Last Easter I was engaged.
It was a little before 10am. I shimmied a long-sleeve flowery dress over my shoulders, fidgeted in the full length mirror against my bedroom wall, fingers wrangling and slip-and-sliding sections of my dark brown hair in a clip, half up half down. On the drive to the Easter service I detoured left into the Starbucks drive-thru. AJ and I always got coffee for the other on Sundays before church, but this time I had two more coffees to get.
“For the future in-laws,” I explained to the lady at the window finally handing me cups filled with my best-probably-wrong guesses for what they might like.
I fought the urge to speed to guarantee a timely arrival, but worse than being late was the visual of tipping over $30 worth of caffeine on my car floor. The engagement ring on my steering wheel hand was only a few weeks worn-in that morning. I was still in the phase of noticing it often. It waved to my fiancé who was the volunteer greeter in a cowboy hat and pastel purple polo. It nested on my lap in my blue floral dress during the muggy outdoor service. It was a constant reminder that not only my left hand, but my life, had changed.
After church, a full family lunch, and picking out frosted cookies that looked like bunnies, eggs, and chicks, AJ took us back to his apartment. He was ready for a nap and I was ready for a walk. AJ, my fiancé, felt oddly foreign to me in that moment. Who is this person? What creature wants to be in an air-conditioned apartment on a sunny Easter afternoon? I didn’t know then that this wouldn’t be the first time. After pouting and pulling, we settled on a walk to the near-by gas station to get lottery tickets.
In a moment like that it was easy to forget I was where I prayed I would be a year ago.
The Easter before that I was single.
My roommate Ellie and I still dressed up that morning, even though church was on TV and we didn’t leave our downtown apartment. The long, tight cream and peachy flowered dress hidden in my closet finally came out. I gathered all my hair, including my overgrown bangs, in a high ponytail with a scrunchie.
There was a knock on our door for a cookie delivery from our church. Once the service ended and I’d snacked on snickerdoodles, I was barefoot in that dress with my legs up on the curved stone bench against pink-red blooming rose bushes circling me. The real life version of the verse I had been praying brought to life. “I’ll give her a bouquet of roses.” Hosea 2:14-15
There was an arbor in front of me that reminded me of a wedding and I prayed for a husband like I often did. I was waiting, had been for a long time. Thinking back to this time makes me miss Jesus. Our time together. How deeply I talked to him and how fully I trusted him. I gave him everything. He was my everything. With the warming of time and no reason for resistance, he became my first love.
That 2020 Easter, in the middle of a pandemic, I pressed record on my camera and shared the story of how Jesus saved me. It was the first time in my life I felt I had a true testimony to tell. The Easter story had never felt so personal. I let God save all of me—eating disorder and all. The spring flowers were blooming and apparently so was I.
“The fragrance of their flowers whispers, ‘There is change in the air.’” Song of Songs 2:13 My grandma texted me that verse.
I could smell and taste the sweetness of it, the change coming.
This Easter I am married.
I’m in love with my husband and flowers more than ever. I even planted my own. Bravely. Against all odds I picked out some zinnia seeds and patted them in a pot. Though doubtful staring at brown soil, I came to the conclusion it would be better to believe they would grow than not. “Love believes all things,” the Bible says. Even if they didn’t bloom, it is better to have believed they would than have not believed. So I believed.
It was a Tuesday when I went to water them and saw more than dirt. Three tiny green sprouts. The feeling in my heart was an overflow I wasn’t expecting. A waitress pouring your coffee for 10 seconds too long. Deep warmth all over for the centimeter of growth.
Wednesday AJ and I cut out magazine clippings for the future house we are saving for. Thursday I glued it together. Friday we dyed eggs. Saturday we decorated the top of our berry pound cake to make flowers out of blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. When Sunday came it was just AJ and I sitting in carpeted chairs at the 9am Easter service at a church in our neighborhood we hadn’t been to. I wore a white dress with tiny blue flowers, the one I wore for my bridal shower last June.
Embarrassingly, it was the first time we had been to a church service in a while. It felt like Easter came at the perfect time to get us back in there, even without a Starbucks stop. We each brought our mug with coffee from home.
Brunch with his family was right after and bubbly as the mimosas. We got back in the afternoon. Without pouting, AJ watched TV while I edited photos of a family with a one year old in bluebonnets. I couldn’t help but wonder and dream for our future family. The hope for it was never this strong before and I began to feel like I was missing out on moments that couldn’t possibly happen yet. When I needed a break from the screen there was no need to pull AJ off the couch when I asked him to go on a walk.
It was a good, simple Easter Sunday with two very different people.
If you looked at my life only through Easters, you would see a single girl, engaged girl, and married girl.
Each day looks different, but you would read the chapters of the story God was writing, one I couldn’t see yet, and each seems to answer the one before, closing the loop and stitching things together in a beautiful redemption arc.
There is this pattern—like the floral fabric in dresses I seem to gravitate towards—that repeats: God never changes. Never leaves. Jehovah Shammah. God-Is-There. The most constant one is constantly changing things. In fact, he makes all things new. Each Easter I didn’t stay where I was. Like my zinnia seeds, I grew. That’s what happens with Jesus. He never leaves you where he found you.
Growth though, is subtle. It shows up slowly sometimes, in places you don’t think to look. It looks like eating cookies in the morning, to going out to lunch, to making my own dessert to bring. Different, but the fabric is the same. Jesus, the one who loves me so much that he died on the cross for my sins and rose again, is the floral fabric of my life. Holding me together. Constantly changing me.
I realized when I looked at my life through that lens, Jesus’s greatest act of love, I see how as time passes he changes me by staying the same.
Easter changes things. Because he has new life, so do I. Every Easter.