Easter is now over; the eggs have been distributed, devoured, and forgotten about. Children are on Easter break, and, after months of homeschooling and a few weeks back in the schools, they are back home for a fortnight!
Correction. Easter is not over.
According to the church calendar, it goes on for 6 weeks, a season as they like to call it. It certainly beats the 12 days of Christmas. It is regarded as a season of plenty; when life is celebrated, joy is the theme. A far cry from the previous 6 weeks of lent, when the focus was on giving things up. Maybe you gave up chocolate, smoking, coffee, sweets. Perhaps you focused on improving yourself and so turning a more positive spin in the season of Lent.
Now you can go and eat all the chocolates! Eggs, bunnies, huge bars. According to the church calendar, I guess you can do this for the next 6 weeks! Having said that, we should still be reasonably sensible. Did you see the recent post showing how much sugar was in a creme egg? It’s just as well that it’s just a one-off treat. No wonder people fast on Good Friday, the makeup for the gorging on Sunday!
But let’s just pause there a moment. Easter weekend was 2 bank holidays (if you’re in England, indeed). The whole event of Jesus’ resurrection cannot have happened if He hadn’t been killed. (Please note that although this is not a religious blog, it is hard to cover the season without reference to its original purpose - shhh to the pagans reminding me that Easter is literally the name of the old goddess of Spring along with her hare!)
Good Friday hardly sounds like a good thing if Jesus was executed on that day. The ancient meaning of ‘Good’ comes from ‘Holy’, so in fact, it is Holy Friday. However, I also like to look at it as a good day, as Jesus made peace between God and mankind, so perhaps an early pun?
Both Easter celebrations are a bit like the wings on a bird, helping it fly gracefully through the sky. If Good Friday gives reconciliation and forgiveness with God, great. But it’s pointless having that if we just then go and die. Having resurrection, being able to live a new life is fabulous. However, it’s no good if you are still flawed, maybe in pain from a tumour, illness or condition that causes ongoing pain. Having the removal of those things, giving you peace, and then living again; now that’s what I like.
A Graceful Life
Stepping back from the rocky precipice of religious talk, our mental health can benefit from some of the ideas that this season highlights. Living a life free from the weight of despair, low mood, self-torture is undoubtedly something we all strive for. But before we can do this, there are always a few steps to take. The life we all dream of is a graceful life. Not like a ballerina, but one with freedom, gratitude, joy.
It’s easy for me to say, right? I can assure you, I’ve had to face my own Good Fridays. These steps are easier to talk about than to action. Just ask the man suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prepared to face His execution. The key to going from the dark despair to the graceful life is forgiveness. Not the profoundly theological concept bounded in religion.
Forgive yourself. Forgive others.
Both are equally difficult to do, and we hardly feel like it at times, or that people deserve it!
Napoleon Bonaparte’s army was strict with deserters and anyone AWOL. They were swiftly executed, no exception. Napoleon’s cook had a 17-year-old son in the army who ran away. Upon capture. The lad’s mum begged for mercy. Sticking to his guns, Napoleon said, ‘Woman, your son doesn’t deserve mercy.’ She replied, ‘Yes, of course, you’re right. He doesn’t deserve mercy. If he deserved it, it would no longer be mercy.’ Napoleon responded, “Well, then, I will have mercy.” And he spared the cook’s son.
The trouble with not forgiving is that we can only work or even exist at half capacity. We can waste half our time or energy going over things. This personal struggle often has made me go over the most mundane of errors I have made. Not for just a few minutes, or even hours. There have been times I been like this for days. This includes staying awake late at night going over the situation again and again.
It really is inane and something I fight to overcome. It’s essential to find ways to shut these thoughts down. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) courses have made an enormous difference to me.
You are good enough to forgive.
It’s the Others!
There is a fine line between correcting lousy behaviour and merely being upset over something that someone else has done.
Perhaps someone has done something that didn’t a
gree with your own sensitivities. Do you get angry? Do you shout at the
m? Maybe get aggressive? It’s a normal reaction, and there might be times that this feels justified. However, if you’re going to be the one in the right, BE in the right.
By shouting at someone or holding that grudge, you just make things worse. Maybe they have mental health issues that could have been an underlying cause of their action. Is your response appropriate? Or perhaps the person will feel like they now deserve to retaliate. It’s like looking in a mirror. As you raise your hand, the reflection’s hand lifts, and so on.
And besides, none of us is perfect. Let’s all give a little more grace. Let’s show more understanding to each other. There is too much ‘I deserve’ in the world. We ALL deserve a graceful life.
Onwards and Upwards
Some of this might have sounded deep and even challenging. I know for one that letting some things go can be a very real struggle. But for the next 6 weeks, just give it a go. Be open to forgiving yourself. Stop beating yourself up over the small things. And let other people off for the smaller things too. Put yourself in their position for a moment.
And then we can come back at the end of May and see how things have gone. I’m looking forward to giving it a go.