April 15: Good Friday

Good Enough – Good Friday                  

“Even today, God is here and somehow, that is good enough.”

adapted from “Mourning a Future Self” devotion from “Good Enough” by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie. Adaptations will be made in italics

Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie write: “Perhaps you are in that place where grief is what makes the most sense to you right now. Because there is something that will now never be. There is an imagined future, something beautiful and dear to your heart, and it has dissolved before your eyes.

What is it that you grieve?

Perhaps your grief has a name. She is gone. He will never come back. The funeral is over, but the pain lingers. Perhaps you are grieving an event: an accident, an illness, a messy divorce, yet even more covid cases pushing back into fear, the horrific war in the Ukraine where Good Fridays happen on Saturday and Monday…and all the days in between.  Maybe you are mourning a relationship that has come to an end with no possibility for forgiveness or reconciliation. Or perhaps you grieve for a marriage or relationship you still hope for, and work for, but one that has painted you into a corner.

Or is it someone close to you? Maybe you mourn for the relative with mental illness, a child who continues to struggle, or the loved one who will never be able to drive, work, or have the relationships that would make life feel full. Or maybe you lost an opportunity to do the right thing, say what mattered. Or perhaps you couldn’t say goodbye.

I know that ache. It is a deep sadness that reverberates through our bones. We mourn not in general, but in particular. After all, love is in the details. It is, as Dr. Don Rosenstein says, “the loss of an imagined future.” He is a clinical psychiatrist who works in a cancer center. An unexpected form of grief emerged for him when his son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He had to grieve the loss of who he’d imagined his son to be. He had to give up on the fantasy of a future where he and his son could hit tennis balls back and forth. Of course, his son is lovable and loved. But Don had to mourn his expectations and root around for a new dream of what it means to be the dad of his actual son, not just the son he thought he might have.

Loss requires us to reimagine hope. But before hope comes acknowledgment. Let us count not only our blessings, but our losses. That might sound “negative” to people accustomed to leaning on optimism, but there are good reasons for starting with a deep accounting of loss.

For we are losers – the ones whose faith is defined by loss, the ones who experienced the worst kind of loss on Good Friday – and together we inhabit this moment alongside the disciples.  There is no Sunday to come.  There is no light in this darkness.  In this moment – we lose it all.  Our Saviour, our friend, will die.  Nothing can make that lighter than it should be.  Nothing should remove the sting of his death.  Or any death, when the injustices of the world conspire together in destructive contempt for life.  For while we are ‘victors in Christ…’ we are not immune to loss.  Yet ever since we were made the dominant religion in the 4th Century – we became convinced we must always come out on top.  We’ve made Christianity into relentless positivity.  We wanted others to be like us and we used our power to impose our beliefs upon them, altogether forgetting that Jesus’ power is only through weakness.  May we accept the pain of our own history if only to inhabit this moment alongside the disciples, as if there’s no Sunday to come.  There is only loss.  Being honest about this moment…being honest about our loss allows us to pause and take stock before we forge ahead.

Acknowledging “this will never be” is the precursor to imagining what might happen next. Without it, we may inadvertently find ourselves trapped in what psychologists call “identity foreclosure.” As psychologist Adam Grant describes, we can get tunnel vision. We commit and recommit to a single vision of the future, shutting down any alternate plans and the ability to adjust. You wanted to be a parent, but infertility made it too difficult. You hoped for a long-term partner by this age, but they haven’t come along. You were excited to help raise your grandkids, but then they moved away. We are forever being kept from an imagined future. And without honesty, we cannot first mourn that loss.

When you cannot have the future you imagined, let the tears flow. Let yourself mourn. For loss is not only normal but a part of embracing the ‘enough’ of each and every moment.  So, pour out your grief in all its truth, with all your power, in whatever form comes. With words or songs or talking with friends. Long walks or screaming into the void. Let it out.

Tell God the whole of it. Even though it hurts. God mourns this day alongside you.  So especially tell the honest, angry parts. Anger is our soul’s sentry, put there to protect our boundaries and the vulnerabilities we carry.  And there is much in our world to be angry about. Much in our world to mourn.  Yet God, even in the midst of our loss, even in the pain of this time, even in the injustices which still remain – even today, God is here, and somehow that is good enough. 

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