Each night we gather together and light the candles and try to come away from rush and hurry and focus on this season of waiting. This time when we are reminded of the miracle of Jesus' simple birth in an obscure part of the world that was foretold from long ago. This birth that ushered in God's promise that a savior would be born and through Him everyone in the world can be with God. It changes everything about how we live this life looking forward to the life to come. This season of Advent.
But in this waiting we are still selfish, sinful, messy people. I was reminded of this during the past week. Three days in a row we would gather and the girls would start bickering, "Mama, I want to light the candles!" "It is MY turn to open the door!" "She did it yesterday!" "I want the bigger cookie!" And Abishai would attempt to light his hair on fire while smearing his cookie face all over the couch. Honestly, I just felt defeated. I wondered if any of this really matters. I wanted to give up. I wanted to scream "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MUCH WORK I DO TO GET THIS ALL READY FOR YOU UNGRATEFUL KIDS?" The first day I think I did threaten them with taking away Advent time because they were not acting right. And yes, the irony of taking away scripture reading as punishment is not lost on me. I was desperate friends. And tired. By the third night of pettiness I was just sad. And tired. I felt like a failure. I just want all the memories to be magical and perfect but that is not real life. Real life is messy.
And then just like a gentle nudge from the Spirit I remembered THIS is what the waiting means. During our apathy, our pain, our suffering, our bitterness, our unforgiveness, our doubt, our selfishness, our pettiness God enters our world and fulfills His promise. His love and grace is not merited. We do not deserve to unwrap this Christmas story but yet Jesus came. He came and comes not because we come perfectly but because HE is faithful. My kid's momentary ugly behavior mirror my ugly heart and I was so grateful for the reminder that we are called to come and wait. Not because we have it together but precisely because we do not. We are waiting to mark Jesus' birth and anticipating His second coming when He will usher in the New heaven and earth and sin will be no more. That is worth the waiting.
This truth allows us to be forgiving and patient with ourselves and others. We prayed together as a family and discussed how we can wait well together considering others before our selves. Today we are baking cookies for teachers and making a meal for a family we don't know other than they are going through real pain and sickness. Because we all need to practice this "value others before ourselves" because like so many things Jesus spoke of it does not come easily. A few nights ago when it came time to open the chocolates during family Advent time the girls asked if anyone else would like "their" chocolate and freely and joyfully gave them up. And I was so grateful. Not because there will not be a sibling smackdown tomorrow but because we are in this waiting thing together and we are committed to each to learn to wait well and forgive often.God so often teaches me through my children and I am so grateful. Family time is hard fought but worth it. Always.
Happy waiting friends,