Parenthood (The Constant Return to Advent)
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
“Advent is for the ones who know longing.” (Sarah Bessey)
“Tis the Season.”
(Mom utters with eyes rolling while corralling child hyped up on the latest candy cane-induced sugar high) “Tis the Season.” (Dad pronounces with pride brimming watching high schooler dance in holiday pageant) “Tis the Season.” (Parents cry waiting for any hopeful news of their adult child living on the streets with addiction) “Tis the Season” is right! A season filled with wonder, joy, hope and generosity. A season also filled with waiting, anticipating, yearning, the pleading question “is it all going to be okay?” This is the howl of Advent. Christmas Morning is the answer to that question. The entire journey of parenting feels a lot like Advent. In fact, it starts with the womb, nine months of waiting, anticipating, yearning, the Question, “WILL THEY BE OKAY?” Our precious baby is born and for a moment when the doctor says, “All is well,” we burst with joy and wonder, waves of relief flooding our hearts as the question is answered. “Yes, they are going to be okay.” Advent quiets. Christmas Morning arrives. Until… We arrive home, alone with this human we are responsible to feed and care for, keep alive and healthy. We wake in the dark, tiptoe over to the bassinet and put our hands on their backs or our fingers under their teeny noses to see if they are breathing. The Question arises again, “are they going to be okay?” Advent returns. This constant returning to Advent, to the Question, permeates parenthood. WILL THEY BE OKAY??? Will they choke on that bagel? Will they make friends in their class? Will they learn to read? Will they score a goal? Will they have a seat in the lunchroom? Will they tell us the truth about that party? Will they drink and drive? Will they get into a good college? Will they struggle with loneliness? Will they meet someone who loves them? Will they make enough money? Will they be a good mom or dad? Will they have a happy marriage? WILL THEY BE OKAY??? Advent grieves broken places that are yet to be healed, questions that have no answer today and yearning that is unfulfilled. BUT (and it’s a big BUT), Advent also speaks the hope of an answer at the end of a long season of waiting, a Christmas Morning to come. But as parents (whether our child is 2, 22 or 42), we wait, always returning to the Question. Wondering if there is an answer to the burning doubt inside. WILL THEY BE OKAY? Really OKAY? Is there a Christmas Morning for us, for our children who we love so tenderly and so dearly? Not too long ago, I was in the middle of a long period of Advent with one of my kids, asking and asking the Question. It was nearly impossible to see any glimmer of hope on the horizon, near or distant. The waiting was long. I fell into a bleak and dreary place. The Question engulfed me until I asked an ever scarier one: WHAT IF THEY ARE NOT OKAY? What then? Just when I needed it (or more likely, when I was able to hear it), a gentle Voice spoke into my heart, clear as the air on a crisp Spring day. “Even if the unspeakable happens, even if their treasured life comes to an end, they will be with Me, enveloped in My unfathomable love. They will be perfectly safe.” Further words came after that I had so longed for: “THEY WILL BE OKAY! REALLY OKAY!” And then, when I thought it was over, the same kind Voice gave the answer to an even deeper question I had not even asked: “AND SO WILL YOU, MAMA.” The sigh of my soul was almost audible, as I collapsed into the knowing place that no matter what, even if all questions are answered with a NO, the Question is answered always with a YES. Advent always ends with Christmas Morning.