Guess what I did on Easter? Yep. I overslept. I had looked forward to my plans for an embarrassingly long amount of time, for various reasons.

For one, I don’t do Easter alone, ever. Easter is full of kids, hidden things being found, pastels, southern food, and good preaching. It’s a solid holiday for me. My birthday sometimes it falls right on Easter, and that’s just… *sigh*… it’s like a built-in birthday party. My best birthdays were Easters. I’m born AND Jesus is risen? Hallelujah. Sign me up.

Two… well,  I’m in Georgia… that’s a 14-hour drive to my closest blood relative. That means I have to get creative. I usually go to church, then have a lunch with people. It’s been the formula for years and years now. Well… til this year.

This year I overslept. I worked the night shift and got off work at 7:30am. I fell asleep about 8:30am, with every intention to wake up after a few hours and not miss my classic, traditional definition of Easter in its entirety. Instead, I woke up at 2pm, which was a big upset. Yikes. I also ran into a few bonus emotion triggers (it’s like finding the daily double on the dang Jeopardy board of emotions) that included but were not limited to: fear of abandonment (hello, more inner healing, sozo’ing myself this week til that’s out) and my late grandpa’s birthday landing on Easter (already makes me get all nostalgic because I miss him), and also fear of missing out aka fomo (more sozo!). Sweet Jesus, do I have work to do.

So, 2pm. First I was mad. Then I was sad. Then I was outraged. Then I was lonely. Then I was calling my best friend, crying like Ron Burgundy when the bad man punted Baxter, for a solid 12 minutes. Then I was okay. Then I was sleepy. Then I was NOT okay and NOT sleepy. Then I decided I was going to hike a mountain.

So I hiked a mountain.

I left my house and I was still upset. I walked outside and there were several adorable little black kids playing by my car. Stone Mountain babies are light brown compared to my Uganda babies, but close enough. For some reason, the littlest one wanted to know my name. Rather, he demanded to know my name, in a very cute, semi-threatening way. I said my name is Helena. He seemed satisfied with my answer and moved on to playing again. Another little girl asked me if I had a cat, and I said yes. She giggled and walked away. So I get in my car and wave goodbye to the neighborhood chocolate babies.

I drive for approximately 7 minutes, arrive at the mountain. It’s packed. Like…. ‘non-hikers wearing jeans’ packed. Like… ‘what are these people even doing outdoors in those shoes’ packed. Like… ‘everybody is wearing a baby’ packed. Like… ‘old woman in full African garb speaking an African language hiking the mountain’ packed. Everybody was there. All the nations. The kids. The reluctant teenagers, and their friends. Children with scraped knees and flushed cheeks. Families wearing very athletic outfits. Families in their Sunday clothes. Tantrums. Sprained ankles. Visors. Fanny Packs. Turbans. Every kind of spandex. Packed.

I was circling the parking lot to find a spot and wasn’t having any luck. It was just as well, because I started to feel like a weirdo for wanting to hike a crowded mountain by myself on Easter. Then this Bill Cosby-looking man, wearing a fanny pack, starts to approach my car. Two tween daughters trailed behind, with glittery t-shirts on, chewing gum like whatever. He walks up to my window and says “you looking for a parking spot?” and I nodded. “Follow me, then.” Ha! Might as well. So he walks and I creep along in my car near him. He points to the front row, says “second spot on the left!” and sure enough. I am getting front-row parking. SERIOUSLY?

So Parking Lot Bill Cosby gets in his car, the girls get in, and they back up. I pull in and park, and just shake my head. What just happened?… I feel flustered. I almost start crying, just from that gesture. He didn’t have to give me his spot, he could have just walked there and let whoever park behind him. Why would he think of me? Why? He must have seen my face through the window. He must have read me like a book. And I could start to see Easter happening for me. My seeking and finding. God seeing me struggle and intervening with a tiny gift.

I started the hike and right away I couldn’t help but chuckle at the conversations I was overhearing. People are so funny. Kids were squealing. Girls talked about embarrassing moments. I found myself in the middle. Sometimes I’d turn around and chuckle, and jump into a conversation with a “me too.” Up the path, I ended up making friends and we took pictures together.

I sat on the cool rock and I could feel perspective washing over me. I could feel how small this one day is in comparison to eternity. I could feel the weight of the reality of the Risen Christ being expanded outside of a church-service-and-lunch routine I’d boxed it into.

Love rises. It just does. Love overcomes. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Instead, Love believes all things. I put my hopes in my plans, and God showed up to bust me out of that box. I celebrated Easter with oversleeping and hiking a mountain alone. I hated it, then it was okay. Now that I look back, I know that I need to have grace for myself. I also need to focus on what’s important. God is doing a new thing. He’s bringing new opportunities into my life. He’s calling me into a new position of leadership with ministry. He’s showing me new places. He’s giving me a map to some old creaky places in my heart that need more healing, and I’m yielding to that. He gave me a big E-brake to pull, so that I could get perspective and slow down in the areas of life where I seem to rush.

For Easter, I give you what I got in my basket: an E-brake, a map, and a mountain.

An E-brake, so you can slow down and think. Slow down so you can be gracious. Slow down so you can see what’s really in front of you in its fullness. Slow down so you can make good decisions. Remember your priority and your focus. Slow down so you can steer in that direction.

A map so you can trace every stem down to the root. Every arising emotion that falls outside your normal is a map to something going on within. Ask God to show you. Don’t write anything off as an outlier, because it’s a map to a hidden place in your heart, where God wants to go with you.

And finally, a mountain. You get a mountain because you’re an overcomer. When you’re in need of perspective, I pray you’re willing to put your feet to work and rise to where you can get a better view. Proverbs 24:3 says “It takes wisdom to have a good family [By wisdom a house is built], and it takes understanding to make it strong [by understanding it is established].” You need to know yourself enough as a learner to get yourself to where you learn best. For me, I fare well with time and space, and height. That’s how I get understanding in the middle of a funk. You can have my mountain, too, if it helps.

I pray you feel the resurrection of Jesus and the meaning of His rising: your victory. In anything that upsets you, in anything that isolates you, in any area of your life where you ever feel left behind or like the odds are against you, guess what? He rose from the dead. He beat all the odds for you to know you could too. That’s Easter: our daily sufficiency in Him and through Him, the Living God.

Rise and shine.