The bottom of that pit stank. It felt cold, slimy, and uninhabitable. I’ll never forget the day I realized I didn’t have to stay there.
Easter truths bring freedom.
As I revisited that memory several times over the next few months, God reassured me that his plan always brought freedom and good. Isaiah 38:16,17 (New Living Translation) says
Lord, your discipline is good,
for it leads to life and health.
You restore my health
and allow me to live!
Yes, this anguish was good for me,
for you have rescued me from death
and forgiven all my sins.
In those initial steps out of the pit, I discovered Easter is more than a time for cute bunnies and chicks, eggs, candy, and scavenger hunts. Because Jesus died on the cross (a horrible, cruel, excruciating death), he provided the way back to intimacy with God the Father, which is what we crave. I would recover by running straight to God and throwing myself on his grace and mercy.
These three Easter truths bring hope for recovery by teaching us how to:
1. Forgive because we’re forgiven.
What do you feel when someone forgives you and reaches toward you after you’ve betrayed them? Relief? Peace? Emotional freedom? When I realized that my forgiveness by God extended beyond mental assent, I exhaled utterly. Relief and tears flowed with words of gratitude. God did forgive me for everything. How amazing. Then I understood that my forgiveness opened the path to forgiving my husband and others who’d hurt and betrayed me.
My counselor walked me through a forgiveness exercise. It involved a large piece of paper, a pencil, and drawing eggs. 🙂 Each egg represented a wound. I drew them as large as I desired. Then we discussed each egg, and I verbally forgave each person, choosing to release the pent-up pain. By the end of this exercise, I felt lighter and free.
2. Receive grace and extend it.
No one lives perfectly. Does that smack you as it did me? Perfection is an illusion. Only God remains perfect. We look at models, commercials, and even Amish quilts and think we see flawless creations. Not so. Airbrushing, editing, and ripped-out stitches prove nothing is perfect. Yet we cling to the perfection illusion, which brings pain with each blown expectation.
Grace allows you and me to be human and loved. I’m so thankful for God’s grace. Understanding the freedom found in grace, you can accept yourself and others’ flaws and quirks. If everyone were perfect, comedians would struggle to find content. We’d laugh less, and life would be boring. Everyone would do precisely what you thought they’d do. No surprises and mishaps to make life enjoyable. Grace allows you to anticipate each day without fear of messing up. And you find the freedom to extend grace to others because you live in it daily.
3. Love unconditionally.
Jesus told us that we get to love others because God has first loved us. We don’t need to fear punishment any longer. I remember the first time I truly understood that God completely forgave me because of Jesus. Overwhelmed with how many things I’d done wrong in one day, I read these verses and felt nothing but shame. But in my journaling, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me my feelings of shame didn’t come from God. Satan condemns; God corrects. He desires to restore my relationship with him. Satan delights in driving me deeper into shame, so I shrink back from God.
Recently, I talked with Dave about a poor, thoughtless choice. While my tears flowed and I choked on my shame, he reminded me that God my father loves me. He knows my flaws but loves me anyway. Through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, I can stand before God, fully loved. And, by accepting God’s love and forgiveness, I learn and move forward. I am not condemned or rejected. Nothing I do or say changes God’s love for me. I need to believe it and walk in it.
Where do you struggle to live these truths?
Read through these verses. What do you learn about God’s forgiveness, grace, and love? Grab your journal and jot down your thoughts.
The Bible reveals God’s love, grace, and forgiveness from cover to cover.
It’s his redemptive story from before time. We celebrate Easter to remember that, though we were dead and condemned, Jesus Christ willingly sacrificed himself to pay the penalty for our sin. Once and for all. His words, “It is finished,” echo from the cross to you and me. Done. Nothing for us to do but accept his gift. No strings attached.
Easter shows you are forgiven and loved through God’s grace.
An intimate relationship with God allows you and me to extend forgiveness, grace, and love to others. Betrayal by your spouse rocks your world. Only through understanding the eternal impact of Easter can you recover your equilibrium.
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!”
Once you have seen Jesus Christ, you find freedom. This Easter, may you encounter and see Jesus intimately.
If you aren’t sure how to do this, please reach out. I promise to hear your pain, understand your confusion, and point you to the only one who provides every answer you need.