Let's start off with a little song to open up today's celebration...
...a little unconventional, but that's me...for me, He can be found in anywhere and in everything.
Everyone has their favorite holiday for their own reasons, I am no different. My favorite holiday has always been Easter – since I was a small girl waking up to hunt for my Easter basket that Peter Rabbit brought, to wearing my new Easter bonnet and pastel dress to Mass, to sitting down to a big family gathering to eat a lavish meal before the big Easter Egg Hunt – I always loved singing “Here Comes Peter Cotton Tail,” and the Easter season.
I embrace the day itself as a fresh start with its blossoming flowers heralding in the resurrection of the Good Lord after His horrific death. I never truly understood the meaning of the gift of His crucifixion, until I was in my late forties. When it clicked, the awakening happened deep within my soul, and it stuck, thank you Father Luis.
I have written about it before, but it is worth taking a second look with a new twist – the “how to” being my focus this year. What was the one thing or rather the message that Father Luis spoke of Easter Sunday 2011 – he stressed that we have to go beyond knowing that the death of the Son of God took place to forgive man’s sins, past, present, and future. That Sunday, this priest from a poor village across the Border, who most could not understand because of his thick Spanish accent, made a point to preach that no matter the details of the crucifixion or the chocolate treats that had become our focus; we were not receiving the true gift being given – FORGIVENESS, not for others, but for ourselves!
Father Luis explained that folks accepted on a biblical level the idea of forgiving others, but they failed time after time to realize that the gift must be first received and embraced by the self, before it can truly take hold and be applied to others. I immediately thought of the Second greatest commandment, Love thy neighbor as thyself. The idea and acceptance that God can forgive us is much easier for us to adopt for others than it is to give value to being worthy of one’s own forgiveness, after all is not that God’s prevue, to decide who is to be forgiven?
My, my, that silly over-analyzing human mind, so limiting. The only way that would work, is if God had made Christ’s death conditional; meaning that it only applied when he chose and Love thy neighbor as thyself read as Love thy neighbor only. He did not give up His child conditionally, and to live that idea is to be arrogant, to wear a badge of a self-imposed martyrdom, and to believe God as loving you – His own child – conditionally.
That day Father Luis was on a fiery passionate mission to open our hearts to receive forgiveness as a personal gift handed to each of us by God. To forgive our past errors, no matter the depth and width of each one; to forgive our present mistakes as lessons to be better; and our future waywardness as a reminder that He continues to embrace us with a love so massive that it extends beyond any known universe.
After years of conditioning of not being worthy based on Church doctrine, this priest was being bold in telling the congregation that each person sitting in the pew was indeed worthy of forgiving themselves. This is not a knock on the Catholic religion, because folks, the idea of having to earn forgiveness despite Jesus’ dying for our sins is unfortunately a universal downfall. Okay, if you are not a Christian, I am still betting that the idea of forgiving oneself is not a lesson instilled in a formal or informal religious setting. How can we begin to embrace that gift unconditionally? By starting at the start with being truthful with the one person that really knows the ins and outs of your wrongs – you.
The three golden Easter eggs, and a song…
SPRING CLEANING – FORGIVE THY NEIGHBOR AS YOU FORGIVE THYSELF
Let me paraphrase that second commandment, forgive thy neighbor as you forgive thyself, are you being honest with yourself about not needing to forgive yourself? Perfection is for sissies. Life is for those courageous enough to make mistakes, fall (sometimes to the bottom of the barrel), followed by getting up time and time again. We have all made mistakes, some minor and some major, so you are not alone.
For me the first step in forgiving myself was to accept that fact; not just say it – but write it down and sit with those words awhile. Sitting with it helped me dig deep as to why I feared being imperfect…
At this point if you need outside help, then go get it sister/brother, there are a lot of good people and great books that can help you get to forgiveness. Three of my favorites are Brendon Burchard’s Life’s Golden Ticket, Sonia Choquette’s Walking Home, and Nancy Levin’s Worthy.
…Taking time to be with my wrongs, gave me time to put them into perspective. Had I overblown a mistake? Had I not given a wrong enough credence for the pain it had caused? Was I overthinking a wrong in an effort to justify it?
This is not meant to be a session of beating yourself into a pulp; it’s meant to give you time to come to terms with the truth…He died for all your sins, so stop cherry picking the ones you have decided are too horrible to forgive.
I wrote out my list, well, as many as I was willing to handle each time I have needed to practice forgiving me; they were the ones that weighed down my heart the most. I would and do tackle others as I recall them, or slip, and a new one pops up. Once you have considered the wrong, then take a deep breath, and plunge into…
The magic of a gift is to receive fully, no conditions, no second guessing, and no but the other guy deserves it more than me. Remember forgiveness is infinitely omnipresent; there is plenty to around. Grab yours and move on. I say that knowing that it may take a few rounds of consideration, or a trip to seek professional help. I have done that too.
Look in that mirror and say, “I made a mistake. I own up to it; it’s time to forgive my humanness. Thank you God, for the gift of being so special that you gave your Son so that I could forgive myself and others.” Then follow that up with safely burning your list…let the Good Lord absorb them from your heart and mind.
Now, go hunt for those eggs!
The Aftermath of Easter…
On those days when you are not sure you can rise in peace with the deep knowing that you are loved and forgiven, listen to Chris Tomlin sing, I Will Rise. The first time I heard the song was at a Sun (Son) Rise Easter Service in an open pasture. My life has never been the same again, because I accepted that no matter what is happening in our world, my inner and outer world, or in my family’s or friends’ worlds, you are taken care of...doesn't even matter if you want it or if you have walked away from the true meaning of a love so great. It is yours for the taking. He gave His Only Son to forgive all man's sins, past-present-future; His love is so great for His children that he put no timeline of accepting. It endures. It is there whenever you are ready to receive...no one can take that away from you, from us. Forgiveness is a freedom that transcends all other freedoms...embrace forgiveness - give it to yourself and to others - give it freely for it is a never-ending gift.
Now for a little more traditional song, and my favorite song of the season, because it calls each of us to action...
I Will Rise
Christ Saving All of Mankind - Including you and me - Acceptance is your's to embrace.