Love is a tricky thing. We crave it, need it, want it, give it—yet it can leave us feeling desperate, alone, and broken. It’s not a thing of pink hearts and roses, but of sacrifice and hard, dedicated work. It’s a powerful, lifechanging, heart-rending verb.
The seasons of Lent and Easter were unique for me this year. Instead of giving something up, I wanted to let something go. Those are similar statements, but I believe they’re distinct, because one is giving up a physical comfort as a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice, and the other is letting go of some kind of control that God should have in our lives. Letting go was an interesting journey that caused me to think quite a lot about the tricky thing of love.
Part of letting go of control was committing to attending a class at church about the final week of Jesus’ life, each Wednesday of Lent. I learned some fresh (though historical) insights into Jesus’ journey to the cross, and even began to imagine him differently than I had before. Instead of a long-haired, downcast man, quietly ambling into town on a humble donkey, I began to understand him as a nonviolent protester, a guy out to raise awareness and cause just the right kind of fuss.
When he died, Jesus was the same age or younger than many of my friends are now, people I cherish, respect, and admire. That realization caused me to wonder what it would be like if one of those dear friends of mine—peers, advocates for causes in which I believe—were betrayed by a member of our community and arrested without cause? What if I were completely convinced that my friend was the key to true freedom for our nation, and then I saw him murdered, brutally and publicly? The horror of my brilliant, kind, passionate, peaceful revolutionary friend, killed by people who hadn’t even bothered to try and understand his message. I would have been devastated. I would have felt hopeless and alone, afraid and furious. My heart would have broken.
And what if, one day shortly after the gruesome deed was done, I heard a rumor that he wasn’t dead anymore? What if I saw him with my eyes, touched him with my hands? What if he held me with his arms and I felt it—knew it as sure as the scars were fresh—love, personified. Simplified.
I hope that I would have been changed forever, dedicated to the cause for which he had died, committed to sharing it with anyone who would listen. I hope that I would have begun to live with new intention, so that he wouldn’t have died in vain, so that everyone would know about the freedom given at the cost of my friend’s life.
Love can be a tricky thing, but during Easter let us remember how simple Jesus has made it to receive. May we remember that the joy and heartache, satisfaction and pain that our deepest love for each other brings, is merely a shadow of the truest love in Christ. Let us consciously express gratitude for what a friend we have in Jesus. Let’s remember his sacrifice and live and love fully in his holy name. Amen.
Amanda J. Garcia is a freelance writer living in Elgin, Ill. Visit her online at instagram.com/mandyjgarcia