This post is written as part of the blog carnival hosted by Angela at Becoming Me. Check out the link to find more great reflections from other bloggers on what Easter means to them.
Easter has often been a rocky time for me. It was something we celebrated and I could quote you book, chapter and verse on why we celebrated Easter but I couldn’t have ever really said that I felt like celebrating Easter. Sacrilege, I know, a good Christian girl not wanting to celebrate Easter. But there you have it. Easter was one of those days where I felt left out.
When I was younger I felt left out because all my friends got Easter baskets full of chocolate rabbits and jelly bean eggs, most of the time we only got something if my dad’s employer handed out candy. As I got older I felt left out because I never seemed to get the pretty new Easter dresses that other girls got. Older still, and I began to feel left out because despite a world of head knowledge about the resurrection, despite baptism, despite Christian schooling, despite a professed faith I just didn’t ‘feel’ Easter. Wasn’t there supposed to be joy? “Lift your glad voices,” and so forth? If I couldn’t feel the joy of Easter, was I even any good as a Christian? It’s taken me most of a lifetime to realize that I first had to surrender at the foot of the cross in order to understand the glory of the resurrection.
Looking back now it seems pretty clear that even in my teenage years I was already struggling with depression and anxiety, and Easter coming at the end of a cold winter, more often than not being cold and wet when it arrived was not going to imbue me with warm and happy feelings just by showing up on the calendar. But my lack of joy and my inability to feel what I thought a good Christian ought to feel only added to the frustration, only fed my depression more. “Why can’t I get this right?” I would think. At the darkest moments I questioned whether life was even worth living if I couldn’t get this one simple thing right.
College came, and during those years I began to gain a better understanding of the grace and love of Christ. In the following years there were some beautiful Easter experiences. Sitting alone at the top of a hill on campus watching the sun rise over the mountains. Joining with my church for a sunrise service on a hillside overlooking rolling hills and farmland. Many years, though, Easter has just marked another date on the calendar.
Last year my frustration again came to a head. It was a difficult time, struggling once again with depression, struggling with my identity as a new stay at home mom; once again, I just wasn’t ‘feeling’ Easter. In the days and weeks that followed though I began to learn something. Easter doesn’t begin with the happy feel-good celebrations. Easter really begins at the foot of the cross, and until I begin to throw myself daily at the foot of that cross and the wonder of the sacrifice that Christ made on it, Easter will remain nothing more than a pretty pastel holiday. It’s the sacrifice that covers my sins. It’s the love involved that allows me to trust Him to carry my burdens. Easter is the assurance that Christ has conquered death, it is my future hope of eternal life.
I’ve learned something else as well. Feelings are fickle, subject to chemistry, the weather, what I had for dinner last night. Easter was never meant to be a feeling, it is a fact. I can celebrate the fact that Christ is risen even when I’m at my lowest points. I’m not celebrating the warm and fuzzy peeps and chocolate bunnies wrapped in pastel ribbons Easter. I’m celebrating the power of the stone rolled away, the empty tomb, the risen Lord appearing to his followers. I don’t have to feel anything to begin to celebrate that, I just need to bow in reverence and from the depths of my heart say, “Thank you.” And joy will follow.