By BETSY BAILEY
I know it’s Mother’s Day, but I am stuck back at Easter. I’m always looking for teachable moments with Mari Wilton, my three-year-old daughter. She just happened to pick out a Bible storybook the other night that covered the Easter story. So what? It was easier to read it than to explain to her that we celebrated Easter six weeks ago.
Easter has always been one of those holidays where one goes through all kinds of emotions. On Friday we talk about and remember Jesus being crucified. Words like thorns, nails, betrayal, pierce, spit, etc. are used. We see images of darkness, evil, despair, dirt, blood, and hopelessness. It’s awful. Even in Mari Wilton’s Easter book, Jesus is shown sitting around the table with a bunch of friends who are going to turn on him in a very few hours. That is a hard concept for a three-year-old child.
Then flip a few pages and three days have passed. The illustrations in her book are all happy pictures. We see sunshine and smiles. The people look like they are freshly bathed, and everyone is BFF again. We see grace. Forgiveness. Hope. Promise. Faithfulness.
Mari Wilton is starting to understand compassion and love and feelings. We’re big on “feelings” at our house. I guess she comes by that honestly. She wants everyone to be “safe” and happy and okay. While we were reading the story she asked why Jesus looked so sad. I told her the people who had once been his friends were being mean to him and even trying to hurt him. She said “Awww. Jesus needs a hug and some chocolate eggs.” If only hugs and chocolate eggs could cure life’s hurts.
As I think about life these days I realize we are in an Easter-like situation all the time. Leave it to a kid’s book and illustrations to kind of bring three different stories and lessons together that I want Mari Wilton to understand and maybe write on her heart.
First, I wanted to make sure she was is never like the people in the pictures who were beating him and intentionally hurting him. I told her it wasn’t nice to want to see others hurt, or fail, or be sad. It is so easy in today’s world where we have lost sight of what is important that we will step on whoever is in our way for a promotion, or say something negative about someone we compete with in a business sense, manipulate something for our benefit, or repeat something in gossip that would tarnish someone’s reputation. I pointed to the stick peeps with some long hair throwing rocks at Jesus, and I said, “Don’t be like them. Be a fountain, not a drain.” Not that a three-year-old totally got it, but she said, ” I won’t. I’m going to get my hair cut and they don’t.” Clearly, I need to work on my communication skills.
I also wanted her to recognize and know that if she ever felt like Jesus in the picture where she needed chocolate eggs and hugs, forsaken or abandoned, alone—all of it was temporary. Friday was a bad day for Jesus, but Sunday the sun came out and He was alive again. (I think she brought up her dead fish and asked why her dad flushed him down the potty before he could be alive again—but at least her wheels are turning.)
Maybe you are in a dark place right now and your time on earth currently feels a lot like Good Friday, which wasn’t very “good” if you were Jesus. Hang in there. This is temporary. If you are a Believer, your Sunday is coming.
The third lesson was, well, the obvious. The Crucifixion, God’s sacrifice of his son in order to save Believers from the eternal consequences of sin, is the central tenet of Christianity. He suffers so we don’t have to. Right? And the resurrection—He came to give us everlasting life.
Most of the things here we fret about most rarely matter enough to tie ourselves in knots about. I want to teach my girls that, but if they look at me, am I really teaching them about eternity and what matters. Gulp.
So, don’t let Easter just be something you think about once a year while you wear a cute outfit and post family pics on Instagram.
Think of it on a daily basis. It should change everything about the way we live—and teach our children to live.
And if you were one of the illustrations in Mari Wilton’s Easter book, which one would you be?