"In your Easter bonnet,
with all the frills upon it,
you'll be the grandest lady
in the Easter Parade."
- Irving Berlin
Up until this season in my life, Easter had been all about the basket, the chocolate bunny and the colorful eggs. My childhood was filled with going to church every Sunday, which especially included Christmas and Easter, and then returning to an extended family member's home for a meal and just generally enjoying all of these special days together. However, this one year in particular, at the ripe ol' age of 25, I had a sweet ~but confusing~ law enforcement marriage, a new ~and rather expensive~ home, two beautiful ~and busy~ girls (our son was born a year later), and a longing for something more than just the Hallmark style holidays. I wanted more depth, more learning and more information about these holidays.
AN EXTRAORDINARY DAY
It was the Saddleback Church service on the sun-soaked Easter morning of 1993. The service had to be held outside because the tent just wasn't big enough for the growing population of people that called this church their home. It was a beautiful, crisp and clear day. The chairs were set up in neat rows on a huge clearing of land atop the hill belonging to the church, but not yet built upon. It was such an extraordinary day, that even the outfit I was wearing is etched into my mind like a beautiful tapestry. Yummy yellow pants with a white linen top that had a big, flow-ey front adorned with a bow that tied two rounded collars together in front. Of course I put on my sweet blue pumps for a pop of color, it was Easter after all. I was excited when Brian decided to come along with the girls and I, so that we could enjoy a special family day together.
Pastor Rick Warren’s message was titled “Experiencing Freedom This Easter!” I hung on every single word as if my life depended on it. He spoke of Christ setting us free...and free indeed! Free from the guilt over my past, free from any worry about my future, free from purposeless living and free from having to earn my way to heaven.
This was medicine for my aching soul.
At this point in my early 20’s I really was up to my earlobes in worry, doubt, debt and suddenly I was processing a new life. This new life came with roles that required much of me; physically, emotionally, mentally and relationally. These roles of becoming a wife, mom, home owner and neighbor all came upon me within a three year time period. Each and every one of these roles felt like a winter coat that was added, one on top of the other, on top of the other, getting heavy enough to dig me into a deep pit. The fear and confusion had me screaming for help, I just didn't realize that God was my answer...for everything - until the message on that fateful Easter Day.
I needed to sit in this church service as much as I needed blood to be pumping through my body. One of those chairs sitting in those neat little rows was meant just for me. The people, the worship and the message were all working some hardcore CPR into every part of my existence. I felt like I belonged here. I felt settled for the first time in my life. "This is the place," I thought, "where I can begin to wrestle and find answers for my very heavy load of questions, complaints and burdens."
This day allowed me to process the idea of becoming a "church attender" without feeling funky or weird. I knew that having a rhythm of Sunday services would give me an education into "Him" and guide me into ways of sorting out the good, bad and ugly of "me." With a sigh of relief and the recognition that church wasn't scary anymore, I committed myself to the Lord, surrendered my stuff and began to breath again. Only this time, on this Easter Day, I breathed differently, and with His breath healing my very needy soul.
The Ups and Downs of Life...