November 26, 2013 by Beth Hess
“Christmas. Ugh,” I voiced to a friend on the phone. She asked where that mood was coming from.
“Because if Christmas is here, it means I’ve wasted the whole dang year.”
From the moment the ball dropped to announce a new year, I have been groaning with each turn of the calendar page. Willing the weeks to slow. Begging the days to give me more time.
Because I’m sitting on the edge of December, and it feels like the only mark I’ll leave from 2013 is an imprint on my couch. And Level 150 on Candy Crush.
I didn’t lose the weight.
I didn’t write a book.
I didn’t redecorate my living room.
I didn’t cook healthy meals.
I didn’t run a 5K.
I didn’t increase my charity work.
I didn’t have that garage sale.
I didn’t call my friends more.
I didn’t swear under my breath less.
Of the words I declared in January that I would focus on throughout the year, the scales have been tipped way more to the empty than the full.
Not because of any personal tragedy. Not because the year was without any positives at all. Not because I’m sad — or lonely — or without hope. I have not lost family. Or friends. Or faith.
But I have lost days to the Blahs. A whole long string of them now. 330ish. And counting.
Yet even here — perhaps especially here — God meets with me. On my couch. Playing Candy Crush.
And He speaks of seasons. And cycles. And how new becomes old but closed doors open new ones. He speaks of the turning of the soil — how death gives way to life and how all things must be turned into the darkness sometimes in order to be ready for the light.
He speaks of the transformation that happens in cocoons — even though what happens inside cannot be seen from without.
He calls Himself Redeemer. And He’s speaking not only of the work He did on the cross but also how He redeems me every day. How nothing is wasted in His hands. Not even the unused days in my rearview mirror.
In all of this, then, I find myself in the season of Advent. And maybe for the first time in my nearly 40 years, I understand what it means. An expectant waiting for the Christ Child. A longing for God to show up in a new way. An understanding that expectant waiting includes the element of promise and hope and a deep, deep knowing that the thing you are waiting for is most assuredly coming. That in the birth of Jesus, God came to us in a way He never had before. That he still comes in new and unexpected ways. That the waiting is rewarded, not wasted.
And my spirit is turned like soil again. The pieces that had been stuck in darkness now face the light. Expectant for the seed. The seed from which comes a sprout and the sprout becomes a stem and the roots reach deep for the living water and the rich soil of grace. The bloom is not here yet. But Advent is.
And so I expectantly wait.