Wait. Hope. Love. Advent in this strange, strange year…
Some days it feels like I’ve been waiting a lifetime. I’ve prayed ten-thousand prayers, “Please God, now . . .won’t you?”
Years of waiting to marry and be a mom have stretched into two decades. There’s the waiting for my company to take off—for big dreams of contribution to come to life, and for me to have a steady income again. There’s the waiting for family members’ health to improve and relationships to be restored and friends’ children to get the help they need. There’s waiting for the vaccine and waiting for refugees’ I’ve interviewed to find a true home.
“Please God, now . . . won’t you?”
Those ten-thousand prayers have been pleas for life to be transformed to the way I long for it be—for the way I believe it should be. Waiting to not feel behind in life. Waiting to belong. Waiting for justice. Waiting for security. Waiting for love.
What have you been waiting for? What do you long for to be transformed? And I’m curious: What does waiting feel like in your whole being?
For me, waiting can feel like a daily street fight. Take a deep breath as I walk out the door. Clench my fists. Run as fast as I can through a gang of naysayers as they yell: You don’t deserve it. You’re all alone. Things never change. I swiftly, and sometimes sloppily, throw punches and try to block what is most vulnerable—my hopes, my dreams, my heart’s deepest longings.
For me, waiting can also feel like getting into a wreck on the way to a party. I’m so angry after dressing all up to go to a gathering I’ve been looking forward to and now I’m a bloody mess. My car is totaled. I’m exhausted and sad.
Yet, more often than not, waiting feels like a dodgeball game with Distraction. To not feel like I’m in a street fight or a car wreck, I keep myself busy and distracted. Work, and binge Netflix. Work, and listen to NPR and play solitaire until I have a quick win and feel like a champion again. Call a friend, text a few more. Then, back to work.
I am really curious how waiting feels to you.
In Psalm 130, the psalmist speaks of a different way of waiting than I often go about it. Waiting to the psalmist doesn’t feel like frenzy or despair, distraction or isolation. It’s a waiting that grounds itself in hope and grows in love.
Here’s how Psalm 130:7 in The Voice declares it:
O Israel, ground your hope in the Eternal.
For in the Eternal lives the most loyal love,
and with Him comes the most abundant redemption.
When I wait without hope in the Eternal I become “a hot mess in a dumpster fire inside a train wreck.” Yes, I’m as composed as a 2020 presidential debate.
Yet, waiting profoundly shifts to hope when I remember one thing.
When I let myself be reminded that I’m not alone; when I ground my hope in the Eternal—I’m transformed.
God’s most loyal love reminds me that Immanuel (God with us) is for me. I don’t wait alone. I don’t have to make everything happen on my own. I am not alone.
God’s love invites me to hope, and hope expands my capacity to love . . . even in the elongated and excruciating seasons of waiting.
Through the years, I’ve discovered that I have to be intentional to do one thing: Let myself be reminded of God’s most loyal love. For me, that’s the only way my hope grounds itself.
Letting myself be reminded of God’s love can take a hundred forms. I’ll share a few that have been meaningful for me this year. And of course, I’m curious to hear yours.
Before I stumble out of bed, I listen to Pray as You Go (a free app that has British-accented Jesuits reading Scripture. I highly recommend it). Once coffee is made, I light a candle that sits next to an icon of Jesus and Mary. I read (sometimes just a snatch of Scripture); I journal my prayers (it keeps me more focused); and then I try to wait long enough to hear God’s voice of love for me. The Beloved naming me beloved.
This year I’ve been daily praying: God, expand my capacity to love and be loved.
I walk. I walk a lot. I find that when the sun brushes my cheeks, light shimmers through leaves, and dewy grass glistens that I am reminded of God’s most loyal love.
I lean on friends. One of the great gifts that has come from waiting for family has been cultivating a family of friends. A couple of months ago I realized that I was more desperate to be reminded of God’s love and grounded in hope than typical. I reached out to several friends and asked them to pray five minutes a week for my business and my heart. That has been such a powerful gift in this season.
I give thanks. Here’s a paradox: when I pause to note how much I have been given, waiting for what I long for loses some of its sting. I’m once again reminded of God’s most loyal love.
So, what are you waiting for?
And in the midst of the wait, how are you letting yourself be reminded of God’s most loyal love for you?
I leave you with this: You don’t wait alone.
That’s the story of Advent we enter into once again. Immanuel—God with us—is for us.