It is the Holy week for many Christians including myself. Now I do not claim to have any worthwhile theological knowledge. In fact if you were to test my ability to recount scripture or important biblical characters, I can guarantee, I would fail miserably. However, since Charlie’s death, I have been stripped of all my security blankets, except for my faith. My faith has ironically grown stronger in the last year as it is all that is left for us to hold on to.
Yet this week, I have truly been struggling with faith for no better reason than Charlie died on Good Friday last year, a day that Christians celebrate. It’s hard to take comfort in the celebration of someone’s agonising pain, suffering and ultimate death put on public display especially when he is considered the savior of the world. As a child, I remember learning about the crucifixion of Jesus and wincing and covering my ears during the story as Easter approached. I didn’t want to hear or know about that part of the Bible. The story was entirely too hard to bear. When I became a mom and Charlie began asking faith based questions, I would casually graze over the major elements of Good Friday, leaving it as the day that Jesus died for our sins. Saying the words then still felt uncomfortable and somewhat lacking in truth. While I wanted to protect Charlie’s innocence, I also think I did not truly comprehend how Good Friday was actually “good,” nor did I want to dig into the Bible and find out.
As Good Friday approached this week, I’ve found myself emotional and truly angry thinking about Charlie’s death and the irony of Christ’s death being on the same day. In order to combat my anguish for the loss of my son, I did two things: First, I Googled (the easy way out for us first worlders) why Good Friday is called Good Friday? And second, I went to scripture. In my in depth research on Google, I found that many linguists (I know, big word meaning people who study language) dispute the meaning of “good” in Good Friday. Some say Good Friday comes from the result of Jesus’s death, the expulsion of our sins and everlasting life. Others say, “Good” actually comes from the word “God” so “God’s Friday” which was cited in an entry in the Catholic Encyclopedia in 1909. Finally, the definition most widely agreed upon by linguists (remember this is in my not so lengthy research on Google) is that “Good” is actually a term used to mean “Holy”. So Good Friday would equate to “Holy Friday.” Although, the term Holy Friday seems a little more appropriate than the celebration of Good Friday, I still did not take solace in crucifixion story.
So I gave myself a pep talk, “Rebecca, look at scripture. The answers are there.” Then I said to God in my lame Rebecca talking to God voice, “ Lord please help me out here. Help me find some “good”ness in Charlie’s death. Why did he die and why especially on Good Friday?” Now I am not one that “hears” God tell them what to do. In fact, I’ve asked a few of those people who have said ‘God told me to do such and such’ or ‘God put something very specific on my heart” if they actually heard God speak to them. Most have reassured me that, no they have had a gut feeling or what they called a ‘God Feeling’ that the path or decision they were making was right. This made me feel better because I have often felt that God just must not talk to me or else I am too dense to listen (clearly in most cases, the latter is true).
When I opened to my Bible to the book of John, I began reading Chapters 13 through Chapter 20 ending with Jesus appearing to his disciples after he was crucified. The discomfort I felt in reading John’s account over and over again about the events of the day we term Good Friday was immense. I was about to throw in the towel or more honestly, throw my Bible across the room and yell at God “Seriously, you got nothing…. I ask you for help… and nothing! This is B.S. “ (Side bar: I said I was a believer…. never did I say I was a pious one) when I came across a verse, that resonated with me in John 16. Jesus is consoling his disciples as he prepares them for his death. He tells the disciples that they will not see him for a little while because he will go to the Father. The disciples are confused, as anyone would be and then Jesus explains,
John 16: 22 “Now is your time for grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one can take away your joy.”
When I stopped on this verse after about the 4th time of reading it, I highlighted it and began to cry. This was my silver lining, my “good”ness in Charlie’s death. This is my time for grieving but when I go to heaven I will be with Jesus and my sweet Charlie. I will rejoice in my homecoming, be reunited with my son and no one can take that joy from me. Charlie is already home, and while I struggle everyday that he is not here with us, I know the joy he feels living with the Father is everlasting and more perfect than I can imagine. This is the “good” in Good Friday that I have never experienced before. Charlie died on Good Friday, not to add insult to injury but to reassure Michael and I that he is in the best care, in that of Our Father. And although that’s not what I wanted and never will truly understand, I can take a little comfort in that.