By Taylor Straatmann

Feeling Feelings This Easter

I often don’t feel the way I think I should. I want to feel joyful in my work, consistently loving toward my roommates and family, and properly confident in God and in myself, but it’s usually not that simple. I’m a big over-thinker and can spend a lot of time and energy analyzing my actions and my feelings and being frustrated with myself when it doesn’t all align.

I love the part of the Easter story when the angel appears to the women at the tomb (Matthew 28-1-10). The angel calls out to the women and reminds them of Jesus’ promise to return to them. The women are invited to look into the tomb for themselves as they process, and the angel gives them a role and a way to be an active part of this story as they are sent to tell others this news that changes everything. It is hope filled and empowering.

This passage is also careful to note that the women went away “afraid yet filled with joy.” Why include this detail of how they felt while they went? Are these women like me, wishing that they could be completely joyful?

We don’t know exactly why this detail is included. Unlike the guards in the story, who were so afraid of the angel “that they shook and became like dead men” (Matt. 28:4), the women are afraid yet filled with joy. It’s comforting that in that mix of fear and joy they go and share this news with others. It reminds me that God acknowledges the complexity of emotions about the things he calls me to do. And I am called to move forward.

Rather than getting too caught up in whether I feel the way I should, I can trust that Jesus will meet me in the midst of my feelings. In this same way, Jesus meets the women in the midst of their feelings. He acknowledges their fear and he sends them on. They don’t even have to complete the task the angel gives them before Jesus meets them himself!

Most of our lives with God are lived in these in-between places of emotion. The first time I ever shared the Gospel with a friend on campus, I was afraid. In fact, I was so nervous and flustered that as I shared about Jesus’ life and his willingness to die for us, I skipped the part about the Resurrection altogether! But God was present and my friends were patient. We laughed together at my stumbling as I tried a second time to share the good news that Jesus conquered death. Despite my mistakes and nervousness, God still moved, and she decided to follow Jesus! I got to also experience the joy of praying with her and celebrating her decision with friends.

Now, in my 6th year on InterVarsity staff, I’ve had more spiritual conversations with strangers on campus and shared the gospel more times than I can remember, but I still get at least a little afraid every time. There’s other “and yets” in following Jesus for me too. I can be annoyed at my roommates, and yet love them. I can be overwhelmed by a new risk that God is inviting me into, and yet be excited. I can be doubtful that God will speak during my time in scripture and yet be open to him. I can be disappointed by a hard ministry season, but also grateful that I get to partner with God. In the middle of the places where I’m trying to move forward, even in my frustrations, fears, or doubts, Jesus can meet me.

This Easter season, I’m saddened and grieving wars and violence in the world and news from Gaza. I’m a bit overwhelmed by changes in my personal life and ministry challenges that have made focusing on the good news of Easter difficult. And yet, I’m hopeful. The good news of this passage, that Jesus has overcome death and that we get to be with him, is still really good news. Jesus still meets us in our fears and invites us, not into just a superficial celebration that covers up all of our other feelings, but into the deeper joy that comes with getting to know him and being on mission with him. However you’re feeling this Easter, whatever blend of emotions you may be feeling, may Jesus meet you and show you the hope and joy of the resurrection.

Taylor Straatmann is an InterVarsity Campus Minister currently serving at commuter and community colleges in the Boston area. You can support her ministry at