“Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” (NKJV)
On this coming Sunday, crowds will flock to places of worship to honor the Christian tradition of Easter, believing Jesus died for your sins so you may have everlasting life.
Apparently, I have a very simple mind because even as a child, I did not understand that popular belief. If Jesus died on the cross for our sins, for all the ways we miss the mark from day to day, then why do churches continue to flog congregations with the idea of being a sinner? If we are still sinners, what did Jesus’s martyrdom accomplish? If Jesus died for our sins, then it is finished, is it not?
The label sinner takes you down. How much more alive, loving, and Christ-like you feel when you remember that you are a child of God made in his image and likeness. The association of being a child of God takes you higher. None of us is perfect, and we will make mistakes until the day we draw our last breath.
Personally, I believe that Jesus died to show us how to love like God wants us to love, and to show us that our spirits live forever. God’s spirit within us is who we are. You cannot destroy energy. It only changes form. Our spirits are eternal.
I find comfort in the metaphysical or practical application of Easter. The actions of Jesus exemplified God’s unconditional love and the assurance, conviction, optimism and possibility that you, too, can overcome the egocentric and salacious ways of the world. Jesus was born and died to give you hope, to show you that the Christ spirit lives within you forever. Since you will live forever, why not choose to go higher and higher rather than walk in the muck?
Times are tough right now. I suspect every one reading this blog knows someone who has been negatively affected by the greed, arrogance, egotism, and corruption of late. It has bought not only the United States but the world to its knees. We have been manipulated by the Judas code of ethics–lies, deceit, greed, self-justifications and self-denial.
Crucifixion is a horrendous form of death. Jesus was nailed to a cross, hanging there until he suffocated under his own weight. The Bible states he dropped three times. Many people today worked hard, saved money, thought they were investing wisely for their retirement only to find they lost their 401Ks, homes, vehicles and more to shrewd, unscrupulous people who seemed oblivious to what was right and honorable.
In other words, many feel they were harpooned by predators when they did nothing wrong. Does that sound like the biblical story of Easter? Yet, Jesus’ attitude was not evil-spirited but one of love and understanding. His first words uttered from the cross were, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). As you will read below, getting to that consciousness is essential if you want a resurrection. Nonetheless, wanting to understand, forgive, and let go of hurt and unfairness might feel like walking over the teeth of a saw until you are ready to shake it off. It’s an individual journey with no set time table.
But the practical message of Easter brings hope. It is your opportunity to let go of the old ways and launch a new beginning.
If you attended a worship service last Sunday, you probably received a palm leaf. In Rome palm leaves were a symbol of royalty. Wave that palm to remind yourself that you, too, are a child of God created from royalty made in his image and likeness with the potential to rise above the ways of the world. Let it symbolize that you have the potential to rise above those things that hurt others and yourself. In Christ you can become a new you and, thereby, model a better way for others.
Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days to prepare for his Easter journey. I would suggest that you take this day to explore which old ways you need to release so that you can have a deeply personal resurrection. Some of these old, tired ways may reside on an unconscious or subconscious level.
I would suggest that many people don’t feel “good enough” or they think there is something wrong with them. If pinned down, they can’t tell you why they aren’t good enough or why something is wrong with them because these false beliefs are insidiously hidden in the self-conscious and/or unconscious. But your behavior reflects the belief. Your life will continually play out a theme that you aren’t quite good enough or there is something wrong in your life, leaving you feeling there is something wrong with you. Finding the heart of those negative, core beliefs, then letting them go will raise you to amazing heights of well-being. This takes work and determination. Ask God to reveal what needs to be revealed.
About 15 years ago, a boss abused his power, making my life so utterly miserable, I quit a great paying job to escape the abuse. The daily emotional battering took a grave toll on my physical health and body. I carried resentment toward him for about five years. Then one day I grew tired of complaining about him. I wrote on a piece of paper “I release and let go of ____ and all the ways he harmed me.”
