Sitting at the kitchen table with the Little Dog on my lap. Homemade spaghetti sauce warming on the stove (thank you, freezer, for giving me fresh food in the winter!). Achingly beautiful Christmas music playing in the background, making me tear up at the slightest swell of instruments.
And I'm thinking about you.
All you wonderful people who visit this site. (um, and just a little bit about the Christmas cookies in the fridge.)You who welcome me into your home by reading my blog. (okay, I understand if that sounds a little creepy.) Who type comment love or friendly emails here and there, reminding me that my brothers and sisters live all over this big world but are so very beautifully connected.
So I wanted to say hello. And happy Advent.
You know I love this Church season of Advent. This invitation to slow down, seek quiet, trust in waiting, surrender to mystery. It wraps itself around my soul with gentle beckoning.
I responded this year to that call as with other years. I was ready to prepare Him room. I told my women's share group about my goals of finding Christ in the quiet, darkness, fasting, and waiting...just as our Advent program had focused on.
Somehow I pictured myself transformed by fervent prayer, calm solitude, overwhelming peace.
Instead these first two weeks have been more characterized by fervent grumbling, calm despair, and overwhelming uncertainty.
Don't get me wrong. I still love the season. I have my decorations up and my heart lights up when my Christmas tree does. I hosted a cookie swap with a dozen or so girlfriends. I sipped hot chocolate with two of them and crafted Christmas cards. I've absolutely relished a new Advent devotional recommended by a friend (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas).
But amidst all that, I find myself being selfish, discontent, lonely, and discouraged. I play the comparison game. I get frustrated at both jobs. I need a break from people but I get lonely at home. I choose the temporary over the eternal. I whine. I pout. I sin. It's not a pretty sight, soul-friends. And that further discourages me, because this isn't how I wanted my Advent to be. Old memories surface. Unfulfilled desires nudge. It hurts.
I'm not where I want to be. I'm not who I want to be.
Emmanuel. My heart cries out.
I keep learning.
Instead of the warmth of Advent wrapping around me, I'm feeling stripped of control and comfort.
It's cold. It's vulnerable. It's painful. It's messy. But hope draws near. Because these are the conditions of the Christmas stable. Of the uncomfortable Christmas journey to Bethlehem.
Messy manger. Messy heart.
I'm finding He chooses both to dwell within.
This Advent is not what I planned. But somehow He's using it. He's making it beautiful before I can see it.
Like Mary, He simply wants me to be open. To be. To look to Him with trust so that He can enter in and be born to the world through me. (From that amazing devotional I mentioned above!)
Maybe I'm not where I want to be or who I want to be. But I know this tender Savior enters into our messes. To transform us into who He wants us to be.
Maybe He's already here.