Christmas time is here. We are almost to the highly anticipated day, and while the Christmas cheer began shortly after Labor Day in the commercial world, the music and food and parties and decorations are now fully justified.
I helped my mom put up the Christmas decorations around the house this past weekend. It was the first time I had helped since before I left for college, and it was so, so good. Memories flashed through my mind as I hung each ornament on the tree, remembering how much I loved Cinderella as a child and our family’s love for everything Charlie Brown and football and snowmen.
While I hung each ornament and chatted with my mom, I reflected on the past year, where I was at in life, and where I thought, one year ago, I would be at this point.
And typically so, Christmas looks different this year. I’m graduating soon and thinking about apartments and cities and job applications. I just finished student teaching and am processing through that experience while preparing to go back to a college schedule of classes and late nights and homework. My twin brother is stationed in Italy with the Army, unable to come home this year—our first Christmas without him.
This year, in the midst of the craziness and life happening around me, I still find myself in a state of waiting. I’m waiting to find job applications and go back to school and be immersed in the community I missed so much this past semester. I’m waiting for graduation and moving somewhere new and being a full-time teacher with my own students and classroom. My family and I are waiting for my brother to come home next month, to be reunited and celebrate a belated holiday with him.
I think it’s fair to say that at the end of each year, most people find themselves in some state of waiting. And in this waiting comes wanting. Wanting for a better job or living situation or community or relationship. Wanting for life to speed up or for life to slow down, wanting some kind of change we hoped would already have happened by now.
We find that our deepest wants and desires often come to the surface during the Christmas season. In the midst of the festiveness and the pressure to fully experience every second of this season, I’ve found myself wanting more than just books and a job, but an undeniably deeper desire to be loved and known and to love and know others in return.
In high school and during my first few years at college, I started to view wanting and desiring as weak and selfish. Why couldn’t I just be content? Why did I need more? Isn’t it a sin to be selfish? I’ve wrestled with this over and over, trying to suppress my deep longings for what I desire out of life, trying so hard to just be ok.
And then early one morning, in my dark, quiet dining room, I stumbled upon this verse:
“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” Revelation 22:21
I read it over and over, realizing that I had to stop condemning myself for being a human who thirsts. The Lord created us with a deep sense of longing, not necessarily so that each want can be fulfilled at our command, but that through each desire we are drawn towards Him. That this process of wanting will bring us to take the life Jesus offers without guilt and that through our wants and perceived weaknesses we realize our frail humanity and our desperate need for Jesus and grace and saving.
In this time of Advent, this time of anticipating the birth of Jesus who permanently changed the process of salvation for future generations, we are called to wait. We are called to wrestle with our wants and desires and insecurities and weaknesses so that we may be drawn closer to Him, to move towards a deeper understanding that He is what we desire; that He is the One who freely offers the life we thirst for. We are called to wait so that on Christmas, we will be ready.
I pray you find meaning this particular Advent and that this time of waiting and wanting and wrestling moves you closer to leaning into your need for Jesus and the life He brought to this earth.
And if you have a moment, I ask you to please pray for the men and women who are serving in the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force both stateside and overseas this Christmas. Pray for those who are unable to come home, that their time of waiting will be purposeful and meaningful as they serve to protect this country. Pray that the Lord will keep them safe.
To those who are serving in the military this Christmas: thank you. Your service matters and your sacrifices are deeply appreciated.
Picture Credit: Chase Emery