2012-04-07 - The Power of Resurrection
In his book "The Holy Longing: The Search for A Christian Spirituality," Ronald Rolheiser talks about the various "deaths" we experience in our lives. These are losses that may or may not involve literal death. He compares them to Jesus' death and resurrection and the events that follow. He says, "We face many deaths within our lives, and the choice is ours as to whether those deaths will be terminal (snuffing out life and spirit) or whether they will be paschal (opening us to new life and new spirit). The paschal mystery is a process of transformation, within which we are given both new life and new spirit. It begins with suffering and death, moves on to the reception of new life, spends some time grieving the old and adjusting to the new, and finally, only after the old life has been truly let go of, is new spirit given for the life we are already living."
Reading this passage reminded me of an experience I had in April of 2009. It took place around Easter, but any of us can celebrate such an experience at any time. Here is part of what I wrote:
Easter Sunday. It was a beautiful day today. Very spring-like. To me, that is how Easter should be. It reminds me that we are putting winter behind us, and how Jesus passed from death into life, so each of us could do the same.
Easter has an added meaning to me this year, though. About a week ago, I finally did something I've been trying to find the courage to do since last August. I wrote a letter saying goodbye to someone who hurt and rejected me. It took a long time before I was ready to write this letter. For a while, I hoped he would change his mind and contact me. Eventually, I had to let go of that hope, and begin to accept the fact that he was gone for good, and that there would not be a relationship of any kind, not even as friends.
The letter I wrote was not something I wanted to send to the person who hurt me; I wrote it for myself. It was a symbolic gesture of letting go of the relationship, and of what I hoped it would be. It was about not staying stuck in the past, and rather, moving on with the reality of what my life is, without that person as a part of it.
I strongly relate to the feelings of rejection and betrayal Jesus must have experienced when He was crucified. Even as Jesus did, I have said, "Father forgive them. They don't know what they are doing." I have cried out in anguish, and yet have tried to submit to God's bigger purpose. I had to finally say, "It is finished." Now, let me be clear, I'm not anywhere near as surrendered or as holy as Jesus. My suffering is not the same as His. What He went through was far worse, and I am hesitant to even say I relate to parts of His death. What He voluntarily submitted to impacted the whole course of history and was the salvation of humanity. And He could have chosen not to do it! I didn't have a choice.
What I mean is that I relate to His human suffering and emotional pain. I do feel like part of me died when that relationship ended. It has been a dark sad time of grief. For a while, like after Jesus was crucified or like Jonah in the fish's belly, or Lazarus in the tomb, I felt as if I was in a dark hole or coffin or something similar. I felt like David hiding in a cave.
I view my saying goodbye letter as my getting up and walking out of a tomb emotionally. I'm paying my last respects to the relationship that ended. I'll never forget it or the person involved, but the relationship is over. That person is no longer a part of my life. Solomon said in the book of Ecclesiastes that there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven. I have mourned. Jesus is calling me to come out, now.
I think it's time to step out of the dark place and then roll the stone back. I can't do that while holding on to the past. I need to roll the stone in front of the tomb and close it. I survived emotionally and don't belong there anymore. There is a bigger plan for me, just as there was for Jesus. My story isn't over, just as Jesus' story wasn't over when He was crucified and buried. He went through something horrible, but there was more to the story. There was hope and a greater plan.
Easter celebrates the resurrection. I now celebrate a new beginning for me, too. I am still here. I have life and hope. That dark time could not completely break me. I will never be the same because of it, but I've put aside the grave clothes to focus on what is before me, rather than what lies behind me. My life is different from how I thought it would be, but I am confident that God will lead me. I know He is bringing healing into my heart. So this Easter, in addition to celebrating the death and resurrection of my Lord and Savior, I will walk out of the darkness of the tomb, into the sunlight and beauty of spring, with new hope for what God has in store for me.