I burned the paper on my patio in Phoenix. Remarkably, my anger evaporated immediately. It was a miracle. I felt so powerful to be released from those negative thoughts. His power over me really did go up in a puff of smoke. Later what intrigued me was how silly it seemed to have spent so much time ruminating about this unfair situation. I was set free. It was a resurrection to be sure. Now if I think of that person for even one second, I shake it off immediately. Truthfully, I rarely ever think of him any more.
A couple weeks ago I realized how much and how long I had been holding on to deep resentment toward an individual and unfair situation(s) that took place in 2006. This person was in a profession where people automatically trusted him. He was “expected” to be trustworthy, yet, he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He exploited many people, including me, and their finances. After everyone was drained dry, he skipped away without taking any responsibility for any of it. There were no apologies for the bad decisions, harm and injustice committed against so many disheartened souls. No monies were paid back or returned.
I had been so intensely angry about this situation, I didn’t want to forgive it. When I would try to, it was just head talk, intellectualizing. As a result and without my cognizance, my trust and faith in God withered over the years. Why pray, I would think. What good does it do? Why ask God for help. He didn’t help in that exploitative situation. It was all phony. Maybe the whole idea of God is phony. I believed in phoniness.
Last week the link between this situation and my former boss hit me hard. I was holding the bitterness, thinking about the unfairness, feeling helpless that I could do nothing to make it right just as I did with my former boss.
Once again, I wrote a statement on a piece of paper, “I release and let go of my anger and bitterness toward ______ and this situation. It has no place in my present or my future. Here and now I shake it off” I placed the paper in a metal pail, lit a match and watched it burn, curling and twisting as if working out the impurities of the situation. When all the embers died, there was only fragile, lifeless, grayish ash in the bottom of the pail. I was again set free. It was a wonderful Easter resurrection for me this year. Hallelujah.
The next day interest in prayer and meditation returned. I found myself starting the day with spiritual readings to set a positive tone, something I had not done in about a year. I was regaining faith in God again. I started to believe that things could work out for good in several areas of my life.
Ironically, several days later I heard an update about this person. He had remarried and once again in a power position over others. My anger blazed, then smoldered in my heart. Momentarily, the human condition in me didn’t want him to be happy. It wasn’t fair. And I felt concern for this new flock of unsuspecting souls who would be manipulated for his own gain.
As clarity evolved, I realized I held a deep belief that those who hurt and exploit others through manipulation and lies should be held accountable, and if not accountable, they should never have the right to happiness again. Then I laughed. This was a test. Had I really released and let go of this person and situation? If so, why was I reacting? Was my resurrection nothing more than a cheap umbrella that blew out of shape with the smallest gust of wind?
I thought of the gray ashes in the pail and laughed again. My resurrection was not only real but now it contained clarity. You are only as happy as the person you become. You choose your values and act on them. My happiness is not dependent on you and your behavior, and your happiness is not dependent on me and my behavior. The choices others make are not my responsibility. Whatever someone else does, it’s my choice to wallow in the rot or let go and move on.
I think this point of ownership is made very clear in the movie Adaptation when the character Donald Kaufman (played by Nicholas Cage) says, “You are what you love, not what loves you.” At that moment I knew I had resurrected that situation. The news was nothing more than a puff of wind. I shook it off and was free again. This is truly a happy Easter.
Only God can give you 100% reassurance. Happiness comes from trusting Him and believing that He wants only good for you. The world is full of people who use and abuse others and act from a devil’s heart for whatever reason. All choices are based on free will. But God can turn evil into good so no destruction need be forever. Evil will always extinguish itself, but that is not for you to worry about. To rise above a situation, all you need to do is ask for your Creator’s help. That’s what I had done about three days before my epiphany and resurrection.
What is it in your life that is bringing you down? What anger, bitterness or resentment might you need to release to feel happy again? Who do you need to forgive? If you want to do better today than yesterday, as your Creator for help, then have faith that God will help you. Do you need to trust the Universe more right now?
Make this Easter a true daily double. Be grateful and appreciate Jesus for showing you the way, and at the same time, honor the Christ spirit within you that can rise above all difficulty. As you spring into Easter this weekend, make it a time to let go of old ways and launch a new beginning.
Happy Easter. Love and resurrections to all.