When I was sick and battling with the consequences of mental illness, all of my doctors seemed to think it was important for me to have faith, some sort of connection to a higher power and even a religious orientation that might help me discover and reaffirm my self-worth.
Back then, I didn't like myself. I was too short, too heavy, and had nothing inside I could be proud of, nothing I thought that would ever attract the "right kind of people" which was all my parents seemed to care about. My tormented father, in his often abusive moments, reaffirmed these thoughts. He himself was probably not "the right kind of people" even though he desperately aspired to be one. His Southern roots, growing out of the Civil War period many decades before, had turned him into a hollow tree with no fruit or leaves only the vague connection to a family and a tradition that was long past. It's ironic that he was a tree surgeon, called in by wealthy families to prune their landscapes and kill off the weeds and unwanted pests. Professionally and personally, he was concerned with what was wrong. And growing up, I was all wrong in his eyes.
So .... with a father who could only see my faults and a mother that expected me to help her achieve the social standing she believed was her right, I was a huge disappointment. And it was likely that that disappointment and my parents inability to see the world through anything but their wounded hearts and troubled beliefs, that robbed me of early stability. Parents matter!
And so did faith, according to those kind men that wanted me to become well again. Without a family to draw a positive identity from, I was instructed to seek out answers to questions I didn't know I needed: Who am I? Why do I Matter? Who might love me despite my disappointing looks and ways. Not being a particularly intellectual person, it took cookies and a beautiful hymn to help get these questions even on my plate. Cookies with coffee got me to church one Sunday. And then, letting myself be open to the transformative power of music got me to understand that there might be something bigger than me, something that connected me to a life of meaning, purpose, and beauty.
At Easter time, I remember that first moment I saw the world differently. By releasing my resistance to faith and the possibility that there was something in me that was beautiful and special, I began to realize that new thoughts and feelings could flow into me and help me rediscover my own person-hood and deep value.
For me, Easter is about rising from the dead, not only because I am a Christian but because I understand the power of rolling back the stone and opening oneself up to the grandness and goodness of a benevolent God and universe. I am grateful for a few wonderful doctors that helped me grow and become a fruitful tree ... despite my roots. And I'm grateful every day for the ability to see myself through the eyes of love and acceptance.