I’m sorry, I just got overwhelmed. No one tells you how hard this is all gonna to be. Marriage, being a parent: it’s the hardest job in the world and nobody prepares you for that. Nobody tells you how much you have to give up. I feel like I gave up so much. I’ve given up so much of what made me who I am but I can’t say that because I’m a very bad person if I say that. But I feel it. I really do, I feel that sometimes. I did make a choice. I made a choice. Even if it’s harder than I thought, I don’t regret it. I’m very sure. I just think these things are gonna happen and we’re gonna get through them. We’ll get through them together.

That could have been written by me. I’m sure, in one way or another, I’ve said/thought this exactly. Numerous times. This was a scene from a movie that we watched last night but let me start from the beginning of the weekend.

The message at church this Easter weekend was amazing. I never thought it would be possible to actually enjoy a church more as the time spent there increased, but it sure is true for me, Jase and the kids regarding this new place we’ve found. I love that our church thinks so far out of the “box” from most churches, or every church that Jase and I have attended. For instance, on a weekend where everyone tries to look as perfect/shiny/new as possible, our church theme for the Easter weekend was geared around trash. As in, the trash company. The church screens that have announcements before the service, had animated flies buzzing around and the entire stage was designed as a junkyard, with tons of actual junkyard items strewn amongst the stage and musicians. It was an amazing and curious sight to see stacks of nasty tires, a rusty car’s axle, pieces of car parts, an old, rusty, broken, dilapidated fridge, a keg, and many other random pieces of junk in a place where so many religious freaks would claim was tainting “holy ground.” Our Pastor made an amazing reference in that, everything on that stage was, at the beginning of it’s existence, new. His message for the weekend was that most of us live our lives to better ourselves: strive for fame, a bigger house, fancier car, nicer body, better job, better spouse, more money. He pointed out that those things, in and of themselves, aren’t wrong but that most of us will spend our entire lives trying to fulfill these goals and at some point, we look back on our lives and wonder what went wrong or wonder what we’re missing. Most of us spend our lives living for things that we thought would bring happiness and all we’re left with is regret and a lack of joy. We end up resembling the junk on the stage: old, used up, rusty, broken and sad-looking. “You’ve spent money, time and energy that you can’t get back. Sometimes it’s no big deal; a few dollars here, a couple of hours there. But, what do you do when you realize you are wasting your life?”

The quote that I started this entry with is from “Marley and Me”. It’s very interesting that Jase and I decided to rent it as our family movie last night. I couldn’t believe the similarity of the overall theme of this movie and the message at church. I found myself crying a lot during “Marley and Me” and it didn’t even have to do with the dog. It was so much deeper than that. I related with that movie so much because I feel like the main character, Jen, reflected so much of who I am and on so many levels other than the name itself. 🙂

Jase and I decided to forego a college education. We started college but didn’t complete it. We got married young and were pregnant six months after we got married. We went into marriage and parenthood with virtually NO outline or counseling. Comparing us to most of our friends, you’d see that we did our life pretty much backwards. Almost every other couple we know began their twenties with schooling, then their career, then premarital counseling, marriage, got some animals and then started to have children. We’ve always been trailblazers, but reflecting on our life for the past eleven years has often brought me to thoughts of concern and regret. What will I do once the kids are all in full-time school? Will someone hire me after being home with the kids for so long? Is it too late to go back to school? What if I am just as horrible as a student now as I was in High School? Does anyone my age relate to me without me having a degree? Am I good at doing anything without a college degree? The questions go on and on. For some reason, I have no problem forgiving people around me and loving on people despite their faults but I have issues with letting myself off the hook, forgiving myself for mistakes and being happy and ok with who I am. I have severe issues with judging myself.

Last night, when putting the kids to bed, Zoe was reflecting on her day and complaining about all the things she wasn’t able to do over the course of the weekend. Instead of being grateful for what she had done and what she was able to have, she only saw what she lacked. Without even seeing that this was a setup that she unknowingly placed me in for instruction, I found myself sharing with Malakai and Zoe that the complaining they do in life has got to stop. When they have bad moments in their day, they don’t have to rule their entire day, “a bad day”. I shared with them that they have a choice to make. They can either live their lives focusing on what they don’t have and what they aren’t able to do, or they can focus on the positive things that make up so many moments of every single day. You can have good days with bad moments OR you can ignore the goodness and just have bad days all the time. I didn’t even realize I was also talking to myself until I came downstairs later.

I needed the message at church this weekend. I needed that movie for an added emphasis last night. I needed to teach my children an important value so I could hear my own voice speaking something that needed to go in my own ears. I need to be reminded that 1.) I’m not alone and 2.) I have a choice in life.

I can live in regret and guilt. I can give up. I can live in failure. I can live with unfufilled expectations.

OR

I can live in happiness. I can be effective. I can live in triumph. I can live with a focus on the future and making that future and the people in it, better.

What does all of this have to do with Easter? As the pastor put it, “It means everything”.  Without Jesus, there is no hope. If He simply died and then was buried, He would have been no different than any other man. But He rose from death. Without Jesus, the possessions we strive for in life, even our bodies, have no purpose. Without Jesus, we gather, consume, deteriorate and die.

Without Jesus, there is no hope. No purpose. No fulfilling reason to live. I choose to share that hope with myself. I choose to share that hope with my husband and children and with everyone around me.

What do you choose?