Easter. Let's break open the shell.

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Easter--a different perspective today than in the past.

Forgive me for going off course, but today, Easter Sunday, I have to voice my thoughts about Easter.

Easter today is not what it was to me years ago.  

Years ago, every single Easter Sunday for as long as I can remember, my mom and my siblings would go to the "country" and visit my grandfather.  We would go to church with him, the entire family, and we had a big family--uncles, aunts, cousins, kids, grandkids.  All of us would sit in the pews surrounding him, and he would reach his arms and hands as far as possible on the back of the pews to touch all of us.  The smile on his face was unlike any smile I have ever seen before or since.  It will be in my memory when many other things have long been forgotten.  He was so proud of his family.  We would listen to the story of how our Father in Heaven gave up his only son to forgive our sins and has been resurrected.  

After church, he would introduce each and every one of us to everyone in the church.  Each of us with pride and that smile on his face. I loved hearing the story of Jesus, but mostly I loved being with my grandpa and feeling the love that he always conveyed for his family and how the family was happy that day.  That one day everything was good in the world.

My dad was an alcoholic, my parents divorced when I was nine, and I never really felt the love of a father.  So feeling the love of our Heavenly Father and my grandpa on that day was special, really, really special, even though back then I did not understand why.  It was my favorite holiday for years and years and years.  Then one day and forever more grandpa was gone.  I tried to recreate this special day with my own kids and grandkids but was never successful. Missing my grandpa and the love felt from and for him was irrecoverable.  I was sure I would never feel that love again.

Fast forward about 40 years, and life has a way of taking you places you do not want to go.  I made some horrifically bad decisions, was in debt, my son developed alcoholism, I had made choices that hurt people, guilt was my constant companion, and I could not sleep.  I woke up worrying and crying and went to bed worrying and crying.  I would lie awake, my mind spinning.  I could not stop the spinning as much as I tried.

Then one Sunday morning I was watching television and found a program where a Pastor Salem was talking about forgiveness and how all we had to do was ask.  Ask, that's it!  It brought me back to my childhood and going to church with my grandpa and grandma.  I started crying.  Then I started screaming. Then I got down on my hands and knees and asked God to forgive me because my soul could not bear the burden a second longer.  This was something like a four-hour crying, screaming, begging, heart-wrenching, gut-spewing, and soul-purging experience right in the middle of my living room, by myself, just me and God.  When it was over, somehow I knew for sure, without a doubt, without question whatsoever that I was forgiven.  My Heavenly Father was with me this time, and I knew that I had been heard, maybe for the first time in my life.  

From that day forward, I never, ever lay awake with my head spinning because I couldn't stop my brain from twirling!  That was about six years ago.  This is a completely true honest-to-God story. It changed my life, my heart, my head.  I wanted the last half of my life to be filled with actions that would make me worthy of that forgiveness, that peace that I felt in my heart, and in my soul.  That forgiveness was freeing.  It freed up the deepest part of my soul to forgive myself and to forgive others. I knew then that I could finally forgive myself because if He could forgive me, then somehow He was giving me permission to forgive myself.  With that forgiveness, I was then allowed to lift my broken wings.

Regardless of our faith choices, on this day that celebrates Jesus being resurrected after dying on the cross for our sins, it is the day that we should consider asking for that forgiveness.  Let's break open the shell that confines us and keeps us hostage.  We need to do whatever we can to forgive ourselves and others and leave the errors of our past behind us and allow our souls to find healing. It is time to reach for that healing.  We yearn for it so let's finally free up some space for it.  We don't have to fill it with other, non-healing, toxic things that have caused these feelings that lead to nothing but self-destruction in the first place.  There is another side.  A different side where doors open and laughter is in the air and toxins are gone--whatever form of toxins they might be for you.  And once forgiveness is found, you suddenly know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.  

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Happy Easter, everyone.  My hope is that whatever this day does or does not mean to you, it brings about lasting forgiveness.

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