April 05, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
May Your Easter Joy Be Solid This YearGrowing up in my family,† Easter morning was almost as big as Christmas morning.† My parents went all-out, with extra large Easter baskets and gifts.† I still remember the Willie Mays baseball glove I received when I was nine or ten, and breaking it in by playing catch with my Dad before we went to church.† The candy in the basket was overflowing, mostly marshmallow Peeps and jelly beans.† In the middle of the basket though was what I desired most - a large chocolate bunny.† In my youth it seemed two feet tall.†† Every year I would lift the chocolate bunny out of the basket and bite off the ear† to make the most important determination of all: was the bunny hollow or solid?† I was never disappointed--the bunny was always solid. †
†††† Hollow or solid; that is the question this Easter.† I am not talking about chocolate bunnies now, but rather about the experience of joy, the experience of new life that is promised to us in spring.† What will your experience be this year?† Will it be hollow or will it be solid? †
†††††† A friend of mine said yesterday that this year it just doesn't feel like Easter for him.† He attributed it to the weather, given that's it's been in the 30's and low 40's for much of the last two weeks in Wisconsin.† I was able to agree with him about the weather, but because I know this friend pretty well I went a little farther.† We talked about how Easter represents the joy of new life and new beginnings, and given his recent job loss and the stress he was experiencing in his marriage, he probably was not feeling much joy in his life these days.†† After much discussion he agreed, and went on to say that he would just be going through the motions for Easter this year.† Easter, like his life, feels a little hollow right now.
†††† Part of the struggle my friend is having, and maybe one all of us have to some degree, is that we associate the experience of Easter with how we already feel in our lives.† I see many people taking this same approach in their family life as well.† "I just don't feel close to my spouse/parent/child any more" is a complaint I often hear in my counseling office.† To rely solely on one's feelings regarding the most significant experiences in our lives, whether our relationships or our faith, will often leave us feeling hollow.
†††† Let me suggest a more solid way to approach Easter, as well as our relationships.† One of things I say to my clients the most is that "love is not just a feeling, it is primarily a decision."† Love is a decision, an act of the will, an act of commitment.† The feelings of love will ebb and flow in every human relationship.† That's when "love as a decision" carries us through, creating a future where the feelings will return.† This approach to love is more solid, much less brittle, and much more satisfying.
†††† Easter is a decision as well, and not just a feeling.† First of all, it is a decision and a promise from God that death, suffering and hard times are never the end of story.† These things are an all too real part of our lives, but Easter is God's promise to continuously bring new beginnings and new life out of our darkest times, to bring healing to any loss or hurt we are experiencing. †
†††† Easter is our decision as well.† We can choose to believe in it, even when we are not feeling it.† We can choose to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and open our hearts and souls to the healing and restoring power of God's love, especially when we need it most.† The hollow approach to Easter, as well as to family life,† is "I'll believe in it when I feel it."† The solid approach, the one that brings true joy throughout the year is, "I'll feel it when I believe it."† †
†††† May your Easter joy, and your chocolate bunnies, be solid this year.
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