by Merry Armentrout, The AFA's Director of Communications
For Christians, Easter is a time of celebration. I always look forward to the church service on Easter Sunday because I know the pulpit will be filled with beautiful flowers, the hymns will have a festive tone and a huge brunch will follow the service where I will try desperately not to spill anything on my new Easter dress. We're celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, and a time where Christians can't help but remember the love Jesus has for his children.
What happens when Easter rolls around and you don't feel much like celebrating? Maybe you're dealing with infertility, undergoing IVF or in the thick of the adoption process, and you're just not in the mood to be festive. Maybe your problem has nothing to do with starting a family, but life's other challenges have you trying to keep your head above water. This Easter, my family is struggling to find joy, to find faith.
My father has struggled with glaucoma for years, and lost most of the vision in his right eye a few years ago. Last Thursday, he had a minor eye surgery on his left eye, and developed a staph infection in his eye. Less than 10 hours later he had lost all vision in his left eye. The doctors told him this week his retina might regenerate in a year, but there are no guarantees. Hopefully he'll be able to see well enough to read, but he will never drive again. He is legally blind. This would be hard news for anyone to receive, but one of my dad's passions is collecting antique cars, and the thought of never driving again really hit him hard.
It has been a hard week for my family. I flew home and spent hours in doctor's offices and hospitals, getting a glimpse of the hell my dad has endured. I watched the proudest man I know, ask me to walk him to the bathroom in an unfamiliar restaurant. I helped my mom learn how to use the computer so she can help my dad check him emails. I heard the bravest man I know say he needs a break from the hourly antibiotic drops he has to put into his eyes- could he just skip one time? I heard both my parents crying as we sat in church yesterday, thinking I didn't notice their tears, as I wiped my own eyes. We're trying to adjust to a new life, but are left questioning why we were put in this situation. My prayers are intertwined with pleas for dad's sight to return, and angry accusations as to why God would have this happen. It's very difficult to watch someone you love so much go through something so terrible. What I need right now is faith, and it's the one thing I'm having a hard time finding.
For me, faith is not blaming God, but trusting Him. Trusting everything will be okay, trusting my father will find the determination to get through this and trusting the same man that raised me with such temerity, will be the same man who emerges from this battle. I just spent the last week looking at my father's face- it was not full of faith, but fear and dejection, and my father is the ringleader of our group, the one who drags us to church every Sunday since we were children. If he can't find faith, how possibly can I?
I don't know. I'm sure you're looking for something more inspirational, but it's the truth. I don't know how I'm going to find it, but I have faith I will. I might not be in a celebratory mood this Sunday, but I will put on my new Easter dress, go to church and appreciate the beautiful flowers and uplifting hymns. I will then turn to one of my dad's favorite bible verses.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If I have to read it a hundred times, a thousand times, I will. I'll read it until I find the faith, until I find the peace. And so will my dad.
I don't know what battle you're fighting, or if you're even fighting a battle at all. But I do know it helps to realize you're not alone in battle. My cousin always told me she smiles at everyone because you never know what that person might be going through. Life is tough. Life is unexpected. But as one of my favorite poets, Robert Frost said, "In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life. It goes on."
Might as well go with it. And find time to celebrate.