As we move into Holy Week, starting this weekend with Palm Sunday right through to next weekend with Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning, I am sharing something I wrote a few Good Fridays ago. I am thankful that I captured this memory; it still touches me even though we’re moving into a different season with our kids. If you are in a time of your life right now where Easter feels like just another thing to get through, I pray that as you “pass by Jesus on the cross”, He makes an impact on you right where you are.
Let me set the scene for the following story: I was bone-tired. Between parenting a four year old and a two year old, we were facing a long and uncertain road with our three month old who was in the middle of treatments for a concerning and very rare genetic condition that had come as a surprise after she was born.
I felt like the billows were rolling in the sea of our life.
I was hanging on to Jesus with white knuckles and it was bringing me to my knees.
Yesterday my oldest daughter asked me, “Mama, you love Jesus?”
With tears in my eyes, I answered, “yes, I do love Jesus.”
And then I wept.
It had been a day already (if you know what I mean), and it was only 10am. We were sitting at the table with little yogurt cups, some strawberries and a bit of banana bread we had baked together the day before.
For almost the entire hour beforehand, we battled. And we were all exhausted.
As we ate, I responded to yet another question about Easter, explaining the good news for probably the sixth time this week. Daily questions about who Jesus is, why He died, why He rose, what it all means… Lord have mercy! I didn’t know you needed a theology degree to have kids!
That’s when she looked up across the table at me with those big blue eyes and said, “Mama, you love Jesus?”
It broke me. I nearly couldn’t pull myself back together. My middle girl said, “Mama, don’t cry! Are you crying?”
“Yes,” I said. “But not because I am sad. I am crying because I really do love Jesus very much.”
Easter usually turns out to be a very emotional season for me. It’s where the depth of my need meets the breadth of a love I cannot fathom, and that truth pierces my heart in unexpected moments where I see its transformative power in action.
The day continued on in its ups and downs late into the evening, with a few glimpses of glory. But most of it was made of moments that made me whisper, “Grace, Jesus. Your grace. Only Your grace today.”
The next morning, my body felt broken. I was up a couple of times in the night, and my eyes were puffy from crying tears of exhaustion.
Church? People? No thanks. Besides, we already did communion with the kids at the table this morning. Grape juice and homemade white bread.
But it was Good Friday. Part of my heart wanted to be at church, even though I knew I probably would not be able to sit through the service with the two youngest kids. So I swallowed my pride over feeling like I needed to look capable and we did it. And let’s face it, the truth shines through in all its radiance with three energetic kids 4 and under, a mom-ponytail and a baggy sweatshirt because my other jacket still doesn’t quite fit after having our latest cherub-cheeked girlie. I went solo because my husband had to work.
Walking into that church, I already knew I wouldn’t catch much of the Good Friday service.
But somewhere in the middle of cuddling a baby and entertaining a toddler with sniffles in a room on the side of the sanctuary, my heart was lifted by what I heard through the speaker piping in the message from the other room:
“Even those who passed by Jesus up on that cross were impacted by Him.”
Passing Him by. That’s exactly how it feels sometimes when you’re in the thick of raising tiny humans.
But I say this with certainty: even if you feel like you’re just passing by Jesus today, with all the things that life and seasons bring, He makes an impact on you.
I tried to take the two youngest into the sanctuary for communion, but the baby started fussing and our toddler chose that moment, that holy moment before communion, to start shouting, “NOOOO! I don’t WANT to whisper!”
So we headed back to the side room.
I may not have been able to get to the church communion table this morning, but He met me at the kitchen table.
In a place I did not expect.