I got dressed quickly. Somehow, I had missed the sunrise in my attempt to wake up early. There wasn’t time for a shower, and touching up my blush and mascara was going to have to be good enough. Soft sounds of the cow/calf pairs mooing echoed through the canyon below our home. The sky was a gray that hangs low and presses down — without a beam of sunlight in sight. The blossoms on the trees outside the window were quiet as I went through the motions of getting ready.

I waited in the car for my parents. My heart felt heavy, and my eyes weren’t quite as sparkly as usual. I could feel tears, but none came. We rode the 25 minutes to town quietly because there wasn’t much to say. This life was not, and is not, what I thought it would be on a lot of different levels. Somehow, these skewed ideas of what life should look like fill my mind, and when it doesn’t match up to the silent expectations I have in my head, devastation and bits of depression fill my insides.

I say I trust, but do I? I write about faith and grace and love that comes easy, but having that kind of faith and love and grace on days like this one isn’t easy at all.

It’s Easter, and I hadn’t bought matching shirts for my boys, or any special candy. I hadn’t filled one basket, and there were no homemade rolls waiting to be warmed later in the day, or a yummy dessert to drool over. Somehow, this was a broken version of beautiful that I was having a hard time accepting. The day to celebrate the grace and freedom we have in Christ was heavy. I drove into town dreading the questions and looks.

“Where is the rest of your family?”

“Where are those beautiful boys you love so very much?”

“Why are you here without them?”

These are the questions people ask without saying a thing sometimes, and often ask without intending to hurt or pry. I practiced my smile in the mirror, and rehearsed the words and answers I would give.

The music started, and the voices of several of my beautiful and talented friends filled the room, the room where there was standing room only. Also the room I call home on most Sundays throughout the year. Notes played and voices were raised, filling the space I had found myself in. My eyes saw clearly for the first time that day as I looked up instead of all around.

Easter isn’t about families looking perfect. It isn’t about new clothes or baskets filled with treasures, although those are definite perks. Easter is about freedom and forgiveness, about an empty tomb, and about an amazing God who sent His Son to this world to die for each and every one of us. The stone had been rolled away, and I found myself standing in a sanctuary with my eyes lifted up and my heart filled.

I had made the right choice. I didn’t guilt my three “men” into fitting into something the world says they have to do or a scenario that I wish they would be a part of. I am not here to tell them how or what to believe. That morning, I had given them a choice, and they had chosen home as their sanctuary and place to find hope and peace. They chose that which they knew well, and I chose what I knew well, too.

I am a wife and mother who doesn’t cover much up. I don’t sugarcoat or paint pictures of things that don’t exist. And on that particular Easter, on one of the most beautiful days of the year, I sat in church with messed-up hair that hadn’t been washed, touched-up makeup, and a heart exploding with gratitude for the life I am able to live. I was with my parents that morning, and that was truly the most perfect way to spend that Easter morning. They’ve raised me well, and still are 40+ years later.

At 3:30 p.m. that very same day, no one had matching anything on and there still weren’t any plastic eggs filled. There was a ham baking in the roaster, and the potatoes were boiling on the stove top. The eggs had been eaten earlier that morning while I had been at church, and I hadn’t purchased any candy while shopping for rolls and strawberries. It wasn’t a “normal” Easter in any sort of way, but what is “normal” anyway?

Years have passed, and I continue to find myself trusting that the gray and rainy days — where I buy roses for myself and let my “guys” make their own choices — will be ones that I look back on with gratitude and fondness because those were in fact, the days where freedom was finally found and guilt vanished for good.

———

Lindsay Murdock lives and teaches in Echo.

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