to stay in hospitals. As soon as she’s released, her PTSD flashbacks return and she wants to cut herself. And that’s just what happened. She apparently had been carrying around a large knife in her bag in case her “bad thoughts” came, and sure enough they did. And she wanted to cut herself. She wanted to be back in the hospital. She just wanted to be back where she was “safe”. She told me that these flashbacks have been haunting her for years. She said she has been running and working so hard to get better, but nothing changes. She said she’s tired. She just wanted rest.
She began telling me about her kids who she lost custody of a while back and will probably never see again. She feels she lost everything. I told her I could not promise her that everything around her would end up great. I told her she might not ever see her kids again. The thoughts may never go away. The depression may never subside. But you can have peace and rest. You may stumble the rest of your life, but you can move forward. There is healing you can experience — that you have already experienced. And we love you. And we are here. And we will fight for you. And we won’t let go.
I told her that her past suicide attempts haven’t ever made the flashbacks let up. They’ve promised her something they cannot deliver, and seeing no other way out, she’s taken it over and over again just to end up in the same place. I told her that those thoughts, those memories, and that knife were whispering to her lies about herself. I asked her who cared more about her, the knife or me? Who loved her more? Who had her best interests at heart? Who would tell her the truth about reality when she was too fractured to make sense of anything? Me. I assured her: You are strong. You have come so far. You are capable. You are loved. You are secure. You are respected. You are cared for.
And she finally gave me the knife. We hugged. She thanked me. I assured her this was only one step in a very long walk, and I’d walk it with her. I asked her if she was religious and she said she is a Christian. Then I got to tell her what I had been dying to tell her that entire time: Jesus hates those wicked thoughts and what they do to you more than you hate them. And he has so much wrath against everything that haunts you and he has poured that wrath out on those things in Jesus on the cross so you don’t have to enslaved to them anymore. But you will be. But I am. And we’ll spend the rest of our lives loosening ourselves from those things. And we’ll do it as a community.
I “assured” her– This is healing: it will get slowly better and better and better; and then it will get worse. Then it will get better and better and better; and then it will get worse. Then it will get as bad as it ever has been; and then it will get better.
And I realized today that this is all our stories. We have those thoughts and those things that weigh so heavily upon us. Whispering to us. Promising things to us. Doubts, sins, addictions, uncertainties, and ambiguities mark more of our lives than clarity and holiness, do they not? We savor those moments of bliss, freedom, and rest because they are a foretaste of a kingdom that is already “here” but is becoming ever increasingly “here” as we love, live, serve, create, and worship. And this is what Holy Week is all about. We join with all the saints of history in the growing crescendo of time in our struggle with angst and sin. The tension and mourning of this season is building to its highest point this week — to its most feverish pitch as we lose all sight of self-sufficiency until we fall on our faces, exhausted, late on a Friday night; confused, weary, and given up.
And then wait for Sunday to come.
And it will. Let us not waste the next few precious days. Confess your sin. Pray your sin. Sing your sin. Meditate upon your sin. Taste your sin. And then exchange your sin for Christ. And then join with all the Saints this Easter as you confess your Christ. Pray your Christ. Sing your Christ. Meditate upon your Christ. And taste your Christ.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.