Faith,  Parenting

Why I’m Opting Out of Easter Service

I still remember Easter morning of 2012. I often remember the bad moments more than the good. It’s something I’m trying to change, but this particular morning was SO disastrous that it still lingers in my mind two years later.

On that day, I somehow managed to get out of the house and to the church but not before fighting with my husband, spanking my daughter, and seething with frustration and discontentment. I happily abandoned took my daughter to her Sunday School class and then marched walked right back to my car and sobbed for the entire church service. Whoever wrote the lyrics “easy like Sunday morning” has clearly never attempted to go to church.

As you may have guessed, my house was clearly under the attack of Satan on that morning and I swore that I wouldn’t let it happen again. It was so bad that I went as far as putting this “appointment” on my calendar for 2013. Y’all it was BAD!

My journal entry for that day reads…

“I vow to NEVER try to go to church again on the seemingly religious-all-for-show Sundays.”

… and I was dead serious. Easter is a busy day with lots of expectations. On that infamous morning I was dealing with a basket of candy that my daughter can’t eat (dye sensitivities) and trying to get all of us looking photo ready because it’s Easter for goodness sake and preparing two casseroles for the big family get together that we were going to be late to because we had to go to church first. I don’t like to be late. I’m type A, without a doubt. The thought of going through all of that hoopla only to arrive at church and unable to find my seat because of the-only-show-up-for-Easter-service folks… well, it was just icing on the cake. Trust me, I know how selfish I sound. In typical Murphy’s Law fashion, I had a few kinks thrown into my plan and I was fit to be tied. You can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the Bama out of the girl. Basically, I had placed too many lofty expectations on the day that were neither holy nor obtainable. But I was determined, by god. Naturally, this was my first mistake. It all seems so clear, now.

I had to figure out a way to prevent this from happening again so, in 2013, I decided to opt out of Easter service. This went against everything I wanted. I love the Easter service at our church, which is unique because I’ve pretty much hated Easter Sunday services my whole life. Too much focus on the harsh reality of the crucifixion for my taste. But at TDF, they focus on the celebration of the risen Christ. Isn’t that what Easter is about anyway? It’s the amazing revelation that our Creator overcame DEATH and provided a way for us to be with Him in eternity. He made a way so that all of my mistakes are not only forgiven, but forgotten, and will be that way as long as I continue to make them. Which, let’s face it, I screw up on a daily basis even when I’m trying my best not to. Darn you sin nature. Grace, on the other hand, is a beautiful thing!

So, I was sad that I would be missing that little pep rally. I desperately wanted to just pray a hedge of protection around my family so that I could be a part of that celebration. Ultimately, it wasn’t just about getting to church. It was about solving all of the other expectations I had placed on the day. Therefore, I held firm to my decision to opt out and it was one of the better choices I’ve made in life.

My solution? I decided to bring “church” to me. I wanted to share the celebration of this special day with my family with no expectations and less hustling and bustling. So, last year, we woke up and snuggled in bed and opened Easter baskets (this time with carefully selected dye-free candies). Then we headed downstairs to worship in my daughter’s love language: Art & Music!

She and I had such a sweet time working on six craft stations and singing & dancing to the Contemporary Christian music station on Uverse. Then we were able to leisurely get ready for our big family get together. I had already made up my mind that we didn’t have to be picture perfect or wear fancy, new dresses which was also a relief on the budget and tLG who despises dresses. I didn’t have to stay up late the night before or wake at the crack of dawn to prepare my casseroles either. Besides, God doesn’t care if I worship in my pajamas. Bless Him! It was one of the best Easters I can remember. I only wish that I had thought of it sooner.

I can’t wait to do it again this year! Here is my Easter Pinterest board where I’m saving up new arts & crafts ideas for this Sunday. I’m particularly excited about this one.

I know that opting out of Easter service is potentially a controversial choice. I am so thankful for the many childcare volunteers, staff, choir members, greeters, AV team, and many more who make the choice to be there to share the celebration of our risen Savior with all who come. I’m even thankful for those who only come on this one Sunday and sit in my seat because they need Jesus too. It also provided me an opportunity to re-evaluate my motives, which were clearly in need of attention. Seriously, thank you!

Once upon a time my “word of the year” was SIMPLIFY. This holiday had gotten so out of control in my little world that it needed a major overhaul and simplification was the only way to solve the dilemma.

Maybe one day we will go back to church on Easter. Maybe one day I will be the childcare volunteer or the greeter for Easter service. But, for now, I love our new little tradition and am looking forward to celebrating Easter at home for a while.

I hope that you and your family have a meaningful Easter whether you choose the hustle & bustle route or the laid-back version. In the meantime, I’ll try not to envy those of you who have figured out the happy medium. For those of you who put on the front that you have it all together on Easter when your morning really looks like mine did 2 years ago, you have permission to opt out at any time.

Blessings to you!

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