Advent for me, is the celebration of hope and peace that transcends my circumstances.
It exists, and not because everything is sunshine and roses.
This year, for example I don't have a car. You read that right. We have our van but I sold my car this past summer and was fully intending to buy another but then our daughter and son-in-law moved in with the kids for a few months while they house hunted (in this dreadful market) and I thought, "Well I don't even need one right now, because she's here with hers." They closed on their house in November and we went on vacation and then it was Thanksgiving and then the holidays were in full swing. After the first of the year is the plan, because it really can wait.
It's no big deal to me. Many times in our efforts to live the life we wanted and because it wasn't financially feasible, we chose to be a single car household. Plenty of people find themselves in this circumstance and for them it's not temporary. It's not a choice.
I'm still fighting off pneumonia and chronic bronchitis from long-haul Covid. I'm not "sick - sick". I've been sick. Really sick. A couple years back I was hospitalized with pneumonia and didn't come home until Christmas Eve. So being less than 100% doesn't really ping on my radar much. Plenty of people will spend Christmas in the hospital. Plenty of people are fighting illnesses that won't improve.
My father passed away this summer and it's left me with a lot to unpack emotionally. I am not alone in experiencing loss. We all do.
It's been a stressful year in many ways but I have to tell you after deployments, a war, a hurricane, an MS diagnosis, miscarriage after miscarriage, so many moves and being so sick - it's got to get pretty bad to move the needle on my Richter Scale. Yesterday I got the news that my sweet sister-in-law, mother to my little 6 yr old nephew had passed away suddenly. Though they were divorced this year my love for her as a sister and as a mother to this precious boy I love means it's a loss. But to her own mother, to her child, the loss is of course, so much worse.
Like most people I could rattle off lots of other things nipping at my heels. They matter,
But during this season, perspective is everything. And even when things have been so much worse, I just can't bring myself to surrender to despair. I have never been able to give in to despair. Not 29 years ago when I was a very poor single mom, not when we struggled financially, not the year we had lost everything to a hurricane and not even during the years we lost children in pregnancy. I felt the sorrow and the anger but Advent is my season of peace and hope.
Even when my heart is weary with grief. Weary from traveling a broken, sorrowful road I cannot seem to escape, Christ is coming. He came and He will come again and that changes my life, it changes my perspective.
Because He came I have hope in life everlasting. I have hope in a life that goes beyond the temporal. Beyond the Church Militant (the whole body of living Christian believers). I will shed pain, suffering, betrayal - I will conquer death because He was born, suffered, died and rose again. He came and took my sin and restored to me the opportunity to be with God forever. To be with those I love forever, all of my family.
I cling to that hope. Some years it felt like my peace and hope hung by a frayed, narrow thread but I have never and will never let it go.
What is peace if it is rooted in circumstance? The peace I have sought my entire life is to feel in my soul as if I am standing on solid rock regardless of what swirls around me.
Not a platitude of happiness. Not a facade. Rather a soul that can feel all the hardest feelings and not surrender everything to them. I can't give in to despair, it will swallow me whole and that is never God's plan for our life. That's a life without hope.
If I have Christ, I have hope.
And I have Christ. I hope this Advent the journey you are on is one that begins at a manger and ends at the Cross. Or maybe it begins at the Cross. Seek him. Seek the peace and hope that ONLY exists in Him. If your heart is wrung out, if you are on your knees battered and lost, there is hope. This life is not all there is. Do not hang your hope on this world. He desires for you life everlasting. It's why He came. He came for you. I wish you the peace of our Lord this Christmas and every day. If you need help finding your way to Him; If you need prayer, love, an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on please know you can always reach out to me.