There are so many things I do just because. Because that’s the way my parents did it. Because that’s the way everybody does it. Because that’s just what you do. But daily I am growing more convinced that just because living is not only foolish, but dangerous. The Bible calls us very clearly to a single purpose–that everything we do, say, think, believe, desire, accept, reject, love, and hate must glorify God so that His name will be great in our lives and among the nations. If that is the mission then everything we do or don’t do must be filtered through that lens.
Around this time of year, moms often ask me whether we “do” the Easter bunny. And I offer a very vague response. “No, I never grew up with the Easter bunny.” I’m vague because I know the Easter bunny is not sinful, in and of himself. I know that many parents who are passionate about Jesus and His mission, choose to surprise their children on Easter morning with a basket of gifts from the Easter bunny. I know that to many it is a special, even magical, family tradition. And I know that of every people group on the planet, no one heaps as much guilt upon themselves as mothers. Our hearts are fodder for guilt. And the last thing I ever want to do is fan the flame of false condemnation.
So hear my heart when I say, I’m not writing as Super-Mom or Super-Holier-Than-Thou-Mom. Those things disgust me, because they’re lies. They discredit all Christ’s work in my life. I am writing as a sister, who is learning something that I want to share in love: We don’t do the Easter bunny because we don’t think the Easter bunny is the most effective way to glorify God at Easter.
It’s not the bunny, so much as the gifts he brings. A few weeks ago, we took our kids to a downtown festival. Disaster. Much of it was poor parenting–we didn’t set limits in advance or warn them that we weren’t going to ride, play, eat, and buy everything in sight. Suffice to say, it was miserable. On the way home, my husband made the remark that the festival was like Sin City for kids. It had everything they desired. It catered to all their cravings. And the more they consumed, the more demanding and ungrateful they became. In essence, we thrust them into temptation without any training to stand up under it.
The Bible warns against putting obstacles or “stumbling blocks” in the way of a brother or sister (Rom 14:13, I Cor 8:9), and this is my greatest fear when it comes to the Easter bunny. If the gospel is the most important message I can ever convey to my children, and if their understanding of it and receptivity to it determines the satisfaction of their life and the security of their eternal home, then why would I put any obstacle in their path that may distract from the gospel? When my girls hear the word Easter, I don’t want them to squeal in delight because their first thought is that a bunny will bring them a Barbie doll. And I know my girls. I know that just like their mom, their flesh is weak toward materialism. I know that just like their mom, they constantly seek false refuges for satisfaction. Just like their mom, they’re tempted to believe that things can fulfill them more than Jesus can fulfill them.
I know that only God saves (Jn 6:44), but I want to set my daughters up to see the gospel by creating a home where as few things as possible compete with it. My daughters have a mother who still believes that television and the latest Pamela Schoenewaldt novel is more satisfying and restful than Christ. They have a mother who still studies the Bible like it’s suggested summer reading. Who still can’t even wrestle her own weak flesh out of the bed to meet with the God of the universe. It is hard enough. It is hard enough to grasp the magnitude and implications of the gospel. It’s hard enough to shake the worldliness out of our vastly diluted cultural Christianity. Why add one more opportunity for our kids to turn the focus of Easter into a focus on self?
Let me, please, pour out this confession in closing: sometimes I don’t want to write anything to you because I am so deeply and painfully aware of my own failure as a Christian. If only you could really see me (I’m talking Nanny-cam see me), you would never feel threatened by me. Instead, you would say, Man, God is INCREDIBLE to have not given up on her.
And that’s why I have the confidence to write to you. Because God is incredible. His grace is incredible! We still do Easter egg hunts and bouncy house family fun days, and a thousand other things every day of the year that could threaten to distract from the gospel. We are by no means that perfect family. We are simply growing by grace, and I want to share with you the things God is teaching me so that we can think together, worship together, and rejoice in the grace of God together.
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9 thoughts on “Why the Bunny Makes Me Nervous”
I think the line ” We don’t do the Easter bunny because we don’t think the Easter bunny is the most effective way to glorify God at Easter.” might be my favorite. We live in a country outside of the US where Easter isn’t celebrated culturally. When we are able to share about the truth and power of this day, we don’t want to muddy the water with the bunny for this reason. I appreciate that you wrote that there isn’t anything wrong in and of itself with the bunny, but he certainly isn’t necessary and can even become a bit of a distraction. Thank you for putting into words what I have been thinking and feeling for years. We do have baskets, but we don’t usually put a ton of stuff in them and we don’t say they came from a bunny. We just say that we love them and wanted to give them a gift. One year, I got an idea from a friend.
I took two baskets. One was a pleasant basket with grass and colored eggs that had the fruit of the spirit written on them. The other basket was filled with dirty rocks. The night before Easter, I showed my daughter the baskets. I showed her each egg and read the words. I also showed her the dirty rocks basket. She said, “I want THAT basket.” pointing to the eggs. I told her the basket with the eggs was Jesus’ basket and the rock basket was hers. She was very sad, to say the least.
After she went to bed, I switched the baskets putting the eggs in her basket and the rocks in Jesus’. When she got up, she saw the baskets and we talked about how Jesus, because of what He did for us, takes all our sin and gives us salvation and good things. It was a significant part of our Easter. The idea began where the pretty basket was full of candy and such, but I was afraid of promoting a prosperity gospel. Ha.
Excellent! It really is hard to celebrate Easter for the greatness of what it really is. No bunnies here either, but because of circumstances we have missed the mark this year in our focus. Thanks for the encouragement!
I love this! Thank you for sharing your heart and what God is teaching you. It is an encouragement to this mom!
Very sensitively written. I agree, though it makes me an immediate hypocrite:( My children are 18 and 16. Wishing to have some care free silliness before they are out on their own, my husband and I did the plastic eggs with chocolate. Before church, we are going to make them hunt the eggs with our reading glasses on so they can see what it’s like for us in our “old age.”
I’m hoping we can laugh and bond and celebrate that HE IS RISEN!
Very well said..along those same lines, we have forgone Christmas presents as well. Just add a little extra to their birthday presents and Christmas is so much more enjoyable for all of us without the materialism mixed in. Thanks for a sensitively written article!
You wrote exactly what my husband and I discussed on Easter! Thank you for being brave enough to write it and write it so eloquently.
Fantastic post! You are so real! My kids got some candy, but they know mom got it for them (they even said thank you!), not a big bunny!
My favorite line (b/c it’s SO ME) “They have a mother who still studies the Bible like it’s suggested summer reading.” Thank you for being so honest. It does give the rest of us hope!
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Thank you, as always, for being open and honest. This post hit home for me, even though we don’t do the Easter bunny, because it made me think of Christmas and what a self-centered holiday it has become. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on Santa and Christmas (although I realize we still have many months to go before then!).