This is not the Easter story I was trying to write. I wanted to write something befitting the joy and triumph of redemption, something extolling the glory of the work God did through Christ on my behalf that early morning long ago. But, I was interrupted by a sharp look at myself. And, given my previously unscribed commitment to stay real, this is the Easter story I must write before I write anything else.
In case there are any of you out there who are living under an assumption that Christians do not intentionally do wrong sometimes, stand corrected. Even those of us who try to navigate the waters of sincerely following Jesus in this world do sin. And, sometimes we do it knowing full well what we are doing. It’s an ugly story.
I offended someone last week–actually two people. I would love to say that it was an accident, that I didn’t mean to do it. But, it wasn’t, and I knew that my actions probably would offend. Chalk it up to a difficult week or an incorrect assumption. Excuse it as not thinking before speaking or using poor judgement. Whatever my justification flavor of the moment, the fact is that I knew what I was doing. I even rejected the voice of my better angel telling me not to do it. At the moment, I just didn’t care. And so, I offended two people.
One forgave me. One didn’t, and I suppose it may have cost me whatever friendship we had. And while I was disappointed that our relationship wasn’t worth an act of forgiveness, I can’t begrudge the choice God gave her to make. I can only wish she had chosen differently. I wish I had chosen differently. Yes, because my actions hurt other people. But, more than that, because my actions showed who I still am.
When I peek into the reflection, I’m so disappointed. In myself. In the blackness I see in my own heart. Deep in the corners and crevices are places ugly and dark with the need for light and redemption and reform. Those places weigh my head down in sorrow and shame at how little I seem to have learned. Those places drive me to the scarred feet of that Man. The One who was laid in the tomb, bloodied. They drive me to view the absence of that Man at the resting place of death. They drive me to seek Him elsewhere. To take comfort in a renewed redemption. To once again seek the separation. As far as the East is from the West. To live in that space. Between. And to get up.
This is not the washed Easter story I would have written. No, only more so. In this story, the gently folded shroud is still bloodied by pain inflicted. The cloths left in piles are still soiled and stinking with recent sin. The rough-hewn rocky room is still dark with the self-sightedness of poor judgement, still jagged with the blows of carving out redemption. But, at the end of the day, the story is the same. At the end of the day–the second day–that Man was dead. And, just before daybreak on day three, He got up. Just like the sun, He established His trek westward reserving the space between, the distance from my sin that allows me to get up. And, that’s my Easter story.