I’m not with my kids this year on Good Friday, because of a work trip, but every year I struggle with what to tell them about this day.
We don’t have any special meals or activities on this day. No trees or chocolate eggs (apparently it never made any sense to do any Pagan celebration tie-ins with Good Friday). And it’s really hard to explain to kids why we call the day something horrible happened “Good Friday.”
I got the chance this morning to explain Good Friday to my friend’s daughter, who has no knowledge of Christian history or lore. When I forced myself to step back and think of how it would make sense as a narrative but also to explain the cultural significance and points of mystery and significance to her, I realized that I have been spending way too much time wanting my kids to like Easter. As if their faith or knowledge depended on their being snookered in by the chocolate bunnies. I thought I’d been going in with the clear understanding that I’m responsible for their religious education, but not their faith, which is something they can only share with God. I can encourage it and answer questions and share my own experiences, but at the end of the day liking Christian holidays is neither necessary nor sufficient for faith.
But I’d tricked myself into thinking my children’s faith was something I had control over.
It took me a long time to understand what people meant when they talking about the discipline of faith. I understood that it meant work. And then I understood that sometimes that work consisted solely of showing up every day. But it took me longer to understand that part of the discipline is cultivating the ability to be wrong, again and again, to slide off the path and yet keep turning back to God instead of hiding in shame. Being wrong repeatedly builds up muscles I didn’t know I had, but it gets easier the more I admit it.
I’m sure there’s some larger analogy, a pretty bow, to draw around my discovery of my own stupidity this morning and that it happened on Good Friday but it centered around a misappropriation of Easter. I don’t want it, though. I’m going to take it for what it is, and rethink how I approach Easter with my boys in two days, and then keep trying.
May this weekend be meaningful for you whether you’re celebrating a holiday or not.