The Easter season is upon us, and whereas I normally don't dedicate posts to current events or specific holidays (I like to be one-note like that), I found that this particular holiday has collided quite dramatically with my Mommyhood experience. Perhaps some of you out there will even be able to relate.
When Cameron and Taylor came to live with us (we just celebrated out 3-year mark last week, can you believe it?), they knew very little about God, Jesus, church, or even what a Bible is. Needless to say, Sundays were just another day to sleep in, Christmas was about Santa, and Easter was about the cavity-inducing Easter Bunny. It's been a slow process, but my family and I have done our best to incorporate the meaning of Christ not just into our holidays, but into our daily lives.
Despite our best efforts, we often find that the children have developed some sort of holiday-related amnesia causing them to lose sight of the reasons we celebrate religious holidays throughout the year. This week it became very clear that my children as still suffering from this tragic disease.
On Monday, Taylor and Cameron were both sitting at the kitchen table. Taylor was coloring and Cameron was criticizing her coloring. I told him to find a better hobby, but he seemed to be enjoying his current activity a bit too much. Taylor looked up from the page she was on and said to me, "Mom? I'm trying to make an Easter drawing and I can't think of anything to put on the page.."
"Well, what do you have already?" I answered.
"I drew a bunny and some eggs and a lot of candy, but I just can't think of anything else to draw...."
"Those things are great, Tay, but why don't you draw a cross and a picture of Jesus?"
She wrinkled her nose at me and shrugged her shoulders. "Why would I draw those things?"
My mind flashed back to the previous year when I took the children to a Good Friday dramatization of Jesus' trial and crucifixion. Both kids had been moved to tears and Taylor especially found the event to be very personal. She spent months talking about what she had seen and would often express gratitude to God for sending Jesus to die for our sins.
So, I tried to prompt the conversation a bit more. "Taylor, do you remember why we celebrate Easter?"
"Yeah, because of the Easter Bunny."
For the record, I am not slamming the rabbit in any way, but he/she has literally never been part of our Easter celebration! I decided to push a little farther.
"Taylor, what's the real reason that we celebrate Easter? It's the day that Jesus..... what?"
"No, that's Christmas. It's the day that Jesus rose from the dead. Remember? He died on Good Friday for our sins and then He rose from the dead on Easter Sunday. We celebrate salvation this holiday, not just the excitement of baskets and candy."
She all of a sudden looked very concerned. "Oh yeah. I forgot. I hate this holiday."
Cameron took this moment to chime in. "Yeah, I hate it, too.... except for the egg hunt."
Thoughts began smacking me in the brain at full speed. I'm a terrible mother for not reminding my children of the true meaning of Easter all year long. My kids just said they hate Easter, what the heck do I do now? Who HATES Easter?? Me and this bunny are gonna have some words....
"Ok, guys. Seriously. I have to know. Why do you both hate Easter??"
Taylor was the one to respond. "Mom, it's just too sad. I don't like to think about Jesus dying all the time. Especially because it's my fault that he had to die anyway. I just want to think about the happy bunny instead."
An all-too-familiar ping went off in my heart just then. Because how often do we do the same thing? When something painful occurs in life, isn't it just easier to ignore it and focus on a fluffy, shallow, insignificant replacement instead? Why watch a documentary on martyrdom when you can rent a Will Ferrell movie? Why work on self-improvement when you can ignore your flaws and go play? Why remember Christ's sacrifice for your sins and your need for a Savior when you can eat candy and pretend that his death didn't happen?
Don't get me wrong.... I love Will Ferrell. And playing. And jelly beans, for crying out loud! I believe that God gave us so many ways to enjoy life that he wants us to laugh and have fun and not walk around carrying our own crosses, per say, day in and day out. But there is such truth in facing the reality that we are sinful. Even at an early age, recognizing that we have not, will not, and CANNOT save ourselves is so powerful. We don't celebrate Easter to be sad about Christ's death or the fact that He came to such a painful end on this earth because of our wrong-doings....
We celebrate Easter to remember that our salvation wasn't cheap, it wasn't easy. Our salvation was bought with blood and tears and most importantly, with love. To leave out the tragedy of Christ's death is to ignore the beauty of His resurrection and the amazing grace that he washed us with.
In my own life, I sometimes like to look for the Easter Bunny. There are moments when there is just too much sadness. Too much pain. It's nice to be distracted by the less significant things of life. But in the end, I only know joy because I have allowed myself to face the pain. Without acknowledging the lows of this life, I would never fully appreciate the blessings and the love and the precious things that have been given to an undeserving Me.
It's a fine line to walk. But I do hope that as you spend this holiday season with your children, that you don't try to water-down or sugar-coat the Gospel for them. Use wisdom, of course! (The last thing I want are angry posts of children with nightmares or developing PTSD due to my recommendations!!) However, remind your little ones that we are all the reason that Christ died. That we are all the reason that He rose. And that we can offer this precious story of redemptive love to all those that we meet.
And give them jelly beans. Lots and lots of jelly beans.