Monday, April 18, 2011

Ruining Easter

My calling in the ward is to teach primary. I have eight little eight year old girls. I don't know why they split the boys and girls up, but I got the girls class, and while there are times I wish that Sunday was a chance to catch up with the grown ups, I have definitely come to love these little girls. They are so pure and sweet and well behaved. Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice. I tend to overestimate their maturity for some reason. I always want to answer every random question because I think they are at a really critical age where they need to know that there are answers to all of their questions. I know that sometimes I go a little bit over their heads and then I will be brought back down to earth when they make totally unrelated statements. For example, I will be bearing down in passionate testimony about some point of doctrine and one of them will raise their hand and say "My dog threw up on the couch this morning". And then all eight arms fly up and they all want a turn to tell a story either about their dog or a time they witnessed vomiting. Still, I press on. They are baptized and accountable and there are moments when the spirit is so strong and I know they get it.

Yesterday the lesson was of course the lesson leading up to Easter so we learned about the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead. They were totally enraptured as I told the story of Lazarus falling ill and Mary and Martha just knew that Jesus could heal him because they had seen him heal people. They had seen him turn water into wine. They knew he could walk on water. But when Jesus was sent for he didn't come right away. He took his sweet time and Lazarus died. By the time Jesus got there he wasn't just dead he was stinking and rotting and entombed. Everyone was ticked. If Jesus would have hurried he could have saved him.

You could have heard a pin drop. These girls had never heard this story and and they were gripped. I asked "What were these people missing?"

"He could bring him back to life." There is one girl in the class that is about twice as smart as all of the others put together. She runs circles around everyone else and she makes it a sport. She is a handful but I can always count on her to get the real message.

I testified that Jesus has power over death and he demonstrated this power by bringing Lazarus back. But he wasn't done showing his power over death. He was preparing to perform another miracle that was infinitely more important that would change the mortality of every single person who had ever lived or ever would live. He was preparing to bring himself back from death. Not just alive but perfect and immortal, paving the way for all of us to live forever. This is why we celebrate Easter. This is the greatest thing that has ever happened in the history of the universe. This is the greatest miracle that has ever been conceived.

The spirit was so strong. It was so satisfying to feel the message hit home to these little eight year old hearts. This moment was worth every dog vomit story I had ever heard from them. Then I said "How do you feel RIGHT NOW? Excited, worried? scared? pleasure? or peace?" They all agreed they felt so peaceful it was warm in their chests. One of them told me that it made her want to cry but not a sad cry, just a happy cry."

"Girls, for the rest of your lives I want you to remember this moment. Whenever you want to know if anything is true I wasn't you to think back to when you were eight and learned about Lazarus and the Resurrection and remember how you felt. If it is not just like this, it is not true. Satan can make any feeling but he cant make this. This feeling is peace and it is telling us that Jesus us real." I was barely able to speak by the end because I was so choked up with emotion. I felt the spirit of the lesson so strongly and I felt these girls feeling it too. It was a powerful moment.

Then Miss Smarty Pants realizes that she has a golden opportunity to demonstrate her superior knowledge over the rest of the class and to nail the teacher to the wall. She couldn't resist. "So where does the Easter Bunny fit in to all of this?" I have no doubt that she knew full well what the Easter Bunny has to do with the real Easter and she had me pinned. She was very curious to see if I would come clean in front of everyone.

I explained that people have always enjoyed celebrating springtime and that as is often the case in human history people ended up mixing the celebration of spring and Easter. We are lucky enough to know the real meaning of Easter.

So She looks me in the eye with a smirk on her face and said "So are you saying that the Easter Bunny is NOT REAL?" She had gone all Katie Couric on me and she was not going to back off until she got a full confession.

At that moment and under those circumstances, it would have been morally wrong to dodge the question or to leave any doubt on the table about the existence of the Easter Bunny. "The Easter Bunny is not real. Jesus is real. I know it because I have prayed about it and I have felt the Holy Ghost confirm to my heart that Jesus is real."

I was a little worried that some of them would e crushed. I could tell from the looks on their faces that this Easter Bunny thing was totally new information. I was imagining irate parents calling and complaining. I felt just a little bit like the Grinch but I knew that ultimately I was doing them a favor by being truthful. How can we expect these kids to have authentic faith in Christ and also promote mythical Easter Eggs and Rabbits who can get into your house and leave candy? These kids end up with more tangible proof of Santa and the Tooth Fairy than they do of the Savior. I had to set the record straight. The thing is, not only did I have the comfort of knowing I was magnifying my calling, but I sensed a great feeling of relief from the girls. It all made much more sense and the Spirit was making it all make sense.

Then I very hypocritically passed out Peeps and Cadbury Eggs and we all basked in Truth and Sugar. A perfect Easter high.


The Lamb's said...

Way to go! You are a great Primary teacher. I agree, it is so important to teach these little ones the real reason we celebrate Easter.
I think of you every single year during this time of the Easter Pageant. I remember how excited you were about it and I know you talked Jeremy into taking me :) It was kind of our first "date". So glad you sweet talked him into it! You are the best!

Ranee said...

We recently had this discussion in our family, about Santa and the Easter Bunny both. Our kiddo's brought it up. We had an honest discussion with our children while simultaneously dodging the topic of who actually brings the goods to our house. (They didn't ask that part, so we didn't tell that part.) :0) We just didn't want to lie to them. We wanted them to know that Jesus lives and is the real reason for these celebrations!

Cheryl said...

I love this! I'm printing it and sharing it with my kiddos at scripture and prayer tonight! You are an amazing woman and those are some dang lucky girls to have a teacher like you!
Did your house really flood?! I can't even believe that! Sometimes it literally rains when it pours! I am so sorry :(

Kramer Boys

Kramer Boys