Come, Lord Jesus: The Weight of Waiting is now available! For the last few weeks I have invited the members of my “street team” to share their stories and reflections on the book, the topic of waiting, and Advent. (This post contains affiliate links.)
The world is heavy these days. Every day we have an onslaught of news — of hate winning, of earthquakes and air strikes, of just feeling buried under the grind of the mundane. In our world, all that has been broken for a very long time has reached the surface. It’s as if all the things that were cheap, easy, and horribly bad for it, we’ve been feeding to our collective body and they have made our skin green and our insides twisted.
We just now see it. It’s hard to pull away from online chatter, it’s hard to do the good, hard, next step: show up, make dinner, seek forgiveness (not just across party lines, or racial and class lines, but even in your own family). It’s hard to be present when you find yourself weighed down with the weight of waiting. When all you have is a broken heart, you wonder if that’s enough. Can your brokenness be more than a defect? Can it even help heal a nation, a community, a soul?
In Advent, we wait curled up with our hands around our knees, rocking as we wait for our Redeemer. He’s been promised. He has shown himself faithful. Yet still we wait. As we let our food settle from Thanksgiving and rush into the frenetic frenzy of the Christmas season, it’s easy to focus on all that needs doing. If we are not intentional to make space and time for the waiting, we will distract ourselves away from our glaring needs. We are broken. We are tired. We are consumed with rush and hurry. And the world and our souls, if we’re honest, are bone weary. We think, through our hurry, that gifts and hot cocoa and doing Elf on a Shelf will help to soothe our souls.
What if this Advent we scheduled time to sit in the uncomfortable space of waiting instead? What fences will you need to erect around your time, your wallet, and your heart to do so? It’s not going to happen naturally, so what can be gained by creating space to wait?
The waiting space feels a bit lonely at first. It can feel like this chasm of soul space is going to swallow you whole, when we’ve been so bent on accomplishing for our worthiness. It’s time to stop the hustle. But cultivating the waiting spaces means we finally have room to breathe. Doesn’t a full breath of air sound so much more inviting?
Instead of distracting yourself with the baubles of the season, how can you lean into your own hurt? How can you open up space for waiting? How can you listen to a heartbeat of pain from someone else?
A few weeks ago, my health took an unexpected turn and I was left flattened in the bathroom, crying out for mercy from a God who felt far away. I was forced to wait for medical tests and yet even after them, no medical answers came. It was not more information that could save me. All I could do was wait for God to come near — to see my pain, to be with me in it.
I turned over in my mind all the stories of healing in the gospels. Why wouldn’t God heal me like that? Didn’t he love me? Was it just my faith was so much weaker than those who received miracles? I was tempted to turn that waiting space into an answer: that I just needed to hustle in a more Christian way, work at upping my faith quotient, and then God would show himself.
But the waiting space never works that way. God came near — not in the way I thought, but through the generous words of my husband that I am his no matter my health and productivity. God came near as I felt seen by his own glance of compassion. That that was more than enough, even if healing never came. God came near as I saw my friends with chronic conditions in a new light.
God shapes us through suffering. God hones us when the world threatens to break apart. Will we distract ourselves in the process, or will we lean into the pain and brokenness? Will we offer up the pain of the world as our very feeble offering to a God who sees? The good news of the waiting — the good news of Advent — is that God comes near. It just may look like nothing you expected.
Guest Post By
Ashley Hales has a Ph.D. in English from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland but she spends most of her time chasing her four children and helping her husband plant a church in southern California. She has written for Books & Culture, ThinkChristian, Englewood Review of Books and is a regular writer at The Mudroom. She’s writing a book on the suburbs. Follow her at www.aahales.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.