On Easter Sunday, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
That wasn’t always true for me. While Easter Sunday used to be one of the only two days my family would attend church each year, it was never anything special for me, personally. I liked getting dressed up (though I could have done without the oversized hat) but never understood why we did or why we were attending church on that particular day.
This year is my third Easter as a believer in Christ. It is my second son’s first Easter, and he will be dedicated at our church two weeks from now: a ceremony that places the responsibility of sharing our faith on myself and my husband but that ultimately leaves the choice to accept Christ into his life up to Theodore. We’re making meatloaf and macaroni and cheese, a tradition Anthony and I started three years ago when we were financially unwell and had no money for special Easter dinners but everything to make some BOMB meatloaf and mac & cheese. A tradition that keeps us humble, good stewards of our finances, and reminds us that God ALWAYS provides everything we need, sometimes with a few bread crumbs sprinkled on top as a little treat.
What a beautiful day to celebrate Easter. After a long winter of snow and cold and miscarriage and grief, today is a warm and sunny day. It feels symbolic. Finally, there is hope of new life after the death of winter.
Honestly, I was feeling pretty down this morning.
I didn’t want to. After all, today wasn’t about me. Yesterday, on Holy Saturday, I reflected on the parallels between Holy Week and my own current life events. I shared this on my Instagram feed yesterday:
Listening to my favorite episode of the Through the Lens Podcast, Ep. 13 “The Grave,” the hosts relate their trials to the time between Good Friday and Easter Sunday: Holy Saturday. They say the hope of Easter has a whole new significance now that they are living in the in-between, a time between death and the hope of new life in Christ.
“We thank you that we don’t need to rush this grieving process but that you have left room for us to just sit in the Saturday that came between that Good Friday and your Resurrection on Sunday and just for the ways that you minister to us even there as we await the hope of Sunday.”
This parallel is really speaking to me in this season of growing faith and now two recent, back-to-back losses. While I’ve learned in recent years why we get excited for Easter– and I AM excited– I am reflecting this year on Holy Saturday and how that in-between day we’ve always rushed through to get to Sunday really highlights the hope of Easter and the joy of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Sunday is coming, but today is Saturday. Christ is coming, but right now we yearn for Him. Right now, the world is not right. It is in chaos and mourning. On Sunday, He will rise, but today is Saturday.
My reflection carried into this morning, and I just couldn’t get into the swing of things for Easter. I didn’t sing with the choir; it just didn’t feel right for me in this season, even though I’ve always loved choir and haven’t had the joy of participating for several years. Finally, the pastor’s message snapped me out of it when he said, “We no longer fear death, hell, or the grave.” He reminded me (well, the congregation) that we need to trust, believe, and put our confidence in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding Proverbs 3:5.
By the end of the service, my heart and spirit felt renewed. My mind was back to where it should be: to celebrate Jesus and his VICTORY over death. On the way home, I told Anthony I wanted to go for a walk. He offered to let me go by myself, knowing I feel closer to God that way. We put the boys down for their naps, and I came downstairs to find the clouds had started rolling in. So much for a clear and sunny walk. But it was actually kind of perfect.
I had just received a message from a dear, well-meaning friend in response to my announcement of our recent fourth miscarriage. In past years– maybe even last year– this response would have thrown me:
Sometimes we need to slow down and work with what we have and not think about what we want… You need to relax. Enjoy the ride and those little smiles you already have… You got to trust. I think about you all the time… I wish I could do more. Remember life is short you have to enjoy what we got.
And my reply:
Thank you so much for reaching out and for thinking of me. I so appreciate your kind words. Please know I love and appreciate you when I say some of these well-meaning things are not helpful to hear in the midst of grief. I am endlessly grateful for my two baby boys. In a way, that makes this grief harder. I want my only feeling to be JOY for the babies I have, but sadly their existence does not take away the death of the four babies I have lost. One does not replace the other. We were not trying to get pregnant, which again, makes this harder. We weren’t trying to get more than we already have, yet we received two glorious, unexpected gifts within 4 months only to have them taken away. Each baby is a precious gift of God, and we didn’t do anything to deserve any of our six babies. I thank God for each of their lives, but I do miss four of them this side of heaven, and that is ok. What I need is not to relax or work with what I have but for my loved ones to meet me where I am right now– in the midst of grief. To let me feel it and love me through it. Death is sad. It’s not right. There’s no fixing it or undoing it. That’s what I’m working with right now.
An Easter Prayer in a Gloomy Season
So I went for my walk around the same field of grass I had visited many times as a teenager a decade ago. Two weeks ago, I couldn’t believe I was circling that field, pregnant for a sixth time after years of infertility and three losses, a happy wife, homeowner, and mother of two precious babies sleeping in the house I could see from where I sat on a bench near the footpath, weighed down by the disbelief of it all. One week ago, I made the same walk except then, I couldn’t even look at the field. I couldn’t reconcile the innocent teenager watching her baby sister play peewee soccer and the woman she had become: grown, married, and a mother who had lost two-thirds of her pregnancies.
Today, on Easter Sunday, the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, it was cloudy and sunny at the same time, and I just couldn’t help but feel God meeting me where I was.
Thank you, Jesus, for this beautiful day; for the warmth and sunshine following darkness and rain. For a reason to celebrate in an otherwise gloomy season. I thank you for meeting me where I am right now; for allowing the sun to shine and for the clouds to exist at the same time. To my left, I see gray clouds threatening rain, but to my right, I forget about them as the sun is in full view, unwavering in its confidence. I pray that one day, the clouds will dissapate and the skies will be clear and blue again.
I thank you for knowing my heart so that I don’t have to explain it or justify it but that I can just be. I thank you for making space for grief but that your light shines through and overpowers it, just as the sunbeams break through the clouds overhead today on this glorious day of your Resurrection. I thank you, God, for working in my heart over the years so that I may be unphased by hurtful comments but that I may take what’s helpful and leave the rest.
I thank you for my six precious babies. Thank you for conquering death so that four of them may live with you in a perfect land free of tears or suffering. I can’t imagine what that place looks like, but I hope there’s dancing. Thank you for my husband. Thank you for my two sweetest, happiest, most social, most adventerous, most content, healthy little boys. Thank you for our home. I know this life could be PURE suffering, but by your grace and kindness, you have given us gifts: spiritual gifts and physical gifts; temporary, worldly gifts and eternal gifts. Thank you for my family with whom I get to do this life and for your Son, Jesus, who has overcome the grave and given us the hope of a perfect, eternal life to look forward to.
Thank you, Jesus, for your life, death, and resurrection. Thank you for the perfect example you have set during your life with us here on earth, your unconditional love and endless forgiveness when we fall short of that example, and for the hope we have in new life in You.
You have risen. You have risen, indeed. Thank you, oh Lord, for conquering death and for loving us through this life until we can be with You in the next.
In the name of Jesus, I pray,
While I started the day in a funk, unable to get out of my own head, I am ending with thanksgiving, not because of what my well-meaning friend said but because of Jesus. And while today is all about Him, Easter has taken on a personal meaning for me this year. The Resurrection gives me hope for personal reasons, and that’s important because it means I am forming a personal relationship with Christ. I am able to see Jesus through the lens of my own life experiences and see my own life experiences through the lens of Jesus. This year, Easter is special for me personally, and for that, I give thanks.