Since today is April 1, it crossed my mind to invent an elaborate scheme, a story to fool you. Yet because it’s also Easter, that seemed a bit irreverent. It’s pretty rare that the two holidays fall together.
Today is a day of fools and jokes, but it’s also a day of resurrection and renewal. So I’ll start with some Easter groaners and end with resurrection:
How do you know the Easter Bunny is really smart?
Because he’s an egghead.
Where does the Easter Bunny get his eggs?
What happened to the Easter Bunny when he misbehaved at school?
He was egg-spelled!
Did you hear about the lady whose house was infested with Easter eggs?
She had to call an eggs-terminator!
What day does an Easter egg hate the most?
How do bunnies stay healthy?
What do you call a mischievous egg?
A practical yolker.
OK, enough Easter jokes.
Pranks on April First
As a kid I used to love April Fools’ Day. We used to get up early in the morning to trick the rest of the family — things like putting food dye inside the water faucets or plastic buckets of confetti over the doors. I have fond memories. I also loved Easter. I had a bright red sportcoat, and under it I’d wear my James Bond hidden holster (toy gun, of course). We would go to church with family, then gather at one of our grandparents’ homes with cousins. It was a blast.
To this day, even though the kids are 16, we’ll still hide Easter eggs and they’ll have a blast hunting for them. They still love these traditions.
Easter for many of us is a time when we’re together with friends and family, and, like Christmas or other family gatherings, there can sometimes be difficult moments or unresolved pain. Sometimes people hurt us so badly that we find time does not heal all wounds after all. Instead we cling to our stories, and never cut anyone a break for doing stupid things, being human, or making bad choices. So those hurts get carried from holiday to holiday, amplified, rarely healed, and sometimes we cheat ourselves out of those family moments because we don’t want to face those we believe hurt us. It’s called avoidance, and most of us have done it from time to time. I know I have.
A Lesson Finally Sank In
Sometimes it takes me decades to learn important lessons. Maybe I heard them and refused to listen, maybe I didn’t want to hear them or wasn’t ready, but this one finally sank in. Forgiveness isn’t about others. It’s about us.
When I Got Bullied
When I was in the 6th grade, I was severely bullied by a rotten kid I grew up around. I’m not sure why I was his target, but he did everything possible to annoy me and get me in trouble, and, because he often sat behind me, I got lots of things thrown at me. It got old, but I was not strong enough or did not have the courage to fight back. So I took it, got laughed at a lot, was often embarrassed, and could not wait till I got away from him. But he was behind me in 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade. It was four years of difficulty. I worried so much about it that I got ulcers. He would make such horrible threats, and, still having a young, immature brain, I believed him. Some days I pretended to be sick just to avoid school.
The Weight of Hate
I hate to admit it because I’m not a hate-filled guy, but I carried hatred for this kid well into my adult years. It ate away at me from time to time even as an adult. Seems silly now, yet we all tend to carry old stuff.
I had heard sermons about forgiveness, but this kid had hurt me so badly, had angered me and frightened me so much, that I could not let go of that anger, and it kept building inside.
Wisdom of Friends
Then one day it came up in a discussion with a friend, and he said two things that really hit home. First he said, “This kid bullied you for four years, and you are still giving him power over you for something that is only a fraction of your life. Don’t give him any more power. Let go.”
Look for the Motivation
Then he said, “When you look back on this as an adult, why do you think he did this?”
I thought about it and it came to me that maybe he was hurting, maybe he was being bullied, maybe his parents were abusive, maybe he was jealous of my happy family — or maybe he was just a rotten kid, but that had nothing to do with me and everything to do with him.
My friend told me I needed to stop being angry because anger eats away at you, actually changes your physiology, and by not forgiving that kid, I was hurting myself. I wasn’t forgiving him because I didn’t want to let go of my anger. I rarely thought of him, but I steamed every time that I did. And on Sundays, each time the preacher would ask “Is there someone you have not forgiven for something they did to you?” that kid’s name would come to mind.
When I forgave him, I felt a new peace, and healing of an old wound.
Caring Too Deeply?
I know a lot of us hold on to anger because we think we had bad parents who should have done things differently. Yet I guarantee you that most of those “bad” parents cared very deeply. The problem is they cared so deeply, they may have pushed too hard to protect you from the bad things they knew about that you had not discovered. Chances are they wanted better for you.
Most parents have good intentions, but maybe they had no role models, no examples of how to do it right. Maybe they didn’t have the benefit of education or understanding. Whatever it was, unless they were actively abusive, they probably meant well. Even those who do horrific things may have been passing it on because of horrific role models. Though it’s not an excuse, it helps us understand why.
Parenting is hard, and even if we try to give our kids an ideal life, chances are there will be something that bugs them. Someone got more attention, someone got a better Christmas gift. We have to understand that most parents do the best they know how.
And even if you had relatives or others who did terrible things to you, you can forgive them — and still write them out of your life. Remember, forgiveness is about YOUR inner peace.
Sometimes I’m Burning Mad
I don’t get mad very often, but sometimes someone really wrongs me and it really hurts me and makes me mad — hurt usually becomes anger. Things like finding people were sharing your darkest secrets behind your back, people gossiping, people lying, people ranting on social media about you when they’ve never even met you. I get so angry that I want to stay mad, but that’s only giving them power and hurting me.
Who comes to mind at this moment that you don’t want to forgive?
Who hurt you in some way that makes you just want to scream?
There is new life in letting go, in forgiveness.
If you were in a 12-step program like AA, they would tell you to call or meet and ask for forgiveness. I agree that can be the best step, and very cathartic. Yet you just need to close your eyes and forgive. Truly let go.
Though it can be helpful to try and understand why, it ultimately doesn’t matter. Some things cannot be explained. You just need to stop letting your past hold power over you and trigger anger in your heart. And you don’t have to visit or call the person who hurt you, especially if it doesn’t feel safe. You are doing this for yourself.
Today is celebrated because Christians believe that three days after his death, as predicted, Christ rose from the grave, proving that he had died for their sins.
Whether that appeals to you or not, there is personal resurrection, a change in your heart, when you let go of hurt and anger and forgive those you believe hurt you.
I Had No Idea
By the way, the person you are angry at might not even know. A few weeks ago an artist friend called me and told me I had said something that hurt him and made him feel bullied. I had no idea. Yet he had hung on to it for a year or more without saying anything because he did not want to make a big deal about it. Though I don’t know if he has forgiven me, I did ask for his forgiveness, and I think we healed our wounds. I cannot control anyone else and what they think, I can only create forgiveness in my own heart.
Anyone in Mind?
If anyone comes to mind who has angered you, who has wronged you knowingly or not, who has not always been the person you wanted them to be, you’ll never fully heal that wound until you forgive.
What if we all use today to heal, to ask forgiveness, to resurrect our families and our relationships, to reach out and, if nothing more, just let them know they are loved. Maybe then we can be silly fools together again like old times.
There is no need to bring up old stuff. Just go into a quiet space, close your eyes and think about where forgiveness is needed, and grant it. You’ll be doing something big for yourself, so that healing can occur.