by Andilyn Jenkins
This year our family is in the Mesa Easter Pageant. We auditioned in October, received the cast list in December, and began rehearsals last Saturday. At first, I was hesitant to bring up the idea to Aaron. I know the time commitment a play takes, and I wasn’t confident our young family could handle the stress that late nights cause. But a friend of mine encouraged me, promising me that anything we sacrificed would be replaced by immeasurable blessings. So I took a step of faith, spurred by my own burning desire to be back in a show, and brought it up with Aaron expecting resistance; after all, he’s been a show-widower before and knows probably even better than I do what kind of sacrifice theatre is on the family.
I researched the show, read the requirements, checked the dates, asked lots of questions, and then came prepared with my pros and cons to discuss our options with Aaron.
“Aaron, auditions for the Easter Pageant are next week. I think it would be an incredible opportunity for our family if we all auditioned together now while we don’t have any kids in school,” I said, waiting for his questions.
“That sounds like a great idea.”
“Oh. Well,” I said, wondering what to do with all of my preparation, “yes. It is. Cool! Let’s do it, then!”
And that’s how we got to rehearsal on a sweaty Saturday in March in front of the temple standing on the stage with a crying 15-month-old and a four-year-old swinging from my arms whining, “Mom, when will we be done? This is so boring!”
And I kept wondering . . . where are all those blessings?
My patience was thin at-best, Evan the toddler came down with a fever, and Evelyn was obstinate and moody—reflecting my own mood like a big, whiny mirror.
This pageant was a terrible idea. Look what I did to my family. We are all so stressed; I have no energy left to deal with kids, and I have fifteen other things going on right now that need my time and attention beyond this.
So I prayed. I prayed for patience. I prayed for sleep. I prayed for strength. And I prayed for optimism. And nothing really changed. Until last night. We left Evan at home with my mom while Aaron, Evelyn, and I went to rehearsal to block the “Jesus with the Children” scene.
The scene felt so familiar. I’ve been at many playgroups where Evelyn’s quiet first impression leads to invisibility and she watches from the wall while the kids play a game. Rarely, a kind child notices Evelyn and includes her. And so it was here: all the young children circle around Jesus Christ and dance, and Evelyn lacks the courage to be included. She stands and moves closer to me instead of meeting Jesus. And my heart breaks because I know what she’s missing, and it’s not Candyland. She’s missing a chance to hear her name from His lips and know that He loves her infinitely more than Aaron and I are capable of.
But I try to console my motherly heart. Evelyn doesn’t know what she’s missing. And she is healthy and whole; there is no reason she deserves to meet Him more than any of the other children. We can see Him. We can feel the Spirit. Surely, that can be enough.
But then He seeks her out, and I get to give her away. He brings her to the heart of the group of children and places her on His knee then gives her a squeeze. And Evelyn, feeling His love for her, treats Him like her own big brother, even though moments before He was a stranger, and gives Him a kiss. End scene.
And that's when I knew this Easter Pageant thing was a terrible idea—because it kidnapped me. And I was powerless to loosen its grip. This was not a one-year experience. I would do whatever I needed to be in this show again and again. Because I now know why I’m sacrificing—why my whole family is sacrificing. We are testifying that Christ lives. Christ knows you by name and finds you when you are alone to give you a hug from an infinitely loving big brother.
I found this image from last year's show here. Photo by Scott P. Adair
Please come support those who have sacrificed so much to make this season's production possible. Please come to see a beautiful witness of Jesus Christ and refocus on Him this Easter. For information on dates and times click here.