Can you imagine how Mary felt seeing her son not only die, but suffer horribly? How about the disciples? Three years of miracles and hope totally eclipsed by the horror of what was happening to their friend, mentor, leader. Judas? The rising agony as the magnitude of what he has done overwhelms him. Peter? I can only imagine the burning, twisting shame that was filling him. So dark. So painful.
And Satan? I picture him as the oozy guy from Fern Gully, just sucking up all that poisonous, ugly emotion. A buffet of the negative human emotions he thrives on.
I have no idea if he knew the butt kicking that was coming his way, if he knew that his day of "victory" was a joke compared to the victory Christ was about to win over him and death. Friday though, being the self-centered, egotistical jerk that he is, I can imagine him pushing aside that niggling fear that this was too good to be true and wallowing in the negativity like Scrooge McDuck and his money (this is how my brain pictures things, not a theological argument).
As we know, Good Friday is not the end of the story. Christ conquered death. He kicked Satan's butt. Easter marks the most glorious day in history, the day that the break between God and His children was healed by the sacrifice that happened on that painful Friday. There is no image, no cartoon I can reference, that encompasses the magnitude of the glory of that day.
But for many, they are stuck in their own personal Good Friday. And oh how Satan loves that.
The more I spend time with people, especially people who are hurting and in pain, I've come to believe that Satan particularly loves shame. Not only is there pain or fear or doubt, but shame is the delicious cherry on top for him.
For the last six months I've been quite the source of fuel for that a-hole. I've been fighting a complex struggle with depression and anxiety. I've had days where I can barely get out of bed. Days where I feel so tired to the core of my being that I can almost count my individual cells. The pressure has gotten so intense in my chest that I imagine the only way to relieve it is to crack my sternum open. I've cried on the floor in the fetal position. I've screamed at the top of my lungs. It has been painful, isolating, and alarming. Satan is having a field day. He loves it. And he really loves the shame I feel about it. Not only does he get to feast on my pain and my hopelessness but he is savoring my embarrassment.
When I try to talk to people about it, he twists their responses so that I feel unloved and "too much" for people. A genuine question that comes from a place of caring, "why do you feel that way," becomes judgmental and condescending. A look of justified alarm becomes condemnation. The love and caring I am surrounded by disappears in a haze of isolation and embarrassment. I can practically hear Satan cackling with glee.
I'm writing this all out not as a cry of help or for pity. I have wonderful people in my life who are helping me through this. I have a great therapist and doctor, a saint of a husband, amazing friends and family, and I am fighting the good fight. I'm writing about it because I'm tired of the shame surrounding mental health issues, especially in the church. Not only is it unhelpful and unloving to the individuals who are struggling with psychological problems to shame them or ignore these problems, it is a tasty fuel for the enemy.
On this day of darkness, on a day that the enemy thought he won, I'm screaming back that he most assuredly did not.
Mental health problems are very real, very painful, and can not be ignored. This is just as true in the Church as out of it. Pretending it is not is gross. If you are struggling and feel shame about it, please, please hear me. You are not broken beyond fixing, your faith is not weak, there is nothing shameful about mental health problems and fighting them. If you are fighting back, that makes my spirit soar.
On Sunday we celebrate Christ's victory over the grave. That victory extends to all, no matter how dark your Friday feels.