Christmas always seems to get a lot more attention and hype because, c'mon, it's Christmas! Scott is all about Christmas in our house (obviously), but when I think about my favorite "religious traditions" and beliefs they all center around Easter. And for me, Easter begins with Lent. This year I dropped the ball, but for the past 6 years I've always found something to give up for Lent. I am not Catholic and we don't celebrate the Lenten season in the LDS Church. But I've kind of adopted it for myself because I love the idea of a long, protracted experience of sacrificing something I love, use, or do every year as a way to remind myself of Christ. Some years it's been something personal and intimate, other times it's been more of an outward experience and it's completely changed some part of my life. For example, I used to be a *total* celebrity gossip junkie. I read it ALL and was a major consumer - and it felt kind of pathetic to say to myself, "I'm giving up Perez Hilton, TMZ, Radar Online, etc." And you know what? IT WAS REALLY HARD! In fact, it was *much harder* than it should have been. By the time Easter rolled around, though, I noticed a slight change in the way I was looking and thinking about myself. Getting rid of the constant comparisons was having a real effect on me and I was surprised to realize just how much I internalized those messages. In the 3 years since I stopped, I think I've looked twice at a gossip site and both times I was happy to see just how much I didn't care and I never bothered to even click on the stories. Again, this is something small and maybe insignificant, but it was amazing how much it really meant to me.
Maybe the reason I'm so cognizant of this season is because our church doesn't celebrate Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, or Good Friday. I love how Christ-centered all of these experiences are and how they focus completely on Jesus. Since I have to actively think about observing these dates, they tend to stick out in my mind. Do I attend services at another church on these days? No. But do I make a point of reading about why these dates are celebrated and what form of worship takes place on them? Absolutely. I wonder if it's because I look at the life of Christ and at the completion of the Easter narrative I see the greatest happy ending of all time - that Christ is risen and he lives. Yes, there is so much pain and suffering, but there's an equal amount of joy and love. When I think about Easter I just want to shout, "YES! CHRIST LOVES ME TOO!" and my heart is tight in my chest and I feel like it might explode because I feel that love and that joy and I want to let it all out and show my kids just how much those feelings permeate my soul.
I love the hope that Easter brings - I love that it's on the cusp of spring this year and that it coincides with the blooming of my crocuses and the slowly greening world. There's also a promise of More - that there's more to come in this life and after - that there's more TO life than the day to day drudgery that I sometimes feel - that there's MORE that I don't understand but can and will understand one day. I love that this year I'm thinking these thoughts and I keep getting distracted by Wyatt's strong (and constant) kicking. And instead of thinking about how uncomfortable it is or how much I want him to fall asleep, I can't help but be excited for LIFE. For his life, for my children's lives, for MY life. All of this joy, happiness and hope comes from the love that God has for me and for the proof of that love, given by his Son.
My heart is full right now and I feel peace. I know that God loves me and I feel His joy in my life right now. Regardless of what else is happening in my life right now, I know that there is hope and love in my future. And for that, I am forever thankful.