Two Good Fridays ago was quite possibly one of the ten worst days of my life.
I hesitate when I try to explain it, because if I were to say “my child died” every person with a human child will rush in to say it isn’t the same. And I’m sure for you it isn’t. In a way it isn’t for me either, because I know of no parent (who wants a psychologically stable son) who spends every waking minute with their child, who sleeps next to their child and who relies on their child for comfort and security. So when Casey left us it was more like losing child, best friend, guardian angel and not-scary clown all at once.
I had spent weeks watching him die, sleeping by him on the floor and comforting him while he screamed in pain. It hit me in that dark haze that his day of death was Good Friday and I realised then that God not only knew how hard it was for me but was sending me a message in neon. Several messages, actually.
Message One: I went through this. For you. Willingly.
Message Two: I love you, silly thing. As Casey was your dog, you are my dog. It would be nice if you could learn to love me as unquestioningly, smilingly and obediently as Casey loves you.
Message Three: Earthly death is not forever. Nor is earthly pain. Because I went through this. For you. Willingly.
Fast forward to four-thirty this morning. I was in a bout of what I call “the screamies”.(ETA: I finally looked this up. It has an actual name: allodynia.) It’s hard to describe, but it’s essentially a weird sort of horrible pain combined with all the nerve endings in my skin misfiring. Anything that isn’t completely smooth will cause me to scream in agony–so a quilt with knots in it or a blanket with microfiber feel to me similar to what pebbles feel like in the shoe of a normal person. On every inch of their body. Yes, it’s weird. Very weird. But in the middle of that weird pain it hit me that today was Good Friday.
So of course I went to that whole “focus on your pain and how it relates to the pain of Jesus during the crucifixion” place. There’s a Catholic doctrine for it with a name that I’ll have to look up in a minute. There are a lot of Catholics who induce pain ritualistically in order to practice this doctrine. Lucky me. I don’t need whips or hairshirts. Anyway, back to the story.
So I’m laying there thinking about all of this and then it occurs to me. God doesn’t experience time like we do. We’re always telling people that when we talk about things like the verses about predestination and once-saved-always-saved. God exists outside of time.
Does that mean, I wonder, if that while the man Jesus only had to put up with the pain of the cross for about a day, that the God Jesus knows that pain forever? Will always have that pain as part of being God? I bet it does. And that, right there, that blew my mind. Because down here we always make this big deal about how today is Friday–but Sunday’s coming. The Resurrection and OUR deliverence from death and pain. OURS. So in the back of my mind I’ve always felt good for Jesus because as bad as it was it only lasted for three days.
Nope. I’d bet that for the God who exists outside of time there is always the pain of the cross. For us. Willingly.