I sit in my bathrobe and write, ignoring cooking breakfast and little voices, if only for a minute. Because writing helps bring me back to myself, tells me who I am and what I’m good at. And it’s good to have something that is just yours. Something you can tuck into the pocket of your day and pull it out as needed.
The reminders to pay bills pop up on my phone, but I ignore them. My eyelids are still heavy from the lack of sleep as I wait for coffee to revive me. And I’m realizing that I’m turning to all sorts of things to give me life, except the one thing I know that will restore my soul.
Because it’s so much easier to reach for coffee, or sugar, or sleep, or a workout, or healthy foods to give me life. They promise as much. Or I reach out for a listening ear, a caring husband, a night out. All very good things, but not things that bring living water to my parched self.
So this Advent, I’m promising to lean in to the daily hard, to not numb it. The hard of not being seen or appreciated like I think I should be. Not reaching for validation in food, or friends, or the shopping and Christmas lights that promise to bring magic to my dailyness.
Honestly, I have this perfect image of what Advent should look like. Crafts and coloring and hot cocoa and the scent of pine trees. The family gathered around the Bible and singing carols. Hot cooked breakfasts and cozy blankets and books and tea and togetherness. But when I begin to focus on these things as the goal, we end up in tears and frustration and we don’t really see each other. I end up collapsing under the weight of perfection and I feel like a failure because I’m not creating the proper “memories,” whatever that’s supposed to mean.
Maybe you’re like me. Maybe you, too, feel the weight of the season without the joy. Maybe you’re also collapsing under the weight of perfection. Maybe you just see a mounting to-do list of all the ways that you should be creating something magical for your kids. Maybe you’re burdened by the Elf on the Shelf or the Jesse Tree or something which just seems like too much work. And resentment and fear and failure builds up.
I’m hear to tell you that I get it. Join the club, sister.
But the beauty of Advent is that God comes near. He’s near to the girl who is maligned because she’s pregnant out of wedlock. He’s near to poor, blue-collar workers who work on the edges of the city, tending sheep. He’s near even in the backwoods town of Bethlehem. And if he’s near to those people and in those places, He’s near to you now. He’s near when you’re overwhelmed. Stressed out. Anxious about everything that needs doing.
The trees, the lights, the cocoa — they’re great, but ultimately they’re just things. Just things to point us to the ultimate reality of God coming near to our brokenness. This Advent I’m planning to really deal with the hard bits and to make it a practice to bring those hard things where I’ll finally be satisfied. To a God who showers us with mercy and walks with us, and so can say, “Yeah, I get it.” This Advent, I hope you, too, will lean in with me. Will you?