A Good Day To Die

a Black Good Friday reflection

It is on a day like today that I am drowning, as I have been for many months now. Over the past two years my life has taken a dramatic turn. Caught up in my own self-discovery and in the recognition of the circumstances of Black people in America, I responded to what I felt like God was telling me to do.

That was my only commitment, to say yes to the next thing God put before me. Not to change my life path, or experience consistent trauma, or have my public image up for defamation. And yet here I am many months later, in a world that doesn’t take breaks for me to catch up, with a Google search that I may never be able to outrun. Where consumption is easy and healing is suffocated, I’m trying to figure out how to thrive in a society that threatens my survival. Most days I feel like I am losing.

“Where consumption is easy and healing is suffocated, I’m trying to figure out how to thrive in a society that threatens my survival.”

At the beginning of Lent my pastor said “This time is about remembering how incredibly fragile and dependent upon God you are; anything that brings you closer to that realization is probably a good thing”. I remember thinking to myself that such a humbling would be something worthwhile to pursue. Ultimately, the humbling pursued me.

Mental health crises in my personal circles. Saying goodbye to my little brother as he joined the Air Force. Being triggered repeatedly by the presidential election as my friends are beaten and Black folks are used as pawns in a display of grand political theatre. And no moment was clearer than a few days ago, when as I drove down a hill in downtown Seattle during rush hour my brakes went out.


Right now I am learning death; that parts of me need to die that I might live. My strong Black woman? She has to die. My independent autonomous adult self? She has to die. The ‘me’ who experiences trauma, struggles to heal, and then shames myself for not being able to pull it together? She needs to die. The ‘me’ that everyone expects me to perform, that people feel like they know and are entitled to because of my public image? She has to die.

But most importantly, the ‘me’ that thinks that I am the steward of my own life, that this pain and trauma is not a part of the path to holiness, that I do not need the Christ to live…she has to die. Truthfully she doesn’t even know she is already dead.

“The ‘me’ that thinks that I am the steward of my own life, that this pain and trauma is not a part of the path to holiness, that I do not need the Christ to live…she has to die.”

Today is Good Friday. In the Christian tradition it is the day we reflect upon the death and suffering of Jesus Christ on the day he was crucified by the Roman state. It is a day filled with symbolism, calling on Christians to pause before the hope of Easter Sunday and take in the incredible devastation of the cross.

So on this Good Friday, where we call suffering and sacrifice “good”, I eagerly await the crucifixion. Not just of the Christ, but of all of my ego, and fear, and shame that dies with him. My resurrection is coming, but today and every day, first I must die.

Marissa J. Johnson