I remember as a little girl, putting on a bright colored dress and going to church with my grandparents. It was a small town Baptist church. We set on the third pew on the left side. I always got to put a dollar bill into the offering, I ate peppermints the whole service, and I played with this foldable Goldilocks and the Three Bears cloth house the whole service. We would eat a cake shaped like an egg afterwards and share a meal together. For years, that was the extent of my Easter knowledge.
As I got older, I began to navigate the whole church thing on my own. I’ll spare you those boring details, but I want to share with you some of the moments that make Easter count for me. I want to share why Easter is so significant in my life and much more than an occasion to dress nice, share a meal, and hunt eggs.
In high school, I was like any other high school girl: boy crazy, dying to fit in, insecure, and really disliked my parents. From those few little details, you can imagine the choices and decisions I made and how many of them weren’t very wise. I made mistakes I should have never even gotten close to making. I did things I never imagined I would do. I became the girl that I used to shame and talk about because I would NEVER be like them. I became a person I no longer recognized in the mirror: hurt, broken, lonely, confused, and desperate. Many of my bad choices came out of desperation, desperation to fit in, to be loved, to be something to someone. It ended with me being nothing to no one, not even myself. I was so ashamed of myself that I convinced myself to keep doing the things I was doing because to me, I was too far gone. I was too lost to waste the effort to save.
That’s the thing, I wore shame like it was rated the number one outfit in the People magazine. I carried shame with me for years longer than I ever should have. Shame is something that is so painful, yet so hard to let go of. Shame is like quick sand. At first you’re fully able to get out but the fear of sinking keeps you stuck, you slowly begin to give up and continue to sink until you really can’t move.
This is where Jesus comes in. Picture this, you were placed on the Earth to save a humanity that doesn’t deserve it. You live your whole life knowing that one day you’re going to die an excruciating death for people who won’t even acknowledge you exist. It’s crazy, BUT that’s how much God loves you and I. He sent His son to die on the cross for people who may not ever know Him, or who will know He exist but choose not to follow Him. That is heavy. That holds a lot of weight.
There is significance and weight in that action despite if you’ve ever done anything wrong or not. Shame controlled my life for probably 4-5 years. I allowed shame to dictate my every decision, my identity, my worth, and even the people I spent time around. When you’ve experienced shame in the way that I have, where it literally paralyzes you, what Jesus did on the cross because that much more significant. What Jesus did on that cross, over 2,000 years ago, barely able to breathe, fresh wounds all over his body, blood staining his skin, brought freedom from my shame. When Jesus died and rose again for my sin, my faults, my mistakes, and even my shame, I was set free. Even if Jesus only did that for me, it would have been enough, but He did it for every single person. He died for the people who were alive hundreds of years ago, those who are walking the Earth today, as well as our unborn children and their unborn children. He did it for every single one of us.
Jesus died and rose from the grave so that we wouldn’t have to walk in shame. Adam and Eve felt shame, that’s why they hid. God knew that shame existed and Jesus died to defeat it. Shame has no place after Jesus’ death. Our pastor said this on Palm Sunday, “If Easter isn’t personal than it means nothing.” I began to think, what is personal about Easter to me because I know it means something to me. I know it’s so much more than a holiday. But why? That’s it. That is what Easter means to me, that I am freed from my shame. My past no longer defines me. I don’t have to walk covered in my mistakes, but I can walk in the freedom of my future. Even when I make mistakes, I am made white as snow.
Time after countless time, He has forgiven me. He has renewed me. He has redeemed me. He will do it time and time again, because I mean that much to Him. That’s significant. Jesus’ death is just as powerful today as it was 2,000 years ago and it will be just as powerful tomorrow. I challenge you to take some time today and think about what does Easter mean to you? How can you make Easter personal? For me, it was that I am free from my shame.
I would love to hear about it, what your experience has been, and celebrate with you! You can feel free to share it in the comments or post about it on Instagram with the hashtag #MakeEasterPersonal and let’s share in how God’s grace, mercy, and love is communicated so uniquely for each of us and celebrate together!