By Paul Ashton, Psy.D., D.Min.
Consultant to the VIRTUS® Programs
This is the feast of victory for our God.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain,
Whose blood set us free to be people of God.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!1
Alleluia! Easter has finally arrived and we rejoice in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He has risen as He said! Easter is the sign of new life for all, and it is the promise of hope for vulnerable persons—including victims, survivors and thrivers.
For those who are struggling as victims, Easter brings the gift of light. The suffering that occurs in the shadows, in secret and in the silence of darkness now opens way to light, to truth and to a having a voice heard loudly and clearly. Easter gives voice to the song sung in the silence of hearts for many years. Easter beckons you from the dark cave of death to the promise of a new life. These words are promises fulfilled by Jesus as He conquered death. He welcomes you to share in His new life!
For those who are survivors, Easter brings the hope of life filled with meaning, purpose and clarity. It is a gift, which takes away anxiety and fear and replaces it with confidence and surety. Living in anxiety and dwelling in the shadows is no longer an option. Easter names you as a child of God beautifully created and tremendously loved. It bestows on you the gift of no longer worrying about being unworthy, good enough or bad. Easter takes away shame and washes away guilt. You are living life close to the flame and you no longer need fear being burned—instead you reflect a bright light!
For those who are thriving, Jesus rejoices with you! Easter inspires you to continue on your journey with a love for life—making every day a resurrection day. Easter inspires you to continue embracing all that comes your way with confidence and Faith in knowing that all will be well. Easter is a time for rejoicing in being affirmed in your goodness and recognizing your value as a child of God. It is a time for celebrating your gifts and talents—most of all by sharing them with others. Easter is big and it validates the bigness of your own life. It allows you to take your space and place within the world without flinching or shying away.
When I am in the presence of victims/survivors/thrivers of sexual abuse in my travels around the country, I often wish I could pass on a secret password or directions with a key to an underground tunnel that leads to one big room where all could meet and feel at home. The room would have free and easy access and be a safe place where victims/survivors/thrivers could gather 24/7 and share their journeys. You could get there in five minutes even from the most remote of places, and everyone would greet you warmly when you entered. The room would be filled with people who understand that they are bigger than a label and cannot be limited to words like victim/survivor/thriver. The folks there would understand that feelings in people change and experiences in being a victim/survivor/thriver fluctuate with some good days and some not-so-good days. But despite my hopeful longing, I have not found such a room, even after all of these years of searching.
What I have found instead is somewhat better. Meeting people, sometimes in the oddest of places, who extend kindness to me, frequently in a gesture and occasionally with a smile—at times even with a cookie! These encounters are precious gifts to me. Often it is not a person, but a place of serenity and solitude. On occasion it is a glimpse of the beauty of nature in an otherwise difficult day. What I have found to be an invaluable blessing to this struggling victim/survivor/thriver are God's great gifts of the persons, places and things He weaves into my life to remind me of His Easter promise. God sends them my way each day, and when the world gets to be a dark and scary place, I am surprised again and again by His Easter promise. May you find these great Easter gifts often. Amen. Allelluia!
1Richard Hillert. Festival Canticle (Revelation 5).