I’m going to be honest with you: I don’t feel like Christmas.
I adore Christmas, y’all. It’s my favorite time of year. Sometimes the rest of the year feels like a prelude or postlude to Christmas. I love lights and gifts (both giving and receiving) and family and the rest that is the holiday. The entire season is one of beauty and joy.
And yet —
Yet yesterday morning I watched my mom’s Christmas choir concert, which was beautiful — and I found myself resenting the entire morning.
Yet I was unable to wipe the grumpy look of disdain off my face.
Yet I cannot shake the feeling that something — maybe everything — is wrong.
Yet I’m crumbling into little bits and pieces around myself, while I stand outside and watch — like I’m in a dream, as I see bits of my outer walls flake off, revealing the ugliness inside my heart.
And I shrink away from myself in horror. Who is that? I hear myself ask, aghast, sickened with the sight of herself.
And then another voice, very much my own, and yet also mixed with the voice of God, says to me what I already knew: It’s you.
I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. I think we all hope for and expect the gorgeousness and peace of Christmas — and then, when our selfish selves rear their ugly heads, as they do all the other days and seasons of the year, we are disappointed, let down, even shocked. We want to be something else, something new, but we are, after all, human.
And to be human means to be constantly breaking, over and over and over again.
This year I’m trying to observe the beauty of Advent all around me. I’m not well familiar with the liturgical calendar, but I’d like to learn — and this is my first step. The Advent season is one of waiting — waiting for the arrival of Christmas, for the arrival of the child Who would be our deliverance. Who is our deliverance still.
My favorite Christmas song is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” — I keep listening to different versions on repeat (right now it’s The Piano Guys’ version — perfect). It’s always been my favorite, but this year, whenever I sing this song, I’m finding myself caught by the haunting melody and the heartbroken text. You can almost taste the longing.
Israel was waiting. There were four hundred years of silence between the sound of latest prophecy of their deliverance and the soft shudder of the world being quietly changed forever. They waited for those four hundred years like they had waited for the millennia before that.
Yes, Advent means waiting.
It means waiting for the promise we’ve been given.
It means waiting in the silence, when all you can hear is the freshly fallen snow and the sound of your own heart thudding in your ears.
It means waiting in the awkwardness, when nothing seems to really fit, to really click into place.
It means waiting when you’re breaking apart, in the middle of when everything seems to be going wrong.
Sometimes I feel like I have no more words to write, like I have nothing left to say. Every now and again I wonder if my voice will grow. I look at my black heart — there, on the freshly fallen snow — and see so many things I despise and want to change.
I feel like I’m just lying here in pieces, praying for a deliverance from myself. And then I turn around and live out the same broken habits, over and over again. The cycle continues.
And yet —
Attend ta délivrance. Attend to your Deliverance.
He is here.
We’ve been waiting. We’ve been waiting for so long. We’ve been begging for deliverance from ourselves and from our brokenness —
And here He is, to make something new from the pieces of our fragmented selves.
Advent means waiting. It means waiting in the middle of the awkwardness and the violence of myself, with nothing but my prayers and a promise that He is going to make me whole.
It means waiting in the trust of the One Who came to deliver me. It means knowing that He’s going to make everything alright.
He already has.
This Advent, this Christmas, may I live and trust in the silence. May I acknowledge my brokenness, all the while believing that I’m not stuck this way forever. May I wait patiently and hopefully for the day that all is made well.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.