Making Room For Christmas
It was about a year ago that I was sitting in my car, eating my Culver’s value basket and tuning into a new podcast. The focus of the podcast was the waiting of Advent and the faithfulness of God. The words and experiences of those being interviewed were beautiful and heavy and the reminder that this season symbolizes a waiting and longing and a time when God meets us at our deepest need.
To be honest, I didn’t grow up in a home that celebrated Advent officially. We didn’t have an advent wreath with the candles. We didn’t really read the Christmas story leading up to the birth of Jesus. We were more about the gifts than about making room.
We came by it honestly. My mom and I are both people whose love language is gifts. We love to give good gifts and we love to receive good gifts. But somewhere along the way, I lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas and slowing down long enough to make room in my heart for Christmas.
Which brings me to this year. My tree broke a couple of years ago and I haven’t replaced it. In the place where the tree usually goes, I have put an old brown recliner which is broken and I need to get rid of. All that to say we’re low on decorations and making room for Christmas.
If I’m honest, I don’t want Christmas to be about decorations or presents or food. Don’t get me wrong…because I LOVE all those things…especially the food! But Advent and Christmas have so much more impact when we make room for Jesus to meet us in our crazy, messy life.
Lessons from the very first Advent
The fact is that first advent was about waiting. Israel, the people of God, had not heard from God is over 400 years. No prophets declaring. No miraculous signs. No acts of God in the world around them. Instead, they were under Roman rule. Wondering if God still considered them His people and if He still wanted to make good on His promise for a Messiah.
In the midst of a mess on their hands, the people of God waited for Jesus. They waited for God to intervene. They were waiting for a change. For something to be different. To know that God would be faithful even when it felt like He wasn’t. Sound familiar?
What got me about that podcast last year, is what gets each of us when we really get Advent. You and I may be waiting for some things. We may be waiting for a relationship to be reconciled. Or healing for ourselves or someone we love. We may be waiting for a job or financial provision. Maybe we thought we’d be married by now or our kids would come back home or even to God. We may be waiting for God to come and stand in the middle of our mess.
Whatever you are waiting for, God is faithful to show up.
He is faithful to show up when we least expect it. He’s faithful to show up when we are faithless. He is faithful to show up in unconventional ways that surprise us with his love and his grace.
Our job? Trust. Trust Him to be working when it feels like He’s not. Remember that He’s been faithful before and His Word promises that He is faithful even now. Choose to trust even when we’re waiting.
Making Room for Waiting
I know what you’re thinking. What does all this have to do with making room for Christmas? Waiting is part of the package. It was part of the package that first Christmas and it’s part of the package for us.
Making room for waiting and advent isn’t about tapping our watch and reminding God that it seems like He’s late this time. Making room for waiting is just that. Choosing to trust. Choosing to lean in and accept the waiting as God’s place for you today. Choosing to talk to God about your own waiting instead of venting to others. Choosing to love God more than you love the thing you’re waiting for.
Making Room for Christmas
Advent ends eventually. With the birth of a baby. With a declaration of God with us. And your waiting? And my waiting? That ends too. With God showing up in our everyday lives. Sometimes He gives us the gift of what we’ve been waiting for. But many times, He gives us the gift of a changed heart.
I hosted a group coaching workshop on Saturday focused on Celebrating Joy. In my group coaching workshops, I walk our community of women through several coaching tools designed to help them identify where they are at, where they would like to be, and the baby steps they can start taking to get there.
During last Saturday’s session, I realized a few things about myself. In my rush to get things done and get on to the next things on the list (in my head) that I have to do, I’ve been skimping. Skimping on my time with God. Skimping on time for resting and recharging. Skimping on quality time with my people.
Making room for Christmas is all about not skimping. It’s about slowing down. It’s about inviting God into your everyday moments and ordinary places. It’s about choosing experiences over things. And choosing to love the life you are already living.
One last thing. Actually two. One, this blog post ended up longer than I thought it would be. I mean there’s so much to say. Especially when I’ve left myself one post to do it in.
Two, my pastor is leading us through this series called Missing Christmas. When he first told me about the idea, I was all YES and LET’S DO IT! Why? I don’t know about you, but so many years, I get to the end of Christmas without savoring the moments. How many of us need the reminder that we don’t need to miss Christmas?
Here’s the antidote for missing Christmas. Give presence and not just presents. Yes, the presents under the tree are fun. But to savor Advent, and the waiting, and God showing up, we must embrace presence. Being present with God - creating a space for us to meet with Him in our waiting. Presence for myself. Choosing self care instead of running myself ragged which includes declaring what’s we’ve done good enough. Being present with our people by choosing experiences over things.
At the end of it all, I want the times that I am waiting and longing for God to show up to matter. And I want those moments when He does show up in my life to matter. And we do all of that by slowing down, choosing to lean in and trust Him no matter what our Advent looks like.
Hey friend! I’d love to hear from you! What has helped you celebrate Advent with meaning this year or in years past? Comment here!