Advent is one of my favorite times of year, because it teaches this weak heart of mine to be strong, strong in the waiting, strong in the expectancy, strong in the hope of what the Messiah is doing. He’s a master storyteller, a patient farmer, a wise father. He knows that the outcome of his efforts often takes time, and he is willing to put in the time to cultivate the outcome he had dreamed of. Advent teaches me not to make assumptions, but to wait in a place of present expectancy for what the Messiah will do next.
My heart has been struggling with this. Living in expectancy can feel very precarious. Jesus is teaching me new levels of trust, new degrees of intimacy, new ways to share the same headspace and heart-space with him. It’s so new, that I feel unready to share this journey. For now, this Advent season, its time to tuck in and give God my full attention. I’ve learned that the lessons he wants me to share, he will lead me to share after he and I have sat with them for a while in the secret place, after they have taken root and become a treasured practice in my life. So while the Messiah is busy teaching me new lessons amid the glow of Christmas trees this year, those lessons will, for now, remain in the secret intimate space between he and I.
But what I can share are the lessons I learned last Christmas–my first Christmas without Ethan, my first Christmas in my new home all alone.
I moved in December 1st, 2017 and it was the strangest thing. I knew without a doubt that this new home was a gift from God, but that didn’t make it an easy transition to move into a place all alone. I cried and celebrated my way into my new home in such a profound combination of thankfulness, hope, fear, and sorrow. I was afraid of going it alone. I was grieving that this home was not being christened with Ethan by my side sharing this space with me. But I was also thankful that God was giving me this gift and that we would have so much uninterrupted time just the two of us. And I was full of hope for the culture of heaven to become obvious in my new home, to feast with friends, to make music, to laugh, to play, to share life and heart here. I was afraid that it was horrible timing to move into a place all my own on December 1st when this was to be my first Christmas without Ethan, but it wasn’t horrible. I kept saying to the LORD over and over again through the tears as I packed to move, “I’m only going if you’ll be there too.” And over and over again He promised that He would be there, waiting to spend time with me in greater degrees of life than I had yet known. And He was and is. I love Him so much. Never once, never once has he left me on my own.
And so, without further ado, I am honored to share with you another advent post I have had the privilege of writing for our church blog this Christmas season. It is called What I Found in the Messiah’s Eyes: Overcoming Depression at Christmas, and it is my personal story of how Jesus rescued my heart from depression that first year without Ethan. I know we all have different stories, some of yours are even harder to bear than mine, but the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob wants to be the God of me and you too. So I pray that, though our stories may be different, your heart will be kindled toward the heart of the Messiah through this story of God at work in the life of one of his children.
Merry Christmas Friends!