Celebrating Easter When You Have All the Emotions
Yesterday, I went on a walk around my neighborhood because I simply HAD to get out of the house. There were too many things going on in my head, I was frustrated, I had a headache, we’ve been staying at home in quarantine for 3 1/2 weeks, and I was getting super grumpy – I knew if I didn’t get out of the house, I would start to take it out on people who didn’t deserve my wrathful impatience at all.
As I started walking, I could feel, actually almost hear, my heart thumping. Not because of my exercise, but because of my flaring emotions. It was an angry beat that I needed to calm down and I knew it. I popped in my earbuds and turned on some music because I knew that I needed some Jesus. Specifically, I needed a reminder that this was Holy Week.
Andrew Peterson’s song, “The Sower’s Song”, came on. An artist I love, but for some reason I had never listened to this song before. And I started thinking about Easter. And my kids. And sadness. And joy. And parenting. And failure. And redemption. My 7-year old asked me today, “Mommy, how can God bring something good out of the coronavirus? How can He work it for good?” I had heard a million questions about penguins and schedules and screen time and homework and outclasses and missing friends and breakfast, and my brain was tired. But out of my grumpy fog, the Lord told me to stop and listen. Not just hear.
“LISTEN to her, Michelle. Can you explain to her how I can make good things come out of terrible?” How can my God bring a harvest out of hurt?
I walked around the corner and saw one of my friends, a single woman in her 70s, power-washing her neighbor’s driveway. She looked tired. She told me she had come outside because she figured she could stay inside and be depressed, or she could come outside and do something that was helpful for someone else. Normally, she keeps her emotions to herself, but lately, she has opened up more. “Why aren’t we allowed to feel things and tell people how we feel, Michelle? Why do we always have to acknowledge that someone has it worse than we do? Can we acknowledge that but also still be able to share when we are hurting or having a hard time and not have someone get onto us because it could be so much worse?” We talked for awhile – about how tired she was of being by herself and how she missed her Sunday School class, about how I just had to take a walk or I might explode on someone. Then, we said our goodbyes and I kept walking and listening to music and she went back to power-washing.
I walked down a street that I hadn’t walked down in years. Neighbors that I didn’t know drove by. I waved. They waved. I caught a whiff of gardenia, a pleasant aroma that took me back to my childhood for a moment – my mother’s favorite scent. I felt my heart angry beating, but not as hard as it was before. I saw a bright aqua door – unexpected and bright and cheery. I thought of my dear friend and her hurt and depression and willingness to speak of it. I thought of another acquaintance who had recently been diagnosed with the coronavirus – he and his wife and his daughter – and how it doesn’t look like he will make it and my heart breaks just thinking about it. Then my thoughts moved to my sweet friends who just had a baby boy prematurely, but he is growing and progressing in the NICU. And another dear family who just received a baby girl by adoption after waiting for her for 3 years. And how much joy those situations brought to my heart.
It’s such a confusing season.
Fear and hope. Foulness and fragrance. Dullness and color. Anger and love. Depression and joy. Ashes and beauty. We are so often taught that one feeling at a time is normal. One feeling at a time is manageable. What happens when we have all of the feelings at once? How does God work through both? How CAN he bring a harvest out of hurt? How do I abide in Him and let these branches bear fruit when I feel pain and anger and loss and promise and hope? How many emotions can humanity go through in such a short time?
Easter Week was like this, the first one.
Think about Jesus’ disciples. They saw the crowds cheer for Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem. They watched him anger the city leaders when he threw people out of the temple. They witnessed him standing up to the leaders’ hypocrisy. They were confused as he talked about the days to come. They balked as He washed their feet. They saw one of their own betray Him. They defended Him. They ran. They denied Him. They saw Him crucified by the same people who had just cheered for Him. They saw Him die. All within the space of one week.
And then they witnessed a risen Savior. RISEN FROM THE DEAD.
I can’t even fathom the depth of each of those feelings. The excitement. The pride. The anger. The confusion. The wonder. The fear. The shame. The disbelief. The hopelessness. The AWE. And each of these feelings were valid at the moment and also dependent on the circumstances they were experiencing.
But let me repeat it…
HE. IS. RISEN.
That hasn’t changed in 2000 years. It had been the plan the whole time. God’s plans are not dependent on how we feel in the moment. It is His steadfastness that holds us up through the rollercoaster of emotions. That remains the same. HE remains the same. He is good. He is faithful. He is sovereign. He is a refuge. His understanding is far above ours. His ways cannot be understood. He takes what the enemy means for evil and turns it for good. His resurrection doesn’t take away pain, and it doesn’t take away suffering. But it brought the ultimate victory and salvation. And knowledge of that resurrection is a place for joy to reside, a foundational bedrock underneath those flowing feelings. If we know we serve a risen Savior and we know that He is living, that knowledge holds us to what is real and true in the midst of ebb and flow and gives us solace and comfort and a foothold.
So as you go through this week, this month, this season of staying at home – yes, feel the feelings. The valid, multiple, differing feelings as your crazy life changes with the wind. But anchor them to the joy that comes from knowing your Savior is unchanging and ALIVE and the victor over sin and death.
My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. — Psalm 62:1-2
Michelle Curnutte holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications Studies from Furman University and earned a Master of Arts in Christian Education and Ministry-Based Evangelism from Southwestern Theological Seminary. She has been teaching and/or working with young people for more than 20 years in church, parachurch, and educational organizations and is lifetime certified through the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI).
Michelle is a follower of Christ, a wife, a stay-at-home mama, choir director, avid reader, world traveler, passionate advocate, kitchen enthusiast, adventure seeker, moderate risk taker, dabbling scholar, occasional spendthrift, fierce embracer of joy and lover of life. She has an amazing, encouraging husband, Greg, who is super patient with her on a daily basis, as well as two spunky, curious, sweet, and hilarious daughters.
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