Sunday, April 1, 2018

Celebrating Life

Happy Easter! Part of me wishes I was 10 or 11 years old again—awaking to the sight of a pink Easter basket, complete with a stuffed rabbit and a surplus of the artificial grass that urged my parents to the brink of insanity. It was always strewn about the room right as we needed to leave for the church. I still long to have one last holiday gathering at my grandmother's. My cousins and I would race for the golden egg, which concealed a small cash prize instead of candy. I usually won. After the wonder of the Easter bunny subsided, and the fun-filled egg hunt ended in victory, we would gather indoors for food and conversation.

Now there are undoubtedly differences in comparison to my previous Easter celebrations. I am no longer a child. There are no Easter egg hunts. My grandma has since passed away. I cannot indulge in my gluttonous cravings with the giant chocolate bunnies. Family gatherings are difficult, as I relocated to another state. I normally do not attend church due to my health...until I attempted a sunrise Easter church service for the first time in years.

Churches are not typically a conducive environment for patients with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome. The perfume and colognes that cause severe reactions are in abundance, as the rest of the congregation are representing their Sunday's best. However, Easter poses a special circumstance. The early sunrise services are conducted outside. That keeps the triggers from concentrating in a small area.

So, my parents and I found a local church hosting an Easter sunrise service. We set the alarm for 5 AM, dressed in our Easter attire, and hopped (pun intended) over to the church parking lot. The sermon was wonderful, but the service did not exactly align with my expectations.

I have been struggling emotionally. A number of tears have been shed over my lack of ability to go out in public. Despite being outside, the quarters were too close and I could not handle the scent triggers. I had to watch the service from the car. The whole deal was inimical to my current mental state and struck at my already fragile emotions regarding the isolation of my diagnosis.

While the preacher was preaching, I begrudgingly observed all of the people from my spot in the car. They were unaware of the physical, active presence they have been privileged. Many arrived to find no available seats. My view was mainly of those standing. I took notice of their elderly age, which only furthered my internal pity party. I knew that if I were to stand there, remaining upright for an extended period as they did would be an impossibility.

And then I snapped out of it, almost ashamed that my moment of self-absorbed egocentricism served as a distraction from worshipping our Savior. I turned a service intended for Him into something about me because a life of illness is not necessarily what I had in mind. Enduring it in isolation is even more contrasting to what I once envisioned, but the Easter service revolutionized my perspective.

I was reminded that the purpose of Easter is to celebrate life, not death. Although I am flushed, tremoring, and nauseated with a migraine as I type, this is the life I was given. I am not yet dead, contrary to how my symptoms often feel. My suffering is no greater than the pain Jesus experienced. He endured His trials on earth with grace knowing of the superior heavenly life to come. I should strive to do the same.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. - John 12:23-25, NIV
Jesus is alive. I am alive. Because of Him, I will live.

Like this post? Read What The Resurrection Means To The Chronically Ill