On Good Friday, I started writing a very dark blog post. How fitting that on the day we Christians mark crucifixion, I felt that I’d hit rock bottom and wanted to cry to the world “Eli Eli, lama sabacthani” – “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Those nine words resonated so strongly with me as Holy Week unfolded. Nothing has been going right. Instability has become my middle name. Uncertainty lingers around each corner. Among an expiring lease, the very nature of my limited work by contract, “temporary” divorce support orders that pay bills but don’t give a sense for long-term financial planning, a tax bill bigger than any income I’ve ever made for reasons that I can’t even begin to understand, an unfulfilling job search after 13 years “at home,” and hoards of other matters, well, suffice it to say, I feel like I did while driving a Vermont backroad during “mud season” last week: everything is slipping, and so little is in my control – and one wrong turn, and I’m sunk. I started contemplating what utter defeat looks like and why, oh why, I can’t find a lifeline. So about this “forsaken” business that Christ yelled from the cross? Well, yeah, I totally get it, maybe for the first time ever at such a visceral level. What good, I wondered, is living a positive life when you can end up in a negative space anyway, mired in mud with no clear way back onto steady ground?
An answer came to me today in the message that is Easter. Even for those who do not share my faith, the story of death and rebirth – of renewal and of the hope borne from that – transcends faith. There’s something magical about the idea that one day, one can be out of options and completely screwed, as forsaken as can be – and then, mere days later, realize that there is, actually, more to the story. Perhaps what matters is not our suffering, but, rather, what we do with it. It’s choosing to stay on that hard, muddy path to reach our destination. It’s in the confidence that salvation is not a myth but is tangible. It's knowing that the path to get there involves those things that a good partnership involves: love and trust and acceptance, most especially of imperfections. In my case, I have always viewed those things as so very important when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Until today, I had thought little about applying them to me.
It's true that I’m not at all where I want to be -- yet. I could have made a host of different choices than might have yielded different results. I allowed my self-esteem to erode a bit too much when I didn’t get an interview for the 300th job to which I applied (and, unfortunately, that is no exaggeration). I don’t trust my plan B (or C, or D, or the many I always have after that), because I haven’t trusted myself much at all. At some point, I stopped believing that I was able to make good choices – and, on some level, I actually stopped making them. I’ve been upset with myself on so many levels that, of course, I’ve felt forsaken -- because I forsook myself.
I’m still nowhere near out of the mud, and I still have no answer for how to navigate the road ahead. It’s going to be messy, and it’s going to be hard, and the choices and compromises that I have to make are going to be less than ideal. That said, I feel better equipped to do it today when I admit that I don’t know what I’m doing – that I’m flawed, and that I’m going to make more mistakes, though I’m as committed to learning from them as ever. Trusting my ability to do my very best by my living, working, mothering, and moving-on circumstances has to be good enough for now. That, perhaps, is the very essence of faith. I have it in something bigger than me, but it's misplaced if I don't have it in me, too.
After this holiday season, my “nine words” are no longer “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” They are, instead, “Move forward with love, trust, acceptance, courage, and hope.” It's a Resurrection indeed, not only of the God in whom I believe, but also of a strength of spirit that I'd lost for a bit. There is so much to celebrate in that. Happy Easter, everyone.