When You’re Not That Excited About Easter
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. Colossians 3:2 (ESV)
A couple years ago as Easter was quickly approaching, my daughter Kaitlyn asked me to take her shopping for Easter dresses, as we have done every year since both of my daughters were little.
We spent hours hopping from store to store looking for the perfect dress until she finally found the one she loved. As we were paying for our purchase, she looked at me and said “hey mom, aren’t you going to buy an Easter dress this year?” I responded, saying “I have lots of dresses. I don’t really need to spend money on a new one”, but the next sentence that rolled off my lips made my heart skip a beat.
I said, “Besides, I’m not that excited about Easter this year anyway.” She shrugged with a faint smile and said “oh, okay”, while giving me a little hug as we picked up our bags.
As I drove home, tears trickled down my face. What kind of mother would tell their child she wasn’t excited about Easter? How could I say I wasn’t enthusiastic about it, knowing it’s the celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God, for goodness sakes? What kind of Christian would say that?
I felt so ashamed for having such thoughts, much less speaking those thoughts aloud – to my precious child, no less. Have mercy on my soul. But in my defense, I knew that Easter was going to be incredibly different and hard. It would be the first Easter Sunday in twenty-six years where my family wouldn’t all be going to church together due to my husband and abruptly separating. My family felt broken, torn apart, not the same – and so did my heart. Instead of looking forward to the holiday for all the right reasons, I was secretly dreading it, knowing how emotionally difficult it was going to be to get through the day.
Not only did holidays look different through the lens of a broken heart and a broken family, but I thought differently about them, which caused me to feel differently too. Instead of focusing on the meaning of the resurrection season, my thoughts had been focused on my earthly problems instead.
That’s exactly why in Colossians 3:2, Paul encourages us to set our minds on the things above – on heavenly things – not all the things (or problems) in our world, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Whatever we set our minds on determines our thoughts, which drives our emotions, which fuels our words and actions, and at times, even determines the direction of our faith and our love for life. If our thoughts are sinking, our hearts and joy will be too.
But if we intentionally fix our attention on “the things that are above”, such as those things that make us feel joyful, hopeful and positive – like the resurrection of Jesus Christ, eternal life, the hope found in our Savior, our blessings – then our attitudes can be positive and uplifted, despite our circumstances.
God gave us free will to choose mind over matter, or let the matters of life control our minds, so the choice is ours. Unsinkable optimism, hope and faith hinge on where we choose to focus our thoughts, not on the things happening in our lives.
This brief conversation with Kaitlyn was a wake-up call. I didn’t realize the toll my thoughts and emotions were having on my outlook, much less my faith walk, until the second I had spoken those unfortunate words. Yes, life was hard in the moment, and certainly hadn’t turned out the way I had hoped. But I realized I didn’t have to let the hard things of life harden my heart. As I drove home from our shopping trip that day, I prayed all the way, asking God to restore my joy and peace, refocus my thinking patterns, and change my mind from the inside out.
We all experience hard seasons in life, but regardless of what we are facing this month, Jesus still died on the cross for our sins, was risen on the third day, and ascended to sit at the right hand of our Father on the throne. We are assured a beautiful future in heaven with Him, even when this life gets ugly. Those divine truths are reason enough to celebrate Easter with an overflowing heart of gratitude and praise, no matter what. And certainly enough reason to buy a new dress.
Lord, Draw my thoughts upward towards You every minute of every day, but especially during Easter when I should be focusing on You alone. Help me resist the temptation to focus on the negative and control my thoughts so they don’t sink my faith or joy. In Jesus name. Amen.
If you are having a hard time feeling happy and fulfilled because of a hard situation in your life right now, or if you too are feeling a little less than excited about Easter than usual, I’m confident my newest books will help you control your thoughts and emotions, reset your perspective and learn to love life again.