**for those of you sick of all my links to Advent articles, don't worry, I will have to actually write stuff starting on the 26th, rather than just linking up to better written articles. But, I can't help posting so much about advent. The more I study it, the move I love that God gives us these 4 focuses as we WAIT for HIM: hope, peace, joy, and finally love.
This final week of advent is the week of love. Essentially it all leads up to this-- the longing, the anticipation, the peace, the joy --- it all points us to the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
If we never had anything else, if no one else loved us, that single act would be enough. If I never get married, If I never rock my own babies, If I do get married and my husband leaves me or my boyfriend breaks up with me, If my kids rebel, If friends leave me, If family doesn't understand or abandons, that is enough. Although it doesn't feel like enough sometimes, the fact remains that Christ's first advent and his future advent is the best act of love I will ever know and the main love that matters. Not to say the others aren't good, but it is good to remember which love is essential.
My heart aches for so many this season. I know people who have had parents divorce or they have divorced. I know families who have lost children. I certainly have plenty of friends waiting for husbands or babies. While Christmas has been mostly joyfully this year (thankfully), I have known my share of Christmases that felt empty in some shape or form. I'm sure we have all felt that way -- grumpy kids, family who couldn't make it, single, lost a family member -- whatever life threw at us this year made it hard to focus on how much we were loved by a Savior that became man.
I know how hard it can be to remember the God who loves us and should be worship when the circumstances are tough so that is why I loved this article on Christmas Perspectives.
In this article, the author talks about her aunt who was sick yet still showed up to holidays and her uncle's sorrow the year she was gone. She also talks about her own Christmases not going as expected.
I remember the difficulty of lining up my expectations with what God was actually doing, and thinking, “This isn’t good, God. How did You allow this to happen?” And it took a couple of years, I can remember, of having Christmases that were good, they were ... good, but they were tough, too, where I would tear up and then put my make-up back on and go out and be with people, because it wasn’t exactly what I expected.
I could have sat down and said, “I don’t like this, God, and I’m not going to celebrate You, which is really an awful thought of self-pity—on Christmas day? That’s ridiculous!” Or I could say, “Why has God allowed this opportunity issue in my life? Could it be to turn my focus outward?”
I had never realized how many other people were in the same situation on Christmas day. There were plenty of people who found themselves alone for whatever reason, and it gave me an opportunity to think through, “What could God want with this, what could He be directing my gaze to?”
If God is love (as we know He is), then every circumstances is lovingly allowed by Him and can point us to Him. That is most important to realize this holiday season. What we were waiting for was His coming and saving us, and Christmas, particular this week, is a focus on that act of love coming to fruition...in its first stages. Also it challenged me to love on others who are hurting just as Christ loved me....because He was born, died, resurrected and sees me through each day- good and bad, then I am able to love others. In the interview she linked in her article, the author discusses using her hard Christmases to remind her to reach out to others (by throwing a Christmas brunch)
Loving others who are hurting and not just thinking of our own pain, now there's an amazing thought. Although I have reached out to some this season, not nearly enough....I will be thinking through the year, How can I focus on God's love and not my circumstances during advent? And how can I love others as well?