Life (Good Friday meditation)

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Three years ago Good Friday I seriously contemplated taking my own life. I’ve written about it before. Here is my post from last year.

My observation from this year is that I am struggling with negative thoughts. Good Friday truly is good. This is the gift of life that God gives to each one of us in the death of His Son. But for me, Good Friday is a reminder of arguably the worst days of my life. I don’t like the association that I have between Good Friday and those dark days and nights. How do I replace these negative memories with positive ones? I feel sometimes like negative memories are a mental cancer that eats away at me, that draws me back into the darkness. I don’t want them. No, I hate them. But I don’t know how to get them out of my head.

I feel like I need a mental reboot somehow. I want to erase these memories, overlay them with something brighter, think of God’s mercy and not my own weakness and failings. It will come. I believe it.

Despite all of my own struggles, I have a wonderful wife and family, a great congregation, and very very good friends. They keep me alive, and keep me going.

God’s peace be with you all this day.

-DMR

14 thoughts on “Life (Good Friday meditation)”

  1. About getting rid of the painful memories:
    One thing I've found is just enduring them until there are new, intervening memories. Eventually, there are other things to remember. It's only been three years, DMR; that's not long enough to forget the sharpness of that pain. You won't ever forget it, but over time it will sting a little less.

    Another thing I've found is private confession. (Yes, I know you know this already, and I know you've found the blessing and sustenance that it provides.) How often I confess that, like Peter, I look at the waves that are threatening to drown instead of keeping my eyes fixed upon the One whom the sea and wind obey. And He does "make all things new" (although not at the speed I want Him to).

    In light of the absolution, and in the strength of it, there comes (with time) a reassurance that God has seen me through those times. Me? I tend to fear their re-occurrence, or fear the memory of those days. But sometimes, by God's grace, I find comfort in the fact that He has indeed seen me through, as Gerhardt wrote:
    Did not His love and truth and power
    watch o'er thy childhood day?
    Has He not oft in threatening hour
    turned dreaded ills away?

    And He has turned them away. In my love of the theology of glory, I think He ought not to have let the dreaded ills come in the first place. But even so, in my unbelief and doubts, He still turned those dreaded ills away. And there a resurrection to look forward to, where there will be no more pain nor tears nor sorrow.

  2. About getting rid of the painful memories:
    One thing I've found is just enduring them until there are new, intervening memories. Eventually, there are other things to remember. It's only been three years, DMR; that's not long enough to forget the sharpness of that pain. You won't ever forget it, but over time it will sting a little less.

    Another thing I've found is private confession. (Yes, I know you know this already, and I know you've found the blessing and sustenance that it provides.) How often I confess that, like Peter, I look at the waves that are threatening to drown instead of keeping my eyes fixed upon the One whom the sea and wind obey. And He does "make all things new" (although not at the speed I want Him to).

    In light of the absolution, and in the strength of it, there comes (with time) a reassurance that God has seen me through those times. Me? I tend to fear their re-occurrence, or fear the memory of those days. But sometimes, by God's grace, I find comfort in the fact that He has indeed seen me through, as Gerhardt wrote:
    Did not His love and truth and power
    watch o'er thy childhood day?
    Has He not oft in threatening hour
    turned dreaded ills away?

    And He has turned them away. In my love of the theology of glory, I think He ought not to have let the dreaded ills come in the first place. But even so, in my unbelief and doubts, He still turned those dreaded ills away. And there a resurrection to look forward to, where there will be no more pain nor tears nor sorrow.

  3. Susan gives sage advice: endure the bad memories "until there are new, intervening memories." I've often seen this with mourning. A new wife or child doesn't replace the deceased wife or child. But the new wife or child does fills part of us, requires attention, builds new memories. This doesn't stop us from mourning, but it gives us something besides the mourning. A new child gives us joy and time, if filled with joy, lessens our pain.

    Good post, btw, on the Resurrection. Hang in there.

  4. Susan gives sage advice: endure the bad memories "until there are new, intervening memories." I've often seen this with mourning. A new wife or child doesn't replace the deceased wife or child. But the new wife or child does fills part of us, requires attention, builds new memories. This doesn't stop us from mourning, but it gives us something besides the mourning. A new child gives us joy and time, if filled with joy, lessens our pain.

    Good post, btw, on the Resurrection. Hang in there.

  5. With some of my worst anxieties, sometimes I find that they are always there, but their sting starts to fade. The days that they plagued me before still plague me later, but instead, it gives me time to be reflective and not seized by the anxiety. It may be that those new memories do happen, but don't think there is something wrong if the old ones are still there as well. They will always be there and you will always carry them. However, it may be that instead of looking back with fear and depression, you will have an appreciation for God's gifts. But don't expect it right away. It will take time. Some of the memories that haunt me are a decade old. It's another way that this particular part of original sin haunts us. However, God is bigger than this, as well, with the "It is Finished" on the cross. Stinging memories or not, this fact remains.

