Today is the day that Christians celebrate what seems the silliest premise of their religion (the virgin birth being a close second). Resurrection from the dead.
Somewhere in the Bible, one of Jesus’ followers says something like, “Well, of course it sounds crazy – if it sounded sane, it wouldn’t take any faith to believe in it!” Good point.
I’m just crazy enough to believe in this stuff, and I thank God (oh – there I go again) that I do. At times I read the Bible and think, “What??” But at other times, the words go down like a draught of pure truth and transcendental joy.
Still, it is not just “crazy” Bible stories that make me believe; it is also my personal experience — the miracles I have experienced in my own “resurrection.” I know for a fact that I would not have had the strength to overcome drug addiction, or Marlboro Lights for that matter, without the power of prayer.
More miraculous are the “smaller” things I’ve experienced through the grace of God, which aren’t really smaller at all. They are all addictions in their own right. I am NOT here to tell you I’ve recovered from any of these. But I have definitely made progress in the twenty years I’ve been a committed Christian, and as they say, “progress, not perfection.” I have been raised from the dead zone of many a curse.
So here are six tips on how you can rise from the dead . . . whether or not you think Jesus did.
1. Get over yourself.
You are not the center of the universe. Other people are just as important as you are. The best way to do this is to have a kid – then they become the center of your universe.
But I didn’t have one of those, so I have had to work harder at this one. Humiliating and embarrassing myself works well, so I do this regularly.
2. Embrace it: nobody is any better than you are.
This is a careful balance with #1. I find that most people are a bizarre mix of grandiosity and massive low self-esteem. It’s weird. Anyway, you are a beautiful gift to the universe –please accept and love yourself, unconditionally and just the way you are. There has never been and never will be another you. I am glad you are alive.
3. You have unique contributions to make with your life. You should not waste the chance.
It’s important to get #1 and #2 above balanced, or you might miss your chance to help bend the arc of history towards love and justice. Because as Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault writes, even if you are doing “good things,” if you have unhealthy motivations (getting noticed, being loved, even getting to heaven) then you could actually be putting negative energy into the universe.
4. You can’t help much in the world – you probably won’t even want to – unless you stop feeling sorry for yourself.
Victimhood. Oh my God, don’t get me started. When I see this in myself, and I often do, I immediately do some serious spiritual intervention in the form of prayer and journaling and sometimes even fasting, if it’s a doozy. I think the fastest way to change your life — to rise up from under – is to drop your expectations of the world and other people. You will be so much happier, and so will your family and friends. Expectations are just pre-meditated resentments.
5. Forgive yourself and other people.
We are all broken, messed up people, and we will all hurt each other (and ourselves) horribly. Release yourself from the burdens of resentment, anger, guilt, and bitterness. Obsess instead about how lovely the spring flowers are.
Which leads me to this most important resurrection tip:
6. Practice gratitude.
If you release the victimhood curse, gratitude will naturally follow. It is the best gift you can give yourself and the world. There’s no earthly reason you should have woken up breathing this morning, but you did. Be grateful for that. And for a roof over your head, people you love, pets to feed, coffee or tea to drink, gifts that you have that you can share with the world. Perhaps you might want to make a gratitude list in celebration of this new day, this new life that you can choose if you want. Rise up from the things that hold you down! Even if you don’t believe in Jesus and you’re not celebrating Easter, a gratitude list might be a nice present to yourself on this particular Sunday. Maybe a few chocolate eggs, too.