For most of my children’s lives Easter included the excitement of dying and hunting eggs and candy brought in the middle of the night by the Easter bunny.
Stories of Jesus were shared through books and at Church in Sunday school. But this year was about more. Much more.
Each of our grown children returned home and were under one roof, a rare and special gift. Though they are adults now, I still find joy in surprising them with a little bit of Easter fun. The morning began with each of our kids (including our son’s wife, Lauren) waking to discover our dining table set with small china plates holding fake grass, a small gift and a few plastic eggs nestled on top. The mood was light and the camaraderie endearing as we dressed for Church.
Piling into two white pick-up trucks, our entire crew caravanned to our church 30 minutes away. We filed into the sanctuary and filled a row of seats.
“When will you accept that death is real and when will you stop running to avoid it?” The beginning of the sermon left me shaking my head in agreement and affirming a truth I had confessed several times the week prior.
Trials and near death traumas within our family over a course of seven years had sent me running in the wrong direction of care-taking and false responsibility, trying to prevent pain and save lives. Shame messages from my childhood were loud in my head: “if only I would have done better and given more than maybe…. she would not have died, he would not be sick, they would not hurt so much.”
Tired of hiding my shame and carrying a heavy burden of fear I was led to leave my false ‘savior’ status at the cross. Forgiveness blessed and released a younger part of my heart from the false responsibility of saving myself and others from pain and death. It was permission giving to stand down from being ‘in charge’ and instead run into the arms of Jesus.
Vulnerability and confession felt like jumping off a cliff and free-falling into certain death; and certain death disappeared in the light and beauty of the gospel.
Easter morning, our pastor read scripture that brought deeper healing and affirmation into the spaces of my heart held captive by my worst fears:
“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Cor. 15:55-57 NIV
Our family returned home after Church to share a breakfast of Eggs Benedict, a loved Easter tradition. We finished eating and I received an unexpected Easter surprise of my own when my husband Victor requested we all gather in our den. He opened his notebook and his heart to share with our family, his voice speaking hope into the ruins of the trauma and pain we have experienced.
I sat amazed by grace as I listened to the guy I married over 25 years ago name truth and share Hope. Resurrection life poured into the cracks of our foundation as silence was broken.
I had the sense that in spite of my mistakes, successes and failures I and my family had been carried through death and led by love.
My desire to live life loving Jesus with my whole heart vulnerable and open to his presence has returned fiercer than before. Jesus delivered a death blow to my worst fears. “Death? “Where is your sting?” I know that whether I live or die, I belong to the Lord.
For this reason, I kneel before the Father from whom every family in Heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in our inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Eph. 3:14-18
Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 26 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.