There are times when you know something makes no sense – that you can’t possibly – that there is absolutely no time – that it wouldn’t be up to your standards – that (fill in whatever excuse handed to God as though it would make any difference….).
That’s how I’m feeling about writing through this Advent season. Though I miss blogging dearly, writing for the last couple of years has been consumed with essays, research projects, and zillion-page finals, leaving little time to sleep, let alone find inspiration to write something that won’t even be graded! But I’ve learned that when a thought won’t leave, when it keeps pressing on my heart and finding its way into everything else I’m thinking about, it’s time to put aside what I “can’t possibly do”, surrender my excuses and start listening. So it is that I’m writing blog posts for each of the four Sundays of Advent.
Christmas! It is beauty and light and tradition and story and family and baking and gifts and shepherds and pine trees in the living room and presents that we may or may not be able to afford. But above all, Christmas is hope. And the reason I believe God has pressed me so to share these few hastily written words is because many are just not finding it. So many friends come to mind….too many….for whom Christmas this year holds little more than pain, and hope seems so very far away. It feels like a betrayal to see what we believe to be everyone else’s perfect everything….they seem happy and healthy and full of blessings with homes spilling over with family and friends, feasts and laughter.
They are full. We feel empty. And where is the hope in that?
So, this first post of 2018’s Advent season won’t be for everyone. It won’t even be for most. But it is for those who feel left out and lonely. It’s for those who are struggling to make sense of life in general, and for whom the holidays just seem to mock what they are already feeling (or not feeling.) So if you’re still reading….it’s just for you. ❤
There are some things I’ve learned about suffering. True, they are MY things, because no two situations and no two hearts are exactly the same, but there are things that are common to the path through pain and it’s so important to know….really know, that you aren’t alone.
- No one knows how you feel, even if they say they do
- It’s OK to feel whatever you are feeling, even if it’s anger at God
- It’s OK to be bewildered as to why God isn’t fixing everything as you know He could
- God holds every tear – not just those of sorrow, but of bitterness, envy and disappointment
- Even though you can’t see it……hope is here.
I remember one Christmas when I was about 9 or 10. All I really wanted was a Barbie (don’t judge.) I didn’t care if she was sporty or glamorous, I just wanted a Barbie to dress up in the evening gowns I had crafted out of old knee socks, so that was what I asked for that Christmas and hoped beyond all hope I would find her under the tree on Christmas morning. When it was my turn to open a present I went straight for the 12 inch tall, rectangular box that could only ever be a Barbie! With fluttery heart I unwrapped the paper, wondering if she would be blonde or brunette…..and what she was…..was a “Fashion Doll”. ’70’s girls know what I”m talking about. It was the doll that was the substitute for Barbie when you couldn’t afford a Barbie, usually purchased in drug stores. I tried to hide my disappointment but I’m sure it was all over my face. The Fashion Doll was the same proportions as a Barbie. She had clothes and tiny shoes that never stayed on and a purse to hook on her permanently outstretched hand. So close to the real thing. But she wasn’t a Barbie. She was a Fashion Doll.
When God saw the world that He so lovingly and passionately created suffering in ways that were never intended, He sent a healer. And hope was born. I love that from the very beginning Jesus was a revolutionary. He turned the world upside down and started the process of setting things right again. He started the process…..and that’s the tricky part, isn’t it? The nature of hope is that you can’t see the thing you’re hoping for, and when you are hurting it can seem to take a very, very long time for things to feel right again.
For many, maybe for you, this is a Fashion Doll Christmas. There are lights and trees and carols and pine trees in our living rooms and so much is almost like the things we remember and wish we had……almost. But it’s not. And it hurts. And it’s hard to find hope when we’re struggling to get through the painful days that used to hold so much joy.
But the thing about Jesus being the Healer who came to set things right again is that he gets it. He knows suffering. He knows despair. He knows loss. He knows us. And he’s come to not just offer hope but to be hope. I’ve prayed a thousand prayers that my heart could feel whole again, that there would be an end to the sorrow. That hasn’t happened yet, but what I’ve learned is this; my hope can’t be in things or people or plans, because those aren’t guaranteed to last. At best, they’re substitutes for the real thing. My truest and only hope is in the one who knows me best and loves me most, and I don’t have to wait for the perfect day when all is right again. Hope is here. Hope is here, for you and for me….for all the brokenness in this really big world.
At the beginning of this Advent season when we aren’t really sure what to anticipate, but we know that nothing feels the way we want it to be…..know that you aren’t alone. You are seen and held and dearly loved because Hope isn’t out there ahead somewhere.
Hope is here. He is here.
And that’s something to hold on to.
So much love,