New Life: An Easter Pep Talk
Guest column by Lauree Stroud Purcell
Editor’s Note: Lauree Purcell is a freelance writer and mother of two teenagers in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
As I live out my 50th year, I am going through some exciting challenges that are stretching my thinking and helping me grow. My father passed away last year, so I’m helping my mother clear out the home where they raised me. Going through all the letters, papers, photographs, and all our accumulated possessions brings back both happy and sad memories. Mom and I have been having some painful discussions, but we are also having a lot of fun doing new things she wasn’t free to do when Dad was alive. We are going for long brisk walks, attending concerts and plays, and watching chick flicks.
The natural world coming back to life around us makes me smile with amazement and awe every year. We need to think about spring when we’re struggling with doubts and fears.
Now that my older daughter has left for college, I’m also trying to reestablish some sort of professional life for myself after many years as a homemaker. As I spend more time writing and making connections in the community, I’m encouraging my younger daughter to do more for herself. I’m still taking care of most of the home and pet maintenance, but I’m doing it in a much more condensed period of time as I add in meetings and work of my own. I’m trying to figure out how to still be as available as a helpful and supportive wife, mother, and daughter, and I worry about letting them down. But we’re going to work it all out for a better future for all of us.
Easter is a time when many of us think about God’s love and the Bible’s story of a man named Jesus who was brutally killed when he was just 33 years old. According to the Bible, God gave him a few more days on earth to have inspiring conversations with people before Jesus disappeared into the sky to be with God. Jesus wanted us to look beyond our self-obsession, anxiety, and guilt, to focus instead on loving each other through our actions. Jesus wanted us to understand the perfect love he felt from God and to do our part to live more fully and deeply as we give of ourselves to others.
No matter how much we were hurt by someone in the past, or the bad experiences we faced when life didn’t always take us in the happiest directions, we have the ability to see past that hurt to a lightness and love greater than our ordinary physical reality. The Bible uses many images to describe it and inspire us. There is the time when the Holy Spirit passes over groups of people and they suddenly understand each other completely. There are the angels who tell Jesus’ followers to stop grieving and instead feel joy because Jesus is showing us something more important than our earthly cares. There is the bright daylight that comes with the discovery of the empty tomb.
Easter is a time for us to nudge ourselves out of our funk and to get busy finding solutions to our many challenges and providing the consistent loving, guiding hands those around us need. For if we don’t let God work through us, through whom will God work? Sometimes it might be the person who hurts us the most who will be most in need of our understanding and care. We can be inspired by Jesus’ disciples, who dedicated their lives to teaching others a better way to live even after they watched their best friend and leader be tortured and murdered. They were willing to risk their own lives and to face great suffering to make sure future generations followed the new path Jesus had taught them. They felt loved and valued by God and wanted everyone to care for each other in the same way.
On a bright spring morning when flowers are starting to bloom and new leaves are forming on the trees, I think of the Easter story of Jesus overcoming death and appreciate the miracle of all the natural world coming back to life around us. It makes me smile with amazement and awe every year. We need to think about spring when we’re struggling with doubts and fears. For there is almost always a way to find help and make new decisions that will lead us out of our times of darkness. Almost all of us face disappointment or betrayal at some point in our lives, but Jesus commanded us to love one another.
We can choose to grow beyond our pain and provide the unconditional love we crave while our friends and family are still with us—sharing our temporary, mortal experience.
For a free gospel of John in a contemporary version, write to MelodieD@MennoMedia.org or Another Way, 1251 Virginia Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22802.