When I was checking out at the Waffle House Friday morning (don’t judge me) I asked my waitress if she had big Easter plans. She replied that she had forgotten it was Easter. It provided me with the opportunity to invite her to join us for worship on Sunday but also saddened me as I was reminded of how easy it is to miss life’s most significant moments.
Life provides an abundance of opportunities to laugh, cry, think, celebrate, grieve, remember and reflect. These opportunities often come in the form of holidays like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day and others, each significant in unique yet important ways. Each year is also full of birthdays and anniversaries of all sorts. When these important days slide right past, blessings are missed like unclaimed prizes.
Easter 2017 is now in the rear view mirror but what it represents doesn’t have to be. Who doesn’t need Easter’s message of new life, the defeat of evil, and personal and cosmic victory? Do you feel you may have missed some of what Easter had to offer? Do you want to position yourself to capture the next significant growth opportunity that comes your way. Here are three suggestions:
Trade busyness for fullness.
I think what my Waffle House waitress was saying was that in the busyness of life Easter snuck up on her. When I ask people the question, “How’s life?” the number one response I receive is “busy.” Give it a try. Ask 10 people that simple question and see how many respond by telling you how much is going on. Sometimes this may simply be a programmed response but the answer points to the chief thief of a meaningful life.
Don’t get me wrong; busyness is better than laziness (I think). I too have a lot to do and things I hope to accomplish each day. But I am trying to give a different answer to the “How’s life?” question these days. I’m replacing “I’m busy” with “Life is full.” Busyness informs others I have a lot going on; fullness says I have a high level of satisfaction. Busyness reflects a quantity of activity; fullness reflects quality. Busyness is often worn as a badge of honor and accomplishment. It may more accurately be a robe of robbery as it steals life’s fullness.
How does one move from busyness to fullness? Between work, school, kids, games, friends, exercise, travel, meals, reading, sleeping, writing, date night, church night, screen time, commuting through the ATL, and numerous other activities (are you tired just reading this incomplete list?) there can be little time for rest and reflection. While many of these activities are difficult to change there are likely some that could be eliminated to create a little space in your life. For those events and commitments that remain I suggest you change your approach. See them not as activities but as opportunities. Slow down and be fully present in each of these moments. Who is around you in these moments to connect with? What are they saying? Seek to listen rather than be heard. Give rather than take. Build in some margin so you don’t have to leave early or immediately run to the next item on your calendar.
This past week was Holy Week, the week of the Christian calendar between Palm Sunday and Easter. Much is written in the Bible about what happened during these very full days. We tried hard not to miss the opportunity to make this a time of fullness by having family communion, attending Good Friday and Easter Sunday services and spending an afternoon at SunTrust Field with the family (Go Braves!). There were other things that were not completed but as I sit here on Sunday evening I am thankful to feel emotionally and spiritually full.
Trade the facade for reality.
A second reason opportunities for growth are missed is pride. Before one can experience resurrection in a part of life he must first admit that area needs resurrecting. Many would rather project the facade that all is ok than admit the need for help. As a result resurrection never happens and the facade grows bigger.
There is a better way. This better way is to realize that every one of us has a story and some of the chapters in every story are messy and hurtful. While we cannot remove these undesirable chapters, we can renew them. Renewal and resurrection happen when we talk about the mess, admit mistakes, confide in trusted friends, commit to live differently, and tear down the destructive facade of pride and image we have built. As hard as this is to do, remember death is the path to resurrection. Easter Sunday was not possible without the horrifying event that happened two days earlier. As one preacher said in a famous Easter sermon, “It may seem like Friday night, but Sunday’s on the way!”
Trade the good for the best
My awesome down-the-street neighbors host an Easter egg hunt in their yard every year. They do an amazing job of creating a fun event for dozens of families. My church hosted an Easter Egg Drop with 40,000 eggs scattered across a football field. The event even had a helicopter fly over and drop some of the eggs. Incredible! I love events like these because they are good, wholesome fun that can point people toward the deeper meaning of this most significant day. There are a lot of things that are “good” about Easter - new clothes, church services, family get-togethers, lots of food, egg hunts, etc. But there is one thing that is best about Easter. Friday is more than good because sins were paid for on the cross. Sunday is best because it brings new, powerful, difference-making, everlasting life.
Which of these three trades do you need to make to position yourself for the next growth opportunity that comes your way?