Easter asks me to believe in the resurrection. There have been seasons where I have – firmly, resolutely, and with deep gratitude. There have been seasons where I have not – firmly, resolutely, and with a just-below-the-surface ache of sadness.
The resurrection notwithstanding, most aspects of my faith co-mingle with significant doubt. There are few, if any, non-negotiables. And I find endless respite in the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson:
There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.
Even if I can catch a glimpse of god or latch on to the smallest fragment of comprehension, the idea of the resurrection feels far away and hard to swallow.
Until this year and the everyday resurrection of my girlfriend, Beth.
Beth’s husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer less than a year ago. This was a blow, to be sure – for him, for Beth, and for their 10-year-old son. Then, four months later, Beth was diagnosed with breast cancer.
While her husband undergoes chemotherapy and radiation, swallows fistfulls of pills multiple times throughout the day, and struggles with an ever-waning appetite and accompanying weight loss, Beth meets with specialists, talks to surgeons, weighs options, and schedules her mastectomy.
Weeks after her diagnosis, her left breast is removed. Weeks after that she begins her own chemo regimen. And not two weeks after that she begins losing her hair, shaves her head, and dons a wig she’s named “Betty Grace.” In the midst of this she goes to her own appointments and those of her husband. She goes to her son’s softball games. She goes to work. She goes to the grocery store. She goes to the gym. And internally (though few would guess such from what she shows on the outside) she goes crazy with worry, with fear, with exhaustion.
She does what she must. There is no Plan B.
Beth embodies the power of the resurrection every single day when she pulls herself out of bed and bravely, miraculously faces an unimaginable unknown.
And because of such, this Easter…
Death does not have the final say.
Darkness does not win.
Vast clouds of witnesses rejoice.
And I sit humbly by, watching her courage, her stamina, her grief, her tears, her every-day-death-defying life and can do nothing but believe.
- The resurrection asks me to suspend disbelief and grasp firmly onto hope.
- The resurrection asks me to stare death in the face and fully believe that with the next sunrise, life will burst forth.
- The resurrection asks me to trust that my truest, most-alive self will not and cannot remain buried.
- The resurrection asks me to believe in a god that surpasses my reason, my explanation, my frustration over apologetics, and any desire for proof.
- The resurrection occurs every single day when I choose hope in the midst of despair, courage in the midst of fear, and trust in the midst of worry.
Anne Lamott wisely said that the opposite of faith is not doubt, it’s certainty. Beth has no certainty. It is this very thing that makes her rich in faith. And at least this Easter, her faith is more than enough to encourage and embolden my own.
If Beth can rise again (and again and again), I can surely believe.
My dear, dear friend:
May you know surprising and rich places of joy and rest. May life endure. And may this Easter’s celebration of the resurrection be one that offers you even more strength, courage, and beauty than the rest of us see and experience in you every day.
All my faith (such as it is), all my hope (which tenaciously endures), and all my love (which increases by the hour) is yours.