He's in the Waiting

I've been told there are two types of people in the world; those who decorate for Christmas before December, and those who do not.  For years I prided myself in being a member of the latter group, exercising self-discipline by banning all decorations, music, and anything that hinted at Christmas until it was at-least after Thanksgiving.

However, this year I changed sides and began decorating and listening to music a week before turkey-day.  I told my husband I wanted to be sick of Christmas this year.  Too often, we get to the end of December feeling like the season and its festivities went too fast, and this year I wanted to saturate in it all to the point where I would be ready for January.

For myself, and for a lot of people I know, the Christmas season brings with it a host of traditions, gatherings, festivities, and reasons to be with the people you love.  It brings back fond childhood memories, excitement buzzing in the air as we seek to serve others extra by gift giving, meal sharing, and celebration.  We dive into Christmas with lots of good-feelings, excited for an excuse to celebrate the ways in which we worked hard all year.

But there are times where I wonder if its possible to over-celebrate or over-indulge in celebration.  Is there something meaningful and purposeful that we miss when we fully dive into this season without experiencing longing and waiting?

Advent, in its definition, points to something that is coming, but that is not yet.  It lends itself to preparation and hope; a complex and beautiful balance of remembrance and anticipation.  And while I've always been drawn to the season of advent, being 40+ weeks pregnant has allowed me to understand the terms "longing" and "waiting" with a whole new lens.

Waiting has caused me to realize just how much I have crafted a life around instant gratification.  Instant messaging, next-day shipping, meals that are completed in 30-minutes or less.  If it takes significant time, I'm usually not into it.  I like advancement, productivity and a life that feels like it is moving forward (though most of the time I have no idea where we are headed) and I get totally freaked out by the possibility of remaining stagnant and complacent.  

However, you can always notice a difference in the experience when you compare immediate to gradual.  Meals that take all day to marinate and simmer (can you tell I'm always thinking of food), or long-awaited mail, or that first big purchase made all from the hard work of earning and saving.  The reward after the longing is so sweet.  Christmas is for feasting, but advent is for craving and you can't fully experience the value of the one without the other.  In this "season" of longing, for a baby to arrive, for the adjustment of a new "normal", for time to get to know this sweet girl, nothing has allowed me understand this concept more. 

Regardless of what you are waiting for, whether it be the mending of a broken relationship, a change in your job, an addition to your family, or however you are longing for God show-up, may the next few weeks be filled with holy inconveniences that allow each of our souls to crave more deeply, making the upcoming celebration of Christmas all the richer.  

Ashley Sider