Waiting. With love,

The weeks that lead up to Christmas are always interesting. If you work, it’s likely your office will be winding down. People will complain of “vacation mode”, and burnout. People will be irritable, and impatient, or else distant, and disconnected. Regardless of whether you’re in a Christian context or not, year end does bring a wistful desire for rest. It’s ironic because, for Christians, this time is meant to herald the birth of our Savior. And even if you might not be [Christian], year-end still heralds new beginnings and new life. So why do we get so bogged down in the negatives before this great thing takes place?

If you think I’m going to get preachy with you right off the bat. Don’t worry. I hear you. In fact, I am you. I am the person who is irate, negative, and impatient. In the last few weeks, I’ve been having the blues more and more often. Tired from full-time work and full-time motherhood, and suffering something like “Imposter Syndrome”* from listening too keenly to my own doubts and insecurities. I’ve been allowing myself to feel overwhelmed and ineffective over the amount of work still waiting to be accomplished even whilst feeling that “vacation mode” creeping in.

However, thanks to the Psalms, support from my loving husband, family, and friends, and the refreshing presence of my 11-month-old son, I have recently been reminded of 2 helpful truths to cling to this season. More important than “vacation mode,” stronger than burnout, better than the holiday parties and food (haha) waiting at the end of this leg of the race…here are these truths:

  1. There is love and discipline in the waiting. Advent is a season of waiting, and it is good to be present in that waiting. Not to be so focused on the stresses of yesterday, or how far away tomorrow feels, but instead dwell more on the blessing of the moment, and the value in the waiting. That this moment will lead to the next, and there there is no other moment just like it. Last year, during a similarly challenging moment right before Christmas, I penned a blog entry called Wacht op jou vader (wait for your father). Here’s an excerpt:
    • As I opened up my Bible app to get further caught up on my daily devotions, I stumbled upon a Countdown to Christmas devotional series. It’s called Waiting Here for You (an Advent Devotional by Louis Giglio with roots in this book), and somehow stood out to me on the homepage (likely because of its title, which reminds me of one of my favorite Martin Smith songs). It must really have been a direct blessing from God, because upon opening up the first page of content, I was immediately confronted by this:

      …While God rarely comes at our appointed time, He always comes at the right time. All of us are waiting on something, often wondering if God has forgotten us. In your waiting, let the birth of Christ encourage you. Just because God hasn’t come through (as far as you can see), it doesn’t mean He has abandoned you. To Him a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day. This very minute He’s working for His glory and for your good…

  2. Preparation is as much about action as it is about rest. Often, our stress during this season comes from “prep stress”: wrapping up work, to wrapping up presents, from planning holiday parties and travels, to planning for work/budgets/resolutions in the coming year. We get lost in the action of preparation, but we forget to rest. And how could we possibly have the energy for a good time without rest? Potential Energy is energy possessed by an object at rest but in position to move (like a ball at the top of a slope, poised to roll down, and up and into the sky). For us to have enough strength to make the most of holiday festivities, we can’t burn ourselves out in the preparation. We need to take time to rest as well. To take stock of our position, to relax and store up energy for the festivities. This should hold true especially for Christians, who not only are preparing for a party, but are preparing for the birth of the Messiah! Would you not want to slow your mind, and focus on the delicious anticipation that leads up to meeting your Savior?

So, yes, perhaps due to situations beyond our control we are busy, and tired, maybe even burnt out. But the reality that in no time at all there will be a massive celebration of life and thanksgiving should be a reminder to rejoice, count blessings, take stock even today. To be disciplined about sleeping well, eating healthily, and being kind to ourselves even if it just means taking 5 minute breaks between meetings to pray/meditate/recenter, or 20 minutes before bed to disconnect from technology and read a book. This is our opportunity to wait in joyful anticipation, instead of overwhelmed impatience. To rest and store up energy, instead of waste our strength on bitterness/impatience/negativity. While everyday is a special day, this season always serves as a reminder to look back at the year and count blessings, rejoice in the moment, share the good, process the bad, reach out, open our homes, and prepare our hearts. Though we are called to these not just during Advent, but during all seasons of our lives, let’s take the opportunities brought about by the holidays and Christ’s coming, to be kind, truthful, loving, grateful, and patient. 2016 was a tough one for a lot of people, but together let’s end it on a high note. And with that, I leave you this verse:

patience

 

*Note: Imposter Syndrome is “a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”

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