What if Easter just Felt Empty?

I think events and holidays can often come with tag-along expectations that reality can never quite accommodate. The day after, that emptiness can feel like grief. I didn't do enough. I didn't make it magical. I didn't remember to enjoy it. I didn't….fill in the blank.

For me, I am so tired. We had a good spring break, but it wasn't restful. We came home late, then spent Easter day cleaning up our house and de-pollinating (is that even a word? It is now) our backyard so a few friends could come over to hunt eggs.

I didn't do a great job of selecting gifts for my kids' Easter baskets. They tried to act happy, but I could read disappointment, which was just enough to defeat me. This year has worn me out. As I have shared, this past month, in particular, has been frantic and intense, filled with so many painful crashes of 'no.' I have spent significant time with the Lord. However, most of it has been specific and situational because life came in fast and hot, and I constantly needed His guidance.

If I am honest, and why not be….Easter felt empty to me this year.

The day after, my temptation is to call it a loss and dive back into busyness. Thankfully, I am an unemployed therapist, so I realize that I need to be still and acknowledge that I am grieving many things. They are things that I let myself dream could be mine. In the lull after frantic and, in my case, disappointment, I need to give myself a chance just to be sad that some dreams apparently won't happen. Good thing He can handle my disappointment at unmet expectations better than I handled my kids' disappointment over the expectation of a better Easter basket. Bless my heart.

In the stillness on the morning after, I opened up scripture to read the Easter story slower: to try and fill up the hollowness that surrounded me yesterday. I settled into John's account. When Mary discovered the stone rolled away, she ran to get Peter and John. They raced to the tomb, frantic, I'm sure. They saw the empty grave then went back to where they were staying. But Mary…..Mary lingered in the emptiness of Easter morning and let herself grieve. She let herself be still in the sadness and the confusion of what appeared to be a huge 'no.'

And Jesus showed up.

He detoured between defeating death and hugging His Dad victorious to love on a brokenhearted girl. He stood separate from emptiness and let her in on the news that would change everything. He still shows up to exceed our expectations if we are willing to let them go. He will transform our grief if we bring it to Him. He will see my broken heart and speak my name—"Amanda: worthy of love. I see you. Don't cling to me just yet. It's not quite time. You have some critical things to do! Go! Tell people what you've seen, what is truth. You can't even begin to imagine what all I have in store for you. Let's leave those expectations in that empty tomb over there. We won't be needing any of it for what I have in mind."

Just like that, emptiness is seen as the place for gross, dead things. We can be united with eternal life. We can walk away from what we thought we wanted and be glad we didn't wind up in bondage with them. Be free to dream again of living a life that is bigger and more valuable than our expectations. Cast down the idol and follow the Risen King wherever He invites us to go. Thank you, Jesus, for letting compassion guide you to love broken hearts. Teach me to be more like You.

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