Easter means something different to all of us. The Easter Sundays I remember from my childhood are full of fond memories. We celebrated every Easter with my grandparents in Gadsden, AL. They lived in a big, white Southern home with large columns in the front and a huge backyard complete with raised bed gardens, a clothesline, and plenty of azaleas. Granny probably spent hours making our Easter lunch. We always had the works—ham, deviled eggs, Grampa’s tossed green salad, a pear salad, rolls, and her famous mac-n-cheese! (She probably made peas or butter beans too, but as a kid, I was pretty strictly a ham/mac-n-cheese/roll/dessert gal. And there was no mayonnaise-cherry-cheese-pear salad for this girl!) After lunch, the leftovers would be put away and the dishes cleaned. Then, the annual egg hunt would commence!
During my younger years, Granny would boil and dye eggs for us to hunt. Inevitably, my brother and I wouldn’t be able to find one or two of the eggs, and two or three months later as the temperatures began to rise, the lovely scent of rotten eggs would show us where to find the missing eggs. In later years, my grandparents started using plastic eggs, and that’s when things got really serious. Then there was candy and even MONEY involved. It didn’t matter if it was one dollar, my brother and I were going to battle it out to try and get the most money and candy.
Now, let’s talk Easter clothes for just a moment. I had some FABULOUS frilly dresses as a toddler, down to the ruffled socks and the white patent leather Mary Jane’s. However, I think my favorite Easter outfit was in middle school circa 1989 or so. I wore a mint green two piece knit ensemble, featuring a tiered ruffled skirt and a wide peach elastic-waisted belt with peach Sam and Libby’s. #iykyk And let’s not forget the braces, glasses, and permed hair that I didn’t know how the heck to style. #bless
I knew why we celebrated Easter throughout all my childhood years, of course, and we went to church every Sunday, not just on Easter. So, I knew the Easter story. But the Easter basket, new outfit, and yummy food were more my focus during my younger years, not so much the Jesus-died-and-rose-from-the-grave part.
As an adult, Easter has taken on a different focus. When I started having children, I loved shopping for their Easter baskets and sewing their Easter outfits. I loved meditating on Easter devotions, worshiping at the Easter church services, and doing Easter crafts with my kids. It became less about me, and more about teaching them why we celebrate Easter.
But Easter took on an even deeper meaning when my marriage started falling apart around 2014. Being a single mom has made me look at things differently. I understand better now how alone Jesus must have felt in the Garden of Gethsemane. I know what it feels like to be betrayed by someone you love as Jesus was. Because of the comparatively tiny amount of suffering I’ve felt, I can relate to Jesus in a new way. I see His humanity. I know that He has truly felt all the same feelings that I’ve experienced. Because Jesus knew what it was like to be alone, He knew how I felt that first Easter when I didn’t have my kids—when I didn’t get to give them their Easter baskets first thing in the morning, or make sure their new clothes were laid out, or go to church with them, or do all our Easter traditions like resurrection rolls and resurrection eggs. Instead I went to church alone and cried through most of the service, but I was never fully alone. He was with me. I knew that Jesus empathized with my sorrow, because He was a man of many sorrows. He knew what it was like to be hurt by those He loved. He had compassion on me, His child, because He knew what it felt like. He KNEW. He still knows.
One thing I know for certain: Easter brings hope. The very concept of resurrection means new life. It gives us something to look TOWARD. Yes, the death of Christ and His resurrection means that we can have forgiveness and the hope of Heaven, but Easter gives me hope each day. Not only can I hope in an eternity with joy forevermore, but I have a Savior who understands my present hurts. Because He went through hard things too and made the ultimate sacrifice out of a great love for me, I know He gets it. And that, folks, is good news.