It’s all in place- the wooden cross replica. The white tulips lining the stained glass church. The full choir dressed in their best pastels. But it doesn’t make it any easier.
This year, Easter is hard for me.
Sometimes the symbols that have represented this day for ages start to feel old. Sometimes it feels forced. I show up in one of the only dresses I have that’s not black and try to work up some remorse for the life I used to love so I can feel some joy over the freedom I’m suppose to have.
Sometimes it’s hard to get excited about the cross, the grave, and the Easter ham all over again.
As I counseled a cabin of girls at camp last May, I was asked to set a goal for myself over the summer. I remember writing that I wanted to “become a woman of faith”. A pretty obnoxiously ambitious and virtuous statement, looking back. But I wanted to become a person of faith, a person who defaulted to belief. Someone who’s core convictions held firm and true when questioned.
But months later, I still don’t feel like a woman of faith. Years into this Christianity thing, I still am not unshakable. I wake up and question the things I’m suppose to claim as truth. I show up on Easter Sunday with a spring dress and a heart full of guilt that I feel none of the right emotions.
Sometimes, hope is hard. Claiming victory can feel like an impossible task. Forcing this joy we sing on Easter Sunday to fit with the world we view on Monday feels in vain.
I don’t know how to hope against what I feel. Easter Sunday comes around again, brimming with a victory I can’t reconcile. Easter Sunday catches us off guard. Catches us cynical, or tired, or fearful. With empty hands and grieving hearts, with news of new bombings or new disasters in our little worlds and the world at large.
I can’t fit the victory into the brokenness I see and hear, the pain I feel. This happy, victorious faith in a good God just can’t fit with this hurting, broken, abusive and angry and dangerous and hateful world we stand on.
Maybe I’m thinking too much, but when they told me to make my faith my own, I took it seriously. And sometimes this faith won’t fit as my own. These emotions are not mine, not this Sunday. My faith these days looks a lot more like guilt over what I “should” be, than living in freedom and glory as I am.
All I have felt for a long time is guilt that the rest of the emotions feel empty. And maybe that’s faith- choosing hope when it doesn’t make sense.
But today it doesn’t make sense. So don’t tell me to feel love and thankfulness for this cross. Don’t tell me to feel joy for this grave. Don’t guilt me with the ways I don’t fit the celebrations of this day. Tell me what you believe is true, to fill in the holes of my own belief. Tell me that God loves me. Tell me He proved it on a cross. Tell me He won the victory, and still is, and still does. Tell of how you’ve experienced His love, victory freedom in real life. And pray for me to feel it too, and give me grace when I don’t. Because Easter isn’t easy.
But this is where I’m finding hope this Easter: The validity of our faith is not proved by our sincerity. The validity of our faith is proved by the object that our faith is placed in.
I’m not carrying my faith. I have nothing to prove. I can only hope that showing up with my questions, empty heart, and skepticism won’t screw this up. This Easter, the greatest hope I have is that the tomb remains empty and death remains defeated, whether I know how to believe it or not.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight.