Thursday, December 28, 2017

Reflection: Advent

Still reflecting on Advent, on waiting, and the mystery and wonder of how and why the very thing you hope and pray for comes fulfilled in the most unlikely, unexpected, sometimes unwanted ways: in the form of a life transition, a new or ending relationship, a kind or difficult confrontation. So I'm thinking about all the hard circumstances or looming anxieties that hang out in my head, wondering if they're merely byproducts of things I asked for. Sometimes it makes me hesitant to hope, hesitant to ask, hesitant to let my needs and wants be met because I hate the disappointment of it coming differently than I've concocted in my head. I hate losing that sense of control, of "this isn't how it was supposed to be," or "this wasn't a part of the plan." I hate feeling like everything I ask for needs to come in form of a lesson.

You pray for peace, and instead are "gifted" with jolting circumstances that make you fight for peace. You pray for joy, and are "blessed" with heartbreaking situations that make joy feel unreachable. It's as if to ask Him for something, He makes it clear how much you don't have anything. Thanks God, that's the point of me asking, because I already feel like I have nothing. It's a difficult thing to reconcile, understanding the ways that God works, or even disposing our "understanding" of how God works. Is that the way God works? Is He really making things hard for me?

Or how much of me is ready to be surprised by grace? How much of me is ready to find goodness that I never worked for, or comfort that I didn't have to fight for, or affirmation that I never had to be perfect for? How much of me can accept new and different things as beautiful blessings? How much of me is ready to say "this is better than the plan" or "better than my finite imagination believed?" How much of my heart can believe that He has already gifted me with joy and peace and hope, and that maybe He isn't the one trying to take it away?

Perhaps I haven't rid myself fully of the lie that I am not enough, that I still need to work in order to have good things. Perhaps I am too quick to blame God for the difficult things instead of recognizing God in the good things. Perhaps I easily forget that there are other forces out to steal, kill, and destroy; that in the same way Herod, at the sound of a new King, sought out to kill the newborns, the enemy, at the sound of the new things planted in my soul, seeks out to steal it from me, and ruin the joy to be had. If only I could fully believe that goodness comes in grace. If only I could sit still in the wonder of a newborn swaddled in a dirty manger. If only I could understand that the worst things aren't a Father's punishment, and the messiest things could be hiding the most priceless treasures, and the best things can happen in the most unexpected ways--then maybe I'll finally have the insight to see all the ways hope is and has been fulfilled.

He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all--how will He not also, along with him, GRACIOUSLY give us all things?
- Romans 8:32 

"Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her"
 - Luke 1:45


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