It was the Monday after Thanksgiving. Though a week later than planned, finally the Christmas music was queued as giant tubs of green and red were pulled from storage. The nostalgia of song and decorations filled the rooms, weaving its way through the surround sound and out of bins until it perforated the fragile film around my heart.
I danced while cleaning oil lamps to the tune of “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” Laughed at memories of the kids over the years. Then cried when faced with the decision to keep or toss our late pup’s toys, still sitting by the chaise, before the grandpups come for the holiday. More than seven months have passed since he left us. It was time.
In addition, laying the chew-stained plush animals and half eaten Nylabones beside the trash let loose another ache I kept trying to push down: I want another dog. Something soft and sweet to hold on the long, lonely days. A furry face to nuzzle and cute puppy paws to cuddle up close. For something playful to remind me to play.
The ache is real and deep.
Yet, I’m not ready. Not for 24/7 care and training.
From that awareness, another longing bubbled up through the perforation. The longing to be fully well. Poignant and evocative melodies of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” released my desire to be freed from the captivity of illness. For a week and a half I experienced significant progress, only to be hurled backwards on this Monday of cleaning and Christmas decorating. To the point my body and my mind shut down completely, forcing me to walk away. So, my husband decorated the tree without me. A first. It was sad to see he almost finished, but I had nothing left to give.
In addition, dusting off photographs of my grandparents and mother-in-love brought smiles and tears. Christmas with them meant the best food and the best love. It seemed they made time stop as they had all the time in the world just for us. Those memories made me keenly aware of both grief and hope – the hope to sit with them again where time will neither separate nor constrain us.
Lastly, a deeper, darker place was pierced.
Lyrics billowing through of children needing protecting, a mama dying, and for God to bless all the dear children in His tender care forced the question of “why?” I have asked it for a couple years now with the hope of healing and for Truth to set me free. Why wasn’t I protected from the perpetrators who stole my innocence? Why did two of our girls have to endure such a tragic accident? Evil ravishes, and makes me ache from a depth of pain I wish were never there.
Like the little drummer boy in the Christmas song, I feel I have no gift fit for a King. I am caught between the tension of the now and the not yet. There, I ask God:
- How can I have so much healing and wisdom, yet be in great need for so much more healing and wisdom?
- How can I be happy and dancing one half of the day, yet unable to function the next half?
- How can I live with the ache for a pet to love, believing a furry face is good therapy, while realizing it is not yet to be?
- How do I hold the hope to hear my grandparents’ voices again, yet know I must wait?
There, Jesus answers,
“Invite Me into the tension.”
It is the embodiment of Advent. The word that literally means “coming.” Jesus wants to come. He will come. He does not shirk our questions. Nor does He diminish our pain. Diminishment walks away. But Jesus comes close, right into the tension. Where the reality of our now awakens an ache for the not yet. And we wait.
Waiting seems oh so painful. But what if the waiting is meant to swell the ache? And what if the ache is meant to remind us that something good is coming? SomeOne good is coming. What if that reminder brings us to a greater question?
What is it that you really want?
Not the puppy, or the house. Not the money or even the health. None of those things are wrong to desire. Nor are they necessarily out of reach. But our ache is there to reveal a deeper longing this world cannot satisfy. Beneath it begs a different question.
Are you wanting peace? Security? Simplicity? A Love that is unhindered, unconstrained? Comfort?This first week of Advent is the perforation. Let it break open your deepest longings. Ask God to awaken your slumbering heart where the pain of this world has put it to sleep. Then, invite Jesus to come. Click To Tweet
Lean in. Wait until you hear His heartbeat. Feel it beating for you.
- Take some time to journal your aches.
- List the places where you feel the tension of the “now” and the “not yet.”
- Answer the question, “What is it that your heart really wants?”
- Take time to pray. Ask Jesus to come.
- Write down anything He speaks or reveals.
- If you find yourself in a period of waiting, write down what the waiting feels like.
Feel free to share some of your responses in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.