Advent is a period of waiting, reflection, and anticipation. It is stillness between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is where you hope for things to come with expectations and presumptions but aren't quite sure what fulfillment will look like or who will be there to celebrate with you.
Maybe you fell stuck in a perpetual Advent. You might be waiting for a relationship to improve or begin, for kids to grow, convert, or be conceived, for that job offer to come through or move to be finalized, for an addiction to end or injury to be healed, for a loved one to show he cares about you or the Lord, for a loved one to die though you feel intense guilt and would never admit that aloud. You may be waiting for a pandemic to magically vanish or for your country to wake up.
There are as many things to wait for as there are people waiting; yet waiting is so difficult!
It seems waiting today is more difficult than it was in generations past. In a world of knowledge at our finger tips, electronic maps that prevent us from stumbling across that quaint little side street, and instant gratification (or depletion) in the form of likes and retweets, waiting tests our patience!
What We Do With Our Wait is Important
Waiting isn't something new, but our secular way of looking at waiting impacts what we do with our time and our eventual outcomes. To usher in the best, we need to change our thinking. We need to see ourselves as beloved, surrendered souls rather than as hapless victims. We need to look at desire stirred into our wait as directing our eternal mission rather than needing immediate correction.
In the wait, we must move.
Mother Mary embraced the magnitude of her wait while she prepared for her trip to Bethlehem. Saint Joseph embraced the responsibility of his wait while he prepared to be the earthly father of his Lord and son. The holy couple waited through preparation.
Previous generations of Americans did the same.
Think of Sarah Josepha Hale who spent decades petitioning for women's education and the abolition of slavery. Think of her unfailing, almost 40 year letter writing campaign seeking a national day of giving thanks to God. Think of how God's Grace brought her letter to the hands of President Abraham Lincoln shortly after Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Sarah waited through action.
History shows, God may call us to wait, but He does not call us to stop.
10 Ways to Grow While You Wait
The call to Be Still is not the same as a call to Be Stopped. Waiting should be done enthusiastically and energetically. We must understand that time does not heal all wounds, but what we do with our time beuatifies scars. We must understand that, just as children grow when they sleep, we grow when we wait and choose to rise in anticipation. Fortunately, God gives many opportunities to embrace grow in various areas.
- Humility - God uses our wait to remind us we only control our responses. While waiting, we can embrace changes He brings in us and that He never stops working in others. While we may feel ready for the next step, other souls may need more work. Work on yourself while He prepares.
- Physically - Use this period to begin a challenging workout routine. Get outside every day and breath in His creation. Track and adjust sleep patterns, water intake, and nutrition. Know yourself and where you need to make adjustments.
- Spiritually - Don't want to rush out of your wait because you don't recognize God's Voice. Recognize that sometimes Being Still actually does mean Being Stopped. Read the Bible and journal each day. Learn Scriptural meditation and deep breathing techniques. Align your spirit with the Breath of God. Pray. Sit in Silence. Invite God in. Listen to what He says or just enjoy silent companionship for a few minutes every day. Patiently learn and discern.
- Emotionally - Keep a daily written gratitude journal. Fill an entire page or choose one topic and dig deep. Write about Blessings that come from each day's struggle or from your hardest moments.
- Mentally - Change your mindset. Practice skills to growing resilience, optimism, and opportunity - traits Christianity and America are known for! If you want help, like the VUCAROO Challenge on Facebook and watch for a new women's challenge starting in January.
- Organizationally - Declutter your home. Donate things taking up space God wants to be free. Declutter your mind and heart. Do a silent, active brain dump by writing down anything that takes space in your thoughts. Choose no more than three to move back into your mind. When the others try to return, remind them they are on hold. They may return when other issues are resolved and space frees up, they may be delegated to someone else to handle, or they may be laid at the feet of Jesus and offered up to Him.
- Intellectually - Learn something new every day. It is hard to be confident when your education ends at graduation. Read non fiction. Listen to audio books. Listen again and again if you miss points the first time. Become an expert in something you are passionate about. If you forgot what passion is, cast aside old judgments, throw out a wide net, and make new discoveries until you find yours.
- Financially - Prove you are ready for the next step by being a good steward what He's already given you. Pray for detachment from the world (This goes well with organizational goals too!) Spending less to stress less. Develop a written, but imperfect, budget. Tweak it over the next three to six months. Waiting to get it right doesn't mean it doesn't work or you should stop using it.
- Socially - Be proactive in your connections. The concept of the Christmas madness is relatively new. It is not in the Bible. It was not celebrated by early Americans. Instead of feeling bad about attending or not attending decadent holiday galas, commit to connect with one friend or loved one through in person, video conferencing, or phone conversations each day. We were not made to hide behind text messages and computer screens.
- Believe! Visualization is powerful. Write out daily goals; then visualize them happening. Make visualizations vivid and detailed. World class athletes, top business owners, and respected military operatives utilize the power of visualization to launch success. It is not enough to tell God what you want, you must visualize and believe in what you want.
Know that God can do all things. He can also do nothing. You can be still, but you cannot be stopped. Every day you should strive to become more of who you are created to be! You do not wait for life in Advent or at any other time. You live it while you wait! Your goodness, power, worth, joy, dreams, love, none of you is diminished by your wait; however, only you have the power to choose to be enhanced by your wait!
Believe you are powerful in your wait and you will be happy this Advent and beyond!
Need spiritual resiliency skills this busy season watch this! Watch Advent Connect & Destress below.
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