Easter Hangover

It was the mid 90’s. I was driving someone else’s car down a main road in the city where I was living at the time. Dawn was just about to break the horizon when it occurred to me. It’s Easter morning. I had been up for several days with the help of stimulants in the form of pill and powder and was now starting the brutal decent down from my high. I usually didn’t know what day it was so I’m not sure how I remembered it was Easter.

This picture etched so vividly in my memory… As the sun peeked over the horizon and poured it’s light into my eyes, tears ran down my sunken cheeks. “Easter…I wonder what my family is doing? My mom has already called half a dozen people by now exclaiming, ‘HE IS RISEN!’ while waiting for their reply, ‘He has risen indeed’ and will be preparing for Sunday service and dinner afterwards.”

I was 18 years old. I would spend 8 more years in mental anguish and self-inflicted torment before I surrendered control of my life in the rooms of AA.

Last night I attended the Easter service at my church. It was the best service I have ever been a part of on this important Sunday in the history of our heritage. I was sitting on the back row of the balcony and could see everything going on. Different kinds of people from all walks of life flooded the auditorium. I had a stressful time getting myself and 3 children ready to attend and quite honestly, I just wanted to check off attendance, hear the same old “Easter message” and get home to my pajama pants.

God had other plans.

I sat behind a row of several children. During the music I glanced over to see an adult holding two of the little girls up. They were fully in the moment with hands lifted in praise to the giver of life. “They get it.” I thought to myself. “I want to get it like they do.”
Our hands are lifted highGod wasn’t stressed out about what I would wear to gather in this place. He didn’t care if I stuffed myself into my spanx. It didn’t matter if I had make-up on or my hair fixed. He just wanted me. He wanted me to recognize His goodness. He wanted me to bask in His grace. He wanted me to see, first hand, faith like a child.

For those of you reading who have given up trying to change someone you love who is lost in addiction. Good. You can’t. Only God can save us from ourselves. You never know what God will use to trigger the desire for Him.

To the parents who have a prodigal son or daughter…They have not forgotten the teachings of their childhood. God’s got thisLet Him have it.

To those of you going through hell…please hear me when I say that the “Christians” who are telling you that it’s impossible to be saved while acting the way you are, just haven’t experienced the kind of lost that has seemingly swallowed you. We do the best we can with what we have and that is what they are doing.

When it comes down to the core of the matter…it is between you and God, my friend. You. And. God. He has the final say and only He knows your heart. You may be acting a fool. I did for many years. You may think God has abandoned you like so many others have. May I encourage you with this truth. God is exactly where he has always been. Awaiting your return. He wants nothing more than to bless you and shape you into His purpose. He wants to love you, provide for you and protect you from the demons that haunt you.

I know this first hand. I have sat where you sit. Maybe not in the same circumstances, but desperatelongingsearchingbegging…for some shred of hope. There is hope. Today we celebrate this hope called Jesus. There is life. Today we celebrate this life in Jesus. There is salvation. Today we celebrate the Savior named Jesus. There is abounding love. Today we celebrate the purest form of love in Jesus. There is peace that passes all understanding. Today we celebrate that peace through Jesus.

Now you know. I am rather sold out to this carpenter who walked the earth for just over 30 years. He never wrote a book. He wasn’t overly attractive. He wasn’t wealthy and His crown was made of thorns, but you see, He redeemed me. What was lost is now found. What was broken is now whole. Blind eyes can now see. He took my armor of shame and replaced it with a cloak of grace. But I had to hand it to him. He was not going to strip it off of me. I had to remove it, piece by piece. It was heavy and restricting. Now…now I am free. It was more than worth the exchange. I couldn’t always see it in the moment, but looking back I wonder how I ever missed it.

My friend, journeying alone or as a companion through the desert. My prayer for you is that, in His perfect timing, God will reveal himself to you in a way so obvious and powerful that there is no denying His presence. My prayer for you is that you will come back home.

If you want/need somewhere to turn that is “come as you are” here are a few great resources.
Central Online (Their motto is, “It’s okay to not be okay.”)
Buckhead Church a division of North Point Community Church (This is my 2nd home)
People of the Second Chance (These are my people…scarred…broken and beautiful)

 

What is Easter? (in layman’s terms)

Ever drive by a church during the Easter season and see the cross that stands in front draped with a sash? I have always seen them in passing and thought, “Oh, I get it! Purple is before he died, Black for when he died and White for when he rose again. Flowers? New life? I guess? That’s cool.”

That was about as far as my thoughts went.

This year was different. I sought out a cross adorned with a sash. There were two that I really loved.

The pictures below document how I would describe Easter to someone who had never heard of it and knew nothing of it’s meaning. I have many friends who are not believers in Christ nor do they want to discuss what they think to be a fictitious fairy tale. Easter is no fairy tale. It’s a horror story of injustice and brutality with a twist and an ending that no one saw coming.

This is a way for me to make this super personal. Please do not read this as me comparing myself to Jesus. That is not the way it is intended.

PURPLE

Everyone was seemingly happy and supportive. There were high fives and praises being thrown around like they were nothing. Jesus could do no wrong. In fact, people lined the streets to see him. They even talked about how incredible he was. I would go so far as to say that they adored him. In my own life, I can compare this to when I’m the one with the credit card and open tab at the bar and yell, “DRINKS ON ME!” Everyone’s happy, right? There’s a lot of love being passed around.

BLACK

Something went wrong. People began to turn on Jesus and accuse him of things that he had never done. They yelled terrible things to the people in command. This is an example of words truly having the “power of life and death.” They demanded his demise. Those closest to him felt that all hope was lost.
Applying this to present day… This is when my credit card is declined and no one wants to talk to me anymore. The house lights come up and people begin accusing me of stealing, being promiscuous and talking about things I know nothing about. They slay my reputation with their words and judgements. This is when my mom says, “I don’t know what happened? She was such a “good” girl.” The world goes dark and I begin to think that I might never recover.

WHITE

Resurrection. Hope is not lost. The light of the world has not been snuffed out. Those people who were screaming, “Crucify him!” were now scrambling. How could this be? They weren’t counting on him actually being who he said he was. They weren’t counting on him actually going through with the plan.
For me, this one is all about God. I have absolutely nothing to do with this part. (SIDE NOTE: Today when I told my son that we needed to throw his shirt in the wash right away because he had spilled chocolate milk on it, he asked, “What’s a stain?” Without hesitation I replied, “It’s something that leaves a permanent mark.” Wait…what? That’s right. It’s something that leaves a permanent mark. I learn so much in conversations with my kids) I was stained. The marks were difficult to see in darkness, but when brought into the light, they were absolutely glaring.

Then God… met me where I was… in the depths. He scooped me up and didn’t promise me ease, he just promised me possible.

A new life began from that point.
I was dead in my sin.
Now I am alive in forgiveness and grace.

NEW LIFE

Today, my life, is a masterpiece.
The masterpiece began on the day I was born and will continue for the rest of my life.

I will never look at those crosses the same way again. How could I? Now it’s personal.