The past several months have been marked by much suffering. The pain can be overwhelming. Substance abuse by those we love.
Every kind of loss imaginable from the dang virus.
A very scary diagnosis.
A debilitating disease that prevents normal life-function.
Mental illness that doctors are having trouble treating.
The excruciating long and threatening unknown. We find ourselves overwhelmed in the most ordinary of places. For me, it's often the kitchen (even when I'm not cutting onions). We cry... How long? How much? Why? Why right now?”
I love the holiday season. It's FULL (even during this very out-of-whack new normal). My tree is FULL of ornaments. My tummy is FULL of food (way too much of it, as my current waistline is showing). My neighborhood is FULL of lights (my favorite). My garage is FULL of empty Amazon boxes, gifts waiting to be wrapped and opened on Christmas morning in the family room.
And especially this year... My heart is FULL of gratitude wonder hope love
I'm desperate for them. I'm holding onto them with all my might. I like living in the FULL of good things part, the JOY part, not the CRYING part, the SAD part. The period leading up to Christmas morning is commonly known as Advent. It’s Advent right now. Advent speaks to the "howl of the not-yet," the pleading, the waiting, the yearning, the "crying in the kitchen" part. Advent is NOT Christmas morning. Advent speaks about and grieves broken places that are yet to be healed, questions that have no answer today, and yearning that is unfulfilled. Advent gives a glimpse of fruition at the end of a long season of waiting. Advent says there is suffering and it is real, palpable. But it also says there is hope, just as real and palpable. Advent says “don’t skip over the suffering. Don’t minimize the heartache. Sit in it, acknowledge it, and feel it.” This is not an easy place. I struggle with Advent. I do not sit with the grief, acknowledge and feel it. I skip right to Christmas morning, the happy place, where the answer is here and salvation has come, the "FULL of JOY in the family room" part. Skipping right to Christmas doesn’t work. It doesn’t take away the pain. It doesn’t make bad things not happen. It doesn’t bring true healing.
Advent is what brings healing. It's the place of truth that speaks to both heartache AND hope. It's the place of grace that speaks to both suffering AND a Savior. It's the place of life that speaks to both waiting AND receiving. Right now, there is more than a week until Christmas morning. I think I have some more "crying in the kitchen" work to do. Howling. Waiting. Questioning. Grieving.
The Not-Yet. Christmas morning will come soon enough. A baby will be here. A Savior will come. What is empty will be filled. Heartache will be healed. Yearning will be fulfilled. What is broken will be repaired. What we’ve lost will be found.