I have been procrastinating this post since Easter. I don’t honestly know how to write this without sounding all the kinds of religious crazy. It’s funny how much easier for me to share my spiritual struggle than to share this.
This Easter, God sent me a gift. The city we just moved to has concerts all the time, and it is so hard for me that I never have the time or the money for them. A couple of days before Easter, I got a notification that Hillsong United was giving a free concert for Easter.
Hillsong United is so special to me. Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) was the song I walked in to at my wedding and it is my comfort when the ocean feels too far away. Their music centers me and brings me hope, and you know how much I was struggling with hope this Holy Week. I was so touched that I immediately wrote to my husband begging that we go. Despite all the sacrifices it required of him, he agreed. (He ended up making a lot of sacrifices to get me to this concert, but it was so worth it-at least, I think so.)
We almost didn’t go. It was SO difficult trying to maneuver our schedules and plans for Easter and for Easter Mass around the concert, and then we got in a huge fight on the way, and got lost, and then couldn’t find parking. I was so determined though, I was praying my heart out. “God, I believe this was your Easter gift to me, get us there.”
Those of you who did not grow up Catholic probably know already what I found out pretty quickly, this was a service, not just a concert, but even though I was kind of freaking out about that(Catholics technically aren’t supposed to go to other religions services) I decided the concert part was worth it. I hadn’t’ been to praise and worship in far too long.
Let me tell you, we celebrated Easter in a way I have never seen before. The lyrics to the main song we sang were “Here I stand high in surrender, I need you now, take my heart, now and forever my soul cries out. Once I was broken, but you have my whole heart now, sin has no hold on me, and your grace holds me now.” The worship leaders talked over and over again about how through Christ’s Resurrection sin’s hold on our lives is destroyed. If He can be victorious over death, than He can win over anything else. A friend who is studying to be a pastor had told me these same things, and technically, the Church teaches the same thing, but hearing them this way, with the music, something just clicked.
I kept hearing Dave Ramsey talk about ending a family tree that is used to debt, and how “the sins of the father are visited on the son” no longer has to be true because of Jesus, and everything they were saying gave me so much hope, and simultaneously so much fear.
It sounds crazy to say hearing this brought fear, but hope is a dangerous and terrifying thing. If you believe in hope, you could end up humiliated and ashamed. Embarrassed for even thinking you were worth whatever awesome thing you have believed in. Hoping in a good God who wants to save you from anything He can is terrifying, because He won’t always save you. So there will be times where your hope looks absurd and ridiculous, and you just have to trust that there is something else going on. That’s easy to accept when you haven’t been through tragedy, but once you have, its incredibly difficult to accept that a good God who wants us to live abundantly would allow your child to die.
Over and over again throughout the service, the songs, the talks, everything, the theme was believing that God wants us to experience life and joy and love. That He wants us to let Him inn, and He has wonders in store for us. The Our Lady of Lourdes saying that haunts me echoed in the back of my mind trying to create fear and despair, “I cannot promise you happiness in this life, only in the next.” I’ve written before how this phrase has been a stumbling block for me over and over and over.
I struggled so much to maintain the hope that the concert had brought to me. I kept downplaying it because it was weird that we ended up in a service, or it was hard to get there. Even now though, I am replaying over and over in my mind the celebration, the absolute joy of living in a religion that believes in hope. The thing is, Catholics believe this too, but it is so rarely emphasized. So often we hear about offering our sufferings to Christ, and bearing our Crosses, and we have Crucifixes all over our homes, but we almost never mention the Resurrection(yes there are exceptions to this, but in my experience this is a pretty common issue.) We almost never mention the fact that the reason why the Crucifixion is not a sign of complete despair is that we had the Resurrection three days later. We are not a Crucifixion people, we do not believe that suffering is our glory, though many people treat it like it is. We believe that suffering is valuable, but only like pain is-because it does other things.
Since that concert, I have been making every effort to remember Christ’s victory, and that He wants us to have a Resurrection to every Cross. We are not meant to worship suffering for sufferings sake, though we are asked to make the best of it.
The pastors asked us, “What would you do if you believed that God had already won your most important battle?” and I have been letting that question inform my decisions. I entered Academy Nicholls because if I believe that God loves me and that He can conquer anything for me, and I believe He wants me to do film, then He can get me into filmmaking. I took a break on the night I needed to, because God would take care of the last little bit of money stress, and He did. I dedicate myself more intensely to my kids during the day and ask that God take care of my worries while I love on them.
So let me ask you, “What would you do?” And why don’t you go do it now, because He is there, and He is watching you, and supporting you like none other can or will. At least, I hope He is because I’m going to stake my life on it.