I had goals of Lenten proportion for Advent this year. I have been feeling just way off and far from the person I wanted to be - spiritually, emotionally, and physically really - and like a brand new liturgical year would be the type of thing to bring myself back in a big sort of way. I had big dreams and even wrote down my "rules" and felt sure that on that first Sunday afternoon I would experience a wonderful change of heart and this would be so incredibly easy.
But then Saturday night & Sunday morning rolled around and life kept happening. Business as usual. My husband kept working 80 hour weeks (also, 80 is a low estimate), my kids continued to exhibit their own free will and human nature, Sonic and Wendy's continued to be conveniently located and taste moderately good, and Starbucks continued to get me through the day. My days were still chaotic and I didn't magically feel like praying the rosary all of the sudden.
After planning all year for a quiet Christmas at home, last minute changes in plans meant our calendar is instead filled with travel (6 flights this month) - including two weddings! This month is full of joy and family and so many good things, but full nonetheless. And the change I had been hoping for seemed to be slipping away into the continual mess of my life.
Yet God calls me to rest. Rest? How can I rest? I have 40 peg dolls to paint, 4 dozen cookies to bake, 5 baskets of laundry to put away, and more. I have shoes for Saint Nicholas to fill and a paper Advent village to build and devotionals to try to remember to read. How can I rest? It's midnight and the peg dolls are drying.
This year, Advent will be humbling for me. But not in the ways I planned. Because I just can't build that Advent village. I tried, but this season of life is the kind that stretches me thin & I am learning my limits. "Know thyself," they say. I can barely find non-wrinkly clothes for my family to wear.
God is calling me to quiet my heart and my home, not by overwhelming myself with too many new traditions or restrictions (although if you're up for it, those are great, but I'm not). But with a gentle softening of my heart.
He reminds me that He loves me just as I am, but He also calls me to turn from my sins and towards His perfect will.
He takes my hand in this Advent season and he asks me to walk with Him towards the Father with him. He shows me his mother and he asks her to care for me as my spiritual mother. In this season of life, when I am exhausted and overwhelmed and prone to anxiety, He calls me his daughter and welcomes me into warmth and light. He reminds me of the love I have for my children - the unconditional love, regardless of how many times they may mess up - and He shows me that His love for me is even more than I can comprehend.
He welcomes me into this season of expectant joy. He lifts my burdens from my shoulders and reminds me that I don't need to do everything or try to be perfect. His love is sufficient, and his grace is saving. If I forget to show them the video about Saint Nicholas or don't get organized enough to make any cool crafts, but I spend this season sharing Christ's love with my children and husband and family (and you!) - then it will have been a good Advent.
Wishing you a blessed and restful Advent season, friends. Only 18 days until Christmas!
PS I'll be sharing more of our liturgical living type of things on instagram at @liturgyofhome. I'd love to journey with you!