Sunday, April 16, 2017

Groundhog Easter Day

In the Christian tradition, Easter weekend is typically a time of death to life.
It's both a somber weekend and a joyous celebration.
No matter where I am in life, I always find myself a little more introspective.
To be honest, Easter has rarely been a time of joy for me. It's kind of a Groundhog Day of sorts. I know, every year, Easter is coming, but I can't live it out and step away. The dying happens over and over. It's never done. Something in me dies every day.
I am in part inspired to write this morning, because I just scrolled past yet another image of the man in the White House that engendered multiple negative feelings. I initially felt a gag reflex. Yes. True story. I gagged. You see, the image was somewhat a double entendre, and it was so suggestive, I had to gag. And then I felt an actual tangible ache, deep ache in my heart. To think that people who profess a faith in the man whose death and resurrection is observed on Easter weekend, would actually look up to and defend this man who would sooner hammer the nails himself.
And just after that photo, a photo of a Syrian family in a field. It stops me in my tracks, it's beautiful. Children in vibrant colors and yellow flowers dot the green landscape. But it's a story about people being bombed, even in their safe places. The space negotiated as safe for evacuees on both sides is bombed. And thoughts of all the Christian people I know who only want to bomb Syria from afar, but exclude them from our country. And my mind just can't comprehend.
And it's all the more palpable over Easter weekend, these thoughts and reactions. I sat there and thought about sharing the first photo and my disgust over it. And then I thought….maybe simmer down, it's Easter weekend. And then I thought about the response if I did post it. Maybe no one would even respond. But if they scrolled past, they'd be thinking: That was a long time ago. People change.
It is a weekend celebrating new life after all.

Then I thought about my own embarrassing deeds. Thankfully, (as far as I know), there's no photos. There's no grab em by the….audio. There's just stories. And times I made people feel bad. And private things. Thoughts and actions. And I realized, if I ever became a public figure, I would own it. I would wear my remorse like a badge. Because there is strength in honesty. There is life in death. Prune a rose tree and it grows back stronger and more beautiful the next year.
And then I saw the Syrian family, and I knew I wanted to say something. But what?

For some reason though, things are amplified for me around Easter. I've had some traumatic experiences. I once had someone close to me scream at the top of his lungs with wild eyes that I was a whore. Yes. A whore. On Easter. He was not a romantic partner, but had strong opinions on what makes a whore, and most of you would likely disagree. Reaching back even further in time, I had another man tell me he thought I was a prostitute. It was awkward. So awkward. He'd called me into his bedroom to tell me this whilst everyone was just outside circling up, holding hands to pray on Easter. I'm sure their eyes nervously darted around the room as the raised voice lashed out. And I was being apologized to? It didn't feel like it because it felt like I was still being called a prostitute….and then his wife came in and screamed at both of us, and that was just all the weirdness a kid could take. Side note…I was entirely a virgin at this time. So….that's a head scratcher for sure. But my cheeks got hot and I felt the shame of a thousand harlots. And a piece of me died.
A string of these kinds of stories is why I observe Easter as my own personal Groundhog Day.
Something died in me those days. Because I was not who these men accused me of being. And yet, I was also not perfect. So all the shame and guilt for the bad things I had done mingled with the shame and guilt of the things I was falsely accused of, and I was a heap.
So, you can imagine, that outside of any religious observations, Easter and I, we have a complicated relationship.
Here's the thing, I feel a deep remorse any time I realize I've caused pain to others. That badge I wear, it's not with pride. Something dies in me those days too.

I don't feel like this man in the White House feels any remorse. I think, more than anything, he regrets getting caught. He's glossed over his indiscretions and made fleeting apologies. And it's not my place to judge or speculate what is in his heart. But without comparing him to anyone else, but who his better self could be, it kills me that people professing that Jesus rose from the dead on Easter, would look up to a man, defend a man, that in his public life has sounded the very antithesis of the one who died. Who stands and lives for America First? Him first? No death to any desire, but false promises of giving people what they want and not really what they need and delivering neither.
And my beef isn't with that man. Well…it is politically. But more than that, I struggle this Easter to make heads or tails of a people who make every justification for a demagogue. And while they justify the demagogue, they justify things I just cannot find in the bible.

It's funny. It seems like the evangelical Christians accuse the progressive Christians of only wanting to see Jesus and focus on love. (As if that's a bad thing?) But what I see more often than not, is the evangelicals longing for a time before the cross. A time when tribes were good or bad, in or out. And though there was no America at the time of the OT, for some reason, American Evangelicals think their tribe is in. Special blessed. When everything about Jesus tells me he wants one tribe. I think the Old Testament tribalism in post Christ times led to The Crusades. We continue these misguided Crusades even today. Both through disingenuous wars for oil or in our daily lives as people kill with their tongues, all in the name of a god who is made in man's own image.

It's nigh impossible for me to celebrate a living Jesus, when so many of his followers seem to be killing everything Jesus stood for.
And so, I grapple with the groundhog every year. Will there be a spring with new life? Or are we going to continue in this winter way? The winter of my discontent, as I connect those same traumatized feelings as a younger person, to the trauma I feel today. Right now, instead of a death and resurrection, I am struggling to see past just the death of compassion and grace and generosity and dignity. Perhaps the resurrection is in me, as I learn to die to myself, my me first attitude, and offer to bring more compassion and grace and generosity and dignity to those around me. And thankfully, I know I am not alone in doing so.

Thanks to Jen Hatmaker for sharing her own raw stories. Perhaps inspired by her, I share this.

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