Sweet Reminders for when You're Crying in Your Tub
The day after Easter 2017 I laid flat on the floor of my bathtub sobbing. It’s my favorite place to ugly cry because my tears go straight down the drain with the dirty shower water. I’m not exactly sure why I was so hysterical but I had just been paralyzed on my couch for hours after scrolling through my Facebook feed and being reminded of how broken this world is: some crazy man is on the loose and threatening to kill people until he’s caught, something weird is happening with America and being black is just awkward in general these days.
On January 21, 2017 I was reminded of the fragility of life in the most awful way. One of my longest and dearest friends was killed in a car accident in Key West. I got off the phone with her sister after she called me that night and threw up at the gas station where I’d stopped my car. Then I called my friend's phone a million times to hear it go straight to voicemail. Death was very real. Her death was very real. I immediately began seeing the world and life differently.
Four years ago on Good Friday I couldn’t stand to think of Jesus dying for me. I wrote my frustration down in my journal and look back to read it on occasion:
"April 20, 2013. I got mad at Jesus on Good Friday. We went through the stations of the cross and he showed me what he did for me. That wasn’t necessary. Really, it wasn’t."
At the time I was very aware of my brokenness and so were some of the people around me. I’d shared with them stories that left me exposed; things that I’d hoped would free me from the burden of hiding parts of myself that I was ashamed of. Those things that I’d shared had since been the root of other sins I was struggling with. So, instead of feeling fully known and free from them, I felt vulnerable and judged. To me, my brokenness and sin didn’t deserve Christ’s sacrifice. Other people should totally be forgiven. Not me.
I go to Bible Study Fellowship on Tuesday's. In the weeks before Easter we read about Jesus’ arrest, trial and death. I didn’t know it as I sat reading the notes and listening to our lecture, but the Monday that I’d lay bawling in my bathtub, there were three truths braided perfectly together that would comfort me as I felt the burden of the realities above.
Christ’s death was very real (John 19:24-30)
I’ve always thought of Jesus as God and that’s mostly it. Like ... yeah he’s fully man but he's also fully God. I used to cheapen his death on the cross because I always thought of Jesus as way stronger with a higher pain tolerance than our measly mortal selves. I also overlooked the fact that those around him kind of didn’t fully understand what was about to happen to him. Peter literally cut a dudes ear off for coming to arrest Jesus and he was basically like, “Put the sword down. This whole thing still has to happen.” Peter could've been killed for cutting off Malchus' ear. When my friend was killed earlier this year she was 27 years old. For the first time ever I really understood the pain the disciples and those that were close to 33-year-old Jesus had to have felt when he died. It was real pain he endured and real pain they felt with his death.
There is nothing outside of his control (John 18:4-6; John 19:10 & 11)
Y’all remember in John when Jesus was about to get arrested and he spoke and everyone that came to arrest him fell down?
“Then Jesus, knowing what would happen to him, came forward and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ they answered him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am he.’ Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, ‘I am he,’ they drew back and fell to the ground.”
I’m aware that Christ came to die for the sins of the world. I know that God sovereignly orchestrated his Son’s death on the cross. But there are details about Christ’s death that still astound me and this is one. I know that those who came to arrest Jesus (for some reason) stood right back up after this and arrested him anyway. But, them falling to the ground after he simply speaks to them is mind boggling. In the worst death in the history of mankind God very plainly showed that he was in control of the entire thing. I think this is also what tempts me to cheapen Christ’s death. But those two truths aren’t mutually exclusive. Those two truths actually make the reality of Christ’s sacrifice an even sweeter one.
My brokenness and the brokenness of this world is actually exactly what he died for (Luke 22:54-62)
I cringe when I think about Peter denying Christ, the rooster crowing and then Jesus and Peter making eye contact as Jesus was taken to his second trial. Like, “Dang Peter, Jesus sees you right after you commit the sin he told you that you’d commit.” I used to think of their eye contact as scary as heck for Peter. But that’s because when I think of the weight of my sin and how much God hates it, I think of him as rolling his eyes at me every time I fall. Actually, the look that Jesus gave Peter wasn’t a look of condemnation but instead one of a deep love for him. When Jesus went to die that day he saw me in my brokenness and knew that he would have to intercede on my behalf. He saw my sins before he went to the cross. That’s the reason he went! Because he knew the brokenness of this world would burden me and cause me to lay on the floor of my bathtub and the hope I would look toward was the only one that can give a pardon for that brokenness.
These are things I knew but in being reminded of them, it was almost as if I were hearing them for the first time. God is perfectly orchestrating all things for his glory. In Christ’s death there is so much hope. Without it, there is none.
Also, just another reminder ... Jesus is alive.