Sunday, April 24, 2011

Celebrate or Contemplate?

Went to church this morning. We actually contemplated not going. Ray asked me, "So... we going to church tomorrow?" I looked at him and answered with a sigh, "Well, it is Easter."

Easter. It's a holiday, but to Christians it's kind of a big deal. Logically we'd attend service on the day people who don't even regularly attend church actually attend! But we actually had to think about it. Do we have it in ourselves to get up, get dressed {boycotting the Easter dress, however} and walk inside the walls of a place that usually makes us cry so much? Knowing we don't have our little boy to dress in a cute sweater-vest that still hangs in his closet clean and ready? Knowing we'll see other little boys and girls holding Easter eggs and wearing the cutest clothes picked out perfectly for them?

We went. Our favorite speaker was there and the music was fantastic. Nevermind that I couldn't sing the words because I was concentrating on holding back the floodgates. My mind was a bit like this during the entire service:

Jesus. Cross. Babies. Little boys in cute bowties. Sins. Forgiven. Risen. Easter eggs. Baskets. Andrew. Savior. The Christ. My son. My little boy. My little Andrew not here.

It's hard. Really, really hard. I was crying for most of the second half when I was finally able to knock out some of those sad thoughts about all the wonderful things we'd be doing if our son was with us today. We'd be walking to church while pushing our baby boy in his stroller-- him smiling, laughing... us smiling, laughing and actually happy. I've all but forgotten what that feels like to be genuinely happy and content.

Despite crying through most of today's message, it was one of the best Easter messages I've heard in my life-- out of all 28 of them. The speaker asked if we were there today to celebrate or contemplate. If we were there to celebrate the Risen Lord, or if we were there to contemplate our relationship with Him in our time of struggle. Knowing that many people visit churches on Easter to check the box for their 2 services a year, I'm used to similar messages on this day. Are you here as a "believer", or are you here because you are not and struggle today in finding that balance and relationship. But this message struck me differently. First, I believe you can have both at the same time. Who says you can't believe there is a God who loves you, but struggle with your relationship?

I both celebrate and contemplate. I celebrate the belief I have in Christ who has given his life for me eternally, and I contemplate the state of my being knowing that there is a Christ who loves me greatly and is indeed a source of comfort, but did not save my baby boy from death. I've come to the realization, or is it revelation, that it wasn't God's fault that Andrew died, but I still have a hard time being thankful for the rest of my life since the one thing that meant the most (aside from my husband) was taken. I have a ton to be thankful for, and therefore celebrate, but I have a gaping hole of sadness there reminding me that life can really suck.

The speaker told us about a church his friend pastors that ran an interesting campaign this Easter Sunday. They posted a space for those in the congregation/audience to write about their contemplations-- the messes they have in their lives. The areas in their lives that are causing them to contemplate rather than celebrate during this Easter season. For a few reasons I found this intriguing: I love the idea of raising awareness (reasons we shouldn't hide the reality of our babies dying from others to "save" them from sadness), opening up to support from others and allowing people to free themselves from internal sadness/frustrations. It's not good to keep all that inside. The project is called Beautiful Mess and it looks a bit like this:

He went on to speak about the messes people shared: adultery, divorce, Alzheimer's, hospitalized children (cue floodgates). They were open and unguarded because they did not have to attach their names to their mess. They were uninhibited. I loved that. It reminded me that others struggle and we are not alone in dealing with grief.

Needless to say, I cried during that portion of the service. Not only because he shared some of the messes people revealed through the website, but also because I have my own mess. For the first time in my 28 years, I would actually write something down in that box and hit that "submit" button. I have a mess. And because I have a mess, I am a mess. I would say that it is, however, a beautiful mess. Because of Andrew, I found that part of my heart that can love this much. He caused quite the mess-- quite the beautiful mess in my life.

While I'd love to turn the clock back in my life to a time when I felt genuine happiness, I'd never erase my son from our story. He's far too precious.

So today... on this Easter day... I celebrate the life of Christ and the life of my son for every day that he lived within me. I also contemplate as I remember this beautiful mess I'm living. Today and everyday. 


Molly said... [Reply to comment]

I'm so sorry you struggled today. I really anticipated feeling awful but actually found church to be peaceful today. I am just like you--definitely believe, but I contemplate as well (see post from two days ago when I didn't want go get out of bed or go to church on easter). We're also in a mess, albeit a beautiful one, for the first time, too. Thinking of you today and hoping you find some peace

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

I love this post. It makes me think of the lyrics to that song "Better than a Hallelujah," which someone told me about recently. "We pour out our miseries / God hears just a melody / Beautiful, the mess we are / The honest cries of breaking hearts / Are better than a Hallelujah."

I think you're right that contemplating and celebrating are equally valuable. I just hope we have a chance for more celebration in the days to come.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

This was a beautiful post.

Sassy said... [Reply to comment]

What a truly beautiful post.