Christmas in July: It’s Advent right now.

One morning while worshipping, the Lord gave me a vision of an Advent wreath. I didn’t quite know what it meant at the time, but I made a mental note to look into it later.

advent-wreathWell, the day went by as they do. That evening, I found myself reading “Bittersweet” by Shauna Niequist.  A friend recommended the read, since I’ve been through a rough season of transition.

I skimmed a chunk of it, until I came to a chapter that began with, “It’s Advent right now…”

That chapter may have been the only reason I needed to open the book. I’d forgotten about the vision the Lord showed me that morning, but the Holy Spirit did not!

As Shauna put it,

bittersweetThe season of Advent is about waiting, anticipating, yearning.

Advent is the question, the pleading, and Christmas is the answer to that question, the response to the howl. … 

Advent gives another option beyond false Christmas cheer. …

Advent says the baby is coming, but he isn’t here yet; that hope is on it’s way, but the yearning is still very real. … 

Advent allows us to tell the truth about what we’re grieving, without giving up on the gorgeous and extravagant promise of Christmas, the baby on it’s way.

Dealing with grief is something some people avoid. I’m not sure I had to grieve much during my younger years, but I’ve watched enough people avoid it that I knew I needed to cling to it and process through it as it happened. (I just didn’t know it would be a season of grieving, one, after another, after another situation.)

My world has sort of flipped over the past few months. My church and the ministry I work for have had large leadership changes. Some of my best friends were let go from their jobs, and others have left by their own choice. Family has moved to other states, and I’ve had to find a new roommate. I’ve never had to deal with divorce, but there’s a spirit of divorce all around me. It’s been heavy, disheartening, and disappointing.

I didn’t realize how much our hearts need to grieve change and people leaving, but I do now.

When the Holy Spirit planted a spirit of Advent within me, I began to walk out of the despair of grieving into the hope of expecting what he has next. It’s still a part of the grieving, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

This might not mean I’m ready for “christmas cheer,” but it does mean that my spirit has transitioned from heartbreak to hopeful.

In the middle of all the transition, the Lord told me, “don’t commit to anything this summer; take the summer to dream again.”

So, that’s what I’m doing. I thought about jumping on the first ticket out of my current situation, but that would be living out of a place of fear. And, Jesus told me to wait. So, instead, I’m choosing to feel. I’m choosing to feel every bit of it.

Throughout this season, I’ve felt lonely, hurt, disappointed, and heartbroken. I’ve felt a little lost and hopeless. I’ve felt misunderstood and felt a lack of trust in the people around me.

I found myself having to choose hope.

To choose to invest in people, even with the high likelihood that they will leave.
To choose to love the people who have disappointed me or my friends.
To choose to serve with excellence and integrity even when it’s hard.
To choose to let the spirit of advent have it’s way in me.

In choosing hope, I’ve found that in the midst of dissapointment, there are people who’ve come through for me, too. People who’ve let me cry out my sadness, let me grieve in whatever weird way I needed to in that moment, and truly made me feel loved and cared for. People who’ve wanted to help me knock a few things off my bucket list, just to spend time with me. This season is not as lonely as I might have once thought it was.

The Lord has asked me to wait, and so I wait expectantly with extreme longing for what He has promised.

I’m actually allowing myself to dream again. And in the midst of dreaming, I can finally thank God for the things I’ve learned through this continual season of transition.

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