  6. With some of my worst anxieties, sometimes I find that they are always there, but their sting starts to fade. The days that they plagued me before still plague me later, but instead, it gives me time to be reflective and not seized by the anxiety. It may be that those new memories do happen, but don't think there is something wrong if the old ones are still there as well. They will always be there and you will always carry them. However, it may be that instead of looking back with fear and depression, you will have an appreciation for God's gifts. But don't expect it right away. It will take time. Some of the memories that haunt me are a decade old. It's another way that this particular part of original sin haunts us. However, God is bigger than this, as well, with the "It is Finished" on the cross. Stinging memories or not, this fact remains.

  7. "My grace is sufficiant for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Co. 12.9) In my own battle with depression, those memories of dark days and nights, of weakness and sin, compel me to God's grace for me. I am thankful for the reality that Jesus experienced even greater darkness and depression both in the garden and in His forsakeness upon the cross than we will ever suffer. He has been there, done that, and has the nail holes to prove it. When He says He is with us in all ways, He is. Over the years, I have been privileged, it catch but a brief glimpse of times when the Lord has used His and my journeys through the valley of the shadow together to minister to others. Trust, as you trust His resurrection, that His promise to Paul is His promise to you as well. His power is made perfect in our weakness. I agree with Alms, your blog is a help to me as well. Our Lord is using your weakness to show forth His power.

  8. "My grace is sufficiant for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Co. 12.9) In my own battle with depression, those memories of dark days and nights, of weakness and sin, compel me to God's grace for me. I am thankful for the reality that Jesus experienced even greater darkness and depression both in the garden and in His forsakeness upon the cross than we will ever suffer. He has been there, done that, and has the nail holes to prove it. When He says He is with us in all ways, He is. Over the years, I have been privileged, it catch but a brief glimpse of times when the Lord has used His and my journeys through the valley of the shadow together to minister to others. Trust, as you trust His resurrection, that His promise to Paul is His promise to you as well. His power is made perfect in our weakness. I agree with Alms, your blog is a help to me as well. Our Lord is using your weakness to show forth His power.

  9. I don't really have any advice, except to say that Lent was difficult for me this year as well. I was hospitalized during Lent last year because I had suicidal plans. Attending Lenten services afterwards still in somewhat of a fog with my mental issues was difficult. I'm sorry to say I stayed away from those services this year. I still avoid anything that takes me back to the hospital time.

    1. Barb,

      It's hard when things keep us away from church, especially because we begin to feel guilt about it. We think to ourselves about how we are not old, shut-in, or have some other physical illness such as pneumonia that is keeping us from the Word and Sacraments. The guilt, however, is not given to us by God, nor is it correct. All sorts of things, things that we normally wouldn't think about when the thought crosses our minds that we shouldn't go to church, can keep us from the gathering of believers.

      However, as long as you are not despising God's preaching and His Word (ie. "God didn't help me in my time of sorrow, I'm not going back to church until He gives me a sign."), God does not see you the way that you see yourself. You see what you didn't do. You see guilt of failing to live up to His expectations as set forth in the Third Commandment. Whenever the focus is on what you do, that's going to be the result. Guilt. Shame. Failed expectations.

      But that isn't how God sees you. God sees you through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. He doesn't see depression, hospitalization, or other scary thoughts that you had and condemn you. He sees all of those and declares you righteous before Him as you are washed in Christ's blood and clothed in Him through your baptism.

      Make sure you keep your pastor informed about what is going on with you. Stay in prayer and daily devotions and remind yourself that it isn't about what you do but what Christ has done.

  10. I don't really have any advice, except to say that Lent was difficult for me this year as well. I was hospitalized during Lent last year because I had suicidal plans. Attending Lenten services afterwards still in somewhat of a fog with my mental issues was difficult. I'm sorry to say I stayed away from those services this year. I still avoid anything that takes me back to the hospital time.

    1. Barb,

      It's hard when things keep us away from church, especially because we begin to feel guilt about it. We think to ourselves about how we are not old, shut-in, or have some other physical illness such as pneumonia that is keeping us from the Word and Sacraments. The guilt, however, is not given to us by God, nor is it correct. All sorts of things, things that we normally wouldn't think about when the thought crosses our minds that we shouldn't go to church, can keep us from the gathering of believers.

      However, as long as you are not despising God's preaching and His Word (ie. "God didn't help me in my time of sorrow, I'm not going back to church until He gives me a sign."), God does not see you the way that you see yourself. You see what you didn't do. You see guilt of failing to live up to His expectations as set forth in the Third Commandment. Whenever the focus is on what you do, that's going to be the result. Guilt. Shame. Failed expectations.

      But that isn't how God sees you. God sees you through His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. He doesn't see depression, hospitalization, or other scary thoughts that you had and condemn you. He sees all of those and declares you righteous before Him as you are washed in Christ's blood and clothed in Him through your baptism.

      Make sure you keep your pastor informed about what is going on with you. Stay in prayer and daily devotions and remind yourself that it isn't about what you do but what Christ has done.

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