Finding Hope in the Messiness

Advent either started yesterday or last Sunday, depending on how you observe the season. Regardless, we’ve gotten off to a semi-rocky start. We’ve had a dinner-long meltdown during our candlelit meal because I wouldn’t turn off all the lights; I forgot to print out the Jesse Tree ornaments that go along with Unwrapping the Greatest Gift; and our first piece of candy for the calendar was dug out of the depths of our leftover Halloween candy treat basket.

My friend Debby said it best in her post about being Out of Sync with Advent:

When I thought about how out of sync we’d be with the Christian world I realized that Jesus intentionally lived his life out of sync with the world. He came to turn things upside down a bit. To remind us that he is the way to true life, not money or status.

img_2389This point of view has helped me as we start out this week of Hopeful waiting. And perhaps it’s why we begin with the hope candle. Hope itself is so expansive, so messy and sometimes rocky.

Hope can embody a deep anticipation but it can also be a bit out of sync. I often use the phrase, I hope so not to mean eager waiting but to hedge any expectation, in case things don’t work out. I use hope to water down excitement; to guard against disappointment.

This season has been one of reframing hope. I find myself using the word when talking about politics, about current events. I hope things work out; I hope it’s not as bad as it seems; I hope it’s better than I expect.

But what kind of hope is that? What I need to do is frame hope in the sense of complete trust. We are waiting in darkness, eager for the light and hope to emerge with Christmas. I put my trust in that hope; I put my trust in the small child who promises peace to our world.

My hope for this Advent season is that we take the time to recognize and sit with the rockiness that is life. Jesus didn’t come to give us an easy life or a beautiful Christmas memory. He came to turn this world upside down; to stir up the status quo; to cast out fear. Perhaps that’s not what we see in the small baby in the manger but it’s what is to come. I find that messy, a bit scary, but ultimately so very hopeful.

How has your Advent started? How do you find hope in the midst of real life messiness?

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6 thoughts on “Finding Hope in the Messiness

  1. Annie, your writing here….well, I see such growth and am so happy you’re working through the mess. It is scary and I find I use the word hope much as you, as hedging my fears. Things are a bit messy around here lately too. Time to recognize this baby who was born right in the middle of it too.

    1. Oh, Debby. Thank you for such a compliment! Isn’t it so interesting that Jesus had perhaps the messiest birth (on so many levels!) and yet we have made Christmas into a picture perfect holiday? I guess that’s a metaphor for life in general, but especially ironic now. Learning to find Jesus is mostly found in that mess.

  2. There is so much to do in Advent, I lose hope of getting it all done. I have such high standards and expectations – and feel like I’m failing all the time. All my ingredients for the Christmas cake are all still sitting in a bag. The greenery is still sitting outside the door waiting to be made in to an advent wreath, our Advent calendar currently has only 12 boxes to it, and only 2 doors are decorated, and our Christmas lights have not even come out of the basement whilst the neighbours have had theirs up all week. It seems that in Switzerland, punctuality is everything and tat includes Advent traditions, too. But I have spent some precious moments this week introducing my kids to the Jesse tree idea and we have 3 decorations on that, and my son enjoyed me reading the Fall and the Flood to him this week. And my daughter and I had a lovely few hours copying old Christmas cards in pen and ink drawings. I am trying to lower my expectations and demands on myself and my family, trying to enjoy talking about Jesus, even if creatively celebrating his coming is hard to fit into the schedule. And heck, I might just go and buy an Advent wreath (like everyone else does!). Thanks for your words, Annie. It’s so lovely to keep up with your family life across the pond. Lots of love xxx

    1. Love this so much, Caroline! Yes, indeed. These moments with our kids, that’s what Advent truly is, right? I need to remember that what I want to install most is a love and curiosity of this season – not the stress that can come from doing it “right.” This year, Bea helped me put the chocolates in her Advent calendar. It’s no secret that it’s me doing it anyway, why not involve her? So much more fun! Learning that each year is different and that my actions are so much louder than any traditions I may want to form. Thanks, as always, for commenting. I’m glad for our conversations – even across years and miles!

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