As we continue moving through the season of Lent, we are acutely aware of both our personal and collective brokenness. Here, Kate Creech, MA in Counseling Psychology student, writes that the revelation of Jesus’s wounds is an invitation for us to lament and bear witness to our own wounds, and to continue naming the systems of harm all around us. (Featured art: “Chiaroscuro,” acrylic on a wood panel, by Kate Creech.)
I feel the ache of Easter in my bones. In the midst of the #MeToo movement (originally started in 2006 by activist Tarana Burke), the Larry Nassar scandal, and the countless other men and women in power being called to account for their actions, I am weary. I hurt for the people who carry stories that haven’t been shared yet, and I grieve over my own. I want to look away after every memory surfaces and away from the new horrific accounts of sexual abuse in the news. But there is also a sense of relief, of a breath being released after being held for far too long. As I look to the calendar that points towards Easter weekend, I am grateful for the purposeful space that Lent provides for me to grieve and reflect. I realize I need more than Good Friday this year to contemplate the wounds and sacrifice of Christ.
In an interview with Christianity Today, Rachael Denhollander said, “One of the areas where Christians don’t do well is in acknowledging the devastation of the wound. We can tend to gloss over the devastation of any kind of suffering but especially sexual assault, with Christian platitudes like God works all things together for good or God is sovereign. Those are very good and glorious biblical truths, but when they are misapplied in a way to dampen the horror of evil, they ultimately dampen the goodness of God. Goodness and darkness exist as opposites. If we pretend that the darkness isn’t dark, it dampens the beauty of the light.”
This season is darkness and light slamming violently together. Thinking about the agony of Christ’s death and the utter hopelessness of the burial scene is actually comforting to me. It feels like permission to grieve. As I was growing up, I deeply appreciated the Good Friday services at one particular church we attended. The lights were lowered, soft mournful hymns were sung, and after we stood together in communal acknowledgement, we left in silence. It was one day out of the entire year that some of what it means to grieve as a church was actually played out. But it was only for one day. We need to sit a little longer with our own sorrow, telling our stories to those we trust to begin making meaning of them. Then joy has a place to settle and spread. I have found that it is only when I give weight to both suffering and joy that I feel whole.
In Jesus’s revelation of his wounds to Thomas I find the courage to share my own. In His cry of Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani from the cross I find the peace to embrace my fear of abandonment and despair. If Jesus can cry out to the Father, I can too. But that was not the church culture I grew up in. There was a brief nod in the direction of death, only for the heavy black cloth that lay over the wooden cross above the pulpit to be taken away after one church service. The abrupt shift almost felt violent. A day is not enough to mourn sin and death. It is especially not enough time to grieve the violence of sexual abuse that occurs not just out in the world, but in the very rooms and buildings that bear His name. During the days leading up to Easter my heart cries out, “come quickly Lord. This is too much. It’s too painful to bear.”
The #MeToo movement brought much needed awareness to what is happening in the darkness, but it is not the end. There will not be an end to new stories of abuse until Christ’s return. The question is how will we as a community care for the wounds that have been inflicted? How can we hold onto the glorious truths of goodness while also holding those who weep close to us? When I feel I’m at the end of my capacity to grieve for others and myself, I remember what a dear friend told me, “love does not come in limited quantities. It is limitless.” I hold on to that truth as countless other reports of sexual abuse continue to pour out in the news and in my community. Love gives me the strength to hold “me too,” and the faith to believe that this is not how the story ends.