One of my reasons for not blogging much lately has definitely been the busyness that I mentioned in my last post, but having a full schedule is not the only reason I have avoided writing. An even greater reason for my procrastination has been feeling totally overwhelmed with thoughts over the past few weeks, and not knowing how to start getting them out in a way that even remotely makes sense. I realized today that there are really three major themes that have rotated in and out of a center stage position in my mind over the past month; so I've decided to post about each, separately, even though they are all orbiting one central idea.
At the start of this year's Lenten season, I purposed to reflect on the impact of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross more faithfully than I have most other years. I'm not sure why Lent seemed especially important to me this year - perhaps because I have not been very diligent in nurturing my relationship with the Lord in past few months and I was feeling especially hungry for it, perhaps because I'm a little afraid of being permanently traumatized by my job and any reminder that Jesus is victorious has become especially important to me, or perhaps the Holy Spirit was just prompting me to be extra watchful during this Lenten season because the life events that surround me make anticipating the Resurrection especially meaningful. Whatever the reason has been for the increased sensitivity of my heart ever since Ash Wednesday, I am so grateful for the richness that God has allowed me to taste, and it is out of His generosity to me that the following few posts have sprung. (NOTE: I was not raised in a church that adhered to the traditional church calendar, but I have found it very encouraging and significant to observe some of the old traditions on my own.)
The first major theme that has been on my heart since the beginning of Lent has been the weight of the cross of Christ. In the past, 1 Peter 2:24 has held very little emotional buy-in for me. This verse states, "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed." I have definitely given mental assent to the truth and significance of this verse, and I'm very aware that my forgiveness and salvation come through Christ's sacrifice for me; but the idea of Jesus bearing my sins in His body has always been such an abstract concept that I've never been able to connect emotionally to it ... until this year. I'm not sure how to say this next bit in a way that does not sound supremely arrogant, so please bear with me and try to hear my heart.
Over the past few months I have begun to carry around a burden much darker and heavier than any I have experienced before. I feel so stuck in my attempt to describe this burden - I have just now retyped this sentence three times trying to figure out the best way to convey it, but my thoughts only come in short spurts: precious children, evil, shame, lust, sensuality, confusion, anger, ANGER, helplessness, hopelessness, hopefulness, resilience, frustration, impossible cycles ... ickiness. I experience major extremes of emotion on nearly a daily basis at work. It is not at all uncommon to go from feeling nauseous, to very angry, to hopeful and excited, to uncomfortable and uncertain, to just plain sad over the course of 5 to 8 sessions on any given weekday. I know that my experience, as a counselor, pales immensely in comparison to that of the victims and their families, but there are many days when I leave the office and can almost feel a physical heaviness resting on me from what I have heard that day. The weight of the sin that has been inflicted upon these little ones, and the weight of the sins that I know some of them will engage in and even inflict on others as they struggle to make sense of this broken world has exploded my understanding of the fact that Jesus bore our sins in His body. No wonder He was so distressed before His crucifixion that He sweat blood!
My tiny taste of what it is like to bear the heaviness of the sins of others in my own body brings me to tears when I try to imagine the heart-crushing weight that Jesus carried for us all. I know so much more than I wish I did about the Evil that seeks to steal, kill, & destroy; and I am so grateful that I am not the One who knows it all. The cross may appear to be two simple pieces of wood and some rough nails, but this year I understand that only One could have carried a burden so heavy, and only One could have withstood spikes that cut so deep. And then the sun stopped shining & Jesus cried out of the desperation of abandonment (Matthew 27:45-46). Unfathomable sacrifice.