I'm pleased to be a part of an Advent Series a friend is running. Most of my life, I have been waiting for God. It’s a spiritual waiting for miracles. Waiting for answers. Waiting for healing in me and in others that I love or have loved. Waiting to feel mercy. Waiting for peace. You can link to the rest of the post here.
I've tried to sit down and read all day. Instead I've placed phone calls to doctors, waited impatiently for return calls from nurses about supplements and medication’s interactions, and run twice to pharmacy and grocery store. And, on it goes. One child threw up this morning. Another is dealing with headaches of the magnitude that you or I would be in bed – a 9 on a scale of 1 -10. Children should not have to suffer so and as I deal with the litany of doctors, I am trying to be the advocate for the whole person who is my child. And be gracious. I ate my third meal in as many days and just for a minute sipped ginger ale and will write this, Though I’m not technically sick (Moms don’t do that) I am unwell. The headaches and body aches with this particular virus are awful. Eating feels like an X sport. I've been trying to read all day and life keeps getting in the way. As the holidays come rushing, with the “extra” everything on the calendar, this small task will only become more difficult – there will be concerts, school projects, plays, shopping, and parties,there will be more of everything. And I've tried to slow down and read because I know its important to make IT stop.
It’s essential, I think, to get up even earlier or stay up little later, just to BE.We need it. To read that something, or to pray a little, or to write a poem or whatever we do "to stretch the canvas of our imagination". We need to listen to meaningful music or place a phone call to an important friend or stop and say I love you. To write that letter of appreciation to someone that you perhaps wanted to do at Thanksgiving but didn't get around to. It’s important to do those things in a whirlwind life full of obligations and duty, or service to others, or personal illness, or whatever our life entails. It’s essential to make it all stop, especially during December to slow, and celebrate. Advent is about waiting – anticipating, leaning in, listening, and keening toward the Holy One. This takes intention. All day, I've been trying to start a small little book by Enuma Okoro, Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent. And finally, I have begun. In the introduction she reminds us what it means to cultivate patience. We walk along side Zechariah and Elizabeth and learn from them. In Silence, she says: “The hard work of Advent reflection and waiting is mingled with the gift of time and space to dream new dreams, to bathe in pools of hope, and to stretch the canvas of our imagination wide enough for God to paint God’s own visions for our lives.” What one thing are you trying to do this holiday season to slow yourself down, reflect and do the holy work of waiting? How will you wait? Will you allow the Holy One to paint a new vision for your life? Melody Advert: To purchase this book in Kindle or print, go here.
That was the question, an aching appeal, a cry of a sad heart.
They question everything.
They take up space and create messes.
Interrupt. They wreck things that once were beautiful.
Children don’t deserve our love.
Why do I love you, I answered? Because you are my child. You were a gift to me and I think you are perfect. Nothing you ever do will change that because you are mine. My lovely child. It’s unconditional. Do you know what that means? That you can’t earn it. And you can’t lose it. I love you.
And still, a little later, she returns. She wants the reassurance. The reasons that I love her because she feels so utterly unworthy.
I am often asking God why do you love me? What can I do to earn or deserve your love?
And God says …
Why do I love you? Because you are my child. You were a gift to me and I think you are perfect. Nothing you ever do will change that because you are mine. My lovely child, beloved. It’s unconditional. Do you know what that means? That you can’t earn it and you can’t lose it.
I love you.
That’s why we celebrate the birth of Jesus because of what he did for you and me.
I must apologize in advance for this essay. I could delete it, I almost did. Perhaps I still shall.
I stopped dreaming. I realized this as I sat in church yesterday.
It’s hard to feel hopeful when you no longer dream. What you conceived for your life is not this, when you look around and hate who you have become.
[It takes me a long time to learn things. I am hard-headed. ]
Perhaps, it is too much to ask? I just wanted to be significant. I imagined that I would do something amazing with my life — all those years of working on Urbana conventions, I felt I was doing something important. Now what?
Is this it?
I am a mother and not that good at it, seemingly always failing my children, a wife which I will never write about, a terrible homemaker, yes I mean lazy and bad at it, an infrequent friend and missing sister, ungrateful daughter who just feels forgotten, a hobbyist-at-best photographer and a sometimes I put words together on the page and call myself a writer … Even this blog is simply an exercise in navel gazing. And here I go again.
My fight with my maker is almost daily – my depression or remission, anxiety seems constant, recovery from alcoholism, battling with the isolation, feeling only loneliness.
I know that I am foremost an ingrate. I don’t need reminders. I have so much! Four beautiful children, a home and husband and all I can think is, … I thought I would be something, more. I put these words here for what?
I feel empty. I feel useless. What purpose does my life serve? Yes, I am looking for evidence of good, any good that I do, and hope.
God is faithful to his promises. What are they, his promises? What has God promised?
I’ve already lost whatever I heard in the sermon yesterday.
He said “God’s results will look different than what we dream or imagine, what we prescribe for ourselves. The book of Isaiah is filled with a promise that wasn’t fulfilled for 700 years. God is not predictable but he is faithful. “
I am filled with longing — sick with it. Perhaps this too is the waiting of Advent.
At times, we wait just for hope. We know we are ungrateful. We know we are useless to Him. He doesn’t need us.
We are simply empty and waiting.
“In this harsh world, draw your breath in pain to tell my story.” — Hamlet
I am a reformed control freak. By reformed I suppose I mean that I know I
am, was, can be a controlling person who wants things just so. Christmas is a perfect example of what really gets my ire up. OK, once again I’m showing what a wreck I am. Yesterday I found myself at the hardware store ready to purchase lights for the house. Yes, outside lights. Just that is progress for me, twenty years it took. Colored lights and all the glitter and s*** that we’re supposed to buy for this holiday, and Halloween, and all the other supposed “Hallmark Holy Days” — Well I rebel.
Yes, I have been told that I am “no fun” when it comes to decorations at holidays of any kind. I don’t do ghosts in the trees at Halloween. I don’t do little plastic hearts on the windows on Valentine’s day. And I’ve felt sort of righteous in my snootiness.
Most especially at Christmas. From the year
I had my first tree we had our first tree, I have tried to control it. My need for control being off the charts I would allow no colored lights, only clear ones. No home-made ornaments, only accepting matching ones with a theme on my tree.
((Sigh)). I am reformed because we do have home made ornaments. And this year, after eighteen years of marriage, I have decided that it would be “festive” and “fun” to have lights on the house outside for all the world to see in their glorious tackiness I mean isn’t really all about the kids? And their imaginations?
And this didn’t help. Driving home the other night, I heard my ten-year old son counting out loud. When asked, he said, he was counting the number of people on our street that had “Christmas spirit.”
I knew this was the year. I was going to get some spirit, let go and lighten up and have a little fun. Who cares if the house is garish if it makes kids happy? Screw Martha Stewart. And so I found myself at the hardware store putting down the lovely-green-genuine-pine-wreath-that-matches-my-house, for the front door. And buying a bright red, bow that lights up. And colored lights. (Picture forthcoming.) Yes, I am a reformed control freak.
This isn’t about me. This year for Christmas I’m giving everyone a decidedly much better time.
Isn’t everyone controlling at Christmas, with expectations ramped up to 110% for perfection!?
In all honesty Christmas never lives up to expectations because it isn’t about us and whatever experiences we can conjure up.
It’s about a babe born to a girl, quite unexpectedly and miraculously, who grew up to give his life up for me. And you.