World, I am so. pumped. that it's Advent! I don't mean to sound like a weirdo... but seriously though - I love the seasons of the liturgical year. It's exciting to have more things to celebrate, and a new season also occasionally brings with it that kick in the pants that I need to actually change things in my life or focus on certain areas in my life that I've been meaning to get around to doing for, oh, I don't know, however many months it's been since the last change of seasons.
In the last few years, I've come to particularly love Advent. I love the theme of hope that permeates the whole season. It's a season of penance, but in a gentler and quieter way than Lent - which is sometimes the way my heart needs to receive it.
Also, I'm not very good at waiting (collective gasp of shock and awe from those who know me) and Advent is a whole 4-week season of the year that helps me learn how to do that.
Yes, World, it's true: patience is decidedly not my strongest virtue. (In my defense, it's really just a sub-virtue.) But yet here it is, a whole season where we live palpably in the "already-not yet" tension that is the life of faith. Jesus came and He's here and we remember it, but also He's coming again and we're getting ready for it, and also He comes to us every day and we're trying to be always ready for it...
In other words, the Church is all like, "Hey, hurry up and WAIT."
...like I said, not my strongest virtue. However, at Mass this past Sunday the homily struck me. Well, the homily covered a lot of things, but the end of it particularly struck me. The priest ended by saying that this time of Advent is really up to us, because the Lord is always coming to us; so may we always find ourselves saying "Come, Lord Jesus!" at every moment of our lives.
Ok, so maybe that sounds a lot like any other Advent homily you've heard. But this year they got me. As I was reflecting on it, I started by just asking myself whether or not I truly say "Come, Lord Jesus," at every moment. And then that
What I mean to say is, What parts of my life am I not so keen on inviting Jesus into? Where am I not really willing to wait for Him?
Listen, I love the Baby Jesus and Christmas, and I want the Second Coming because Lord-have-mercy this world can get tiring, and I love the Eucharist and I want Jesus to come into my life daily with His grace and His glory and I want His presence with me at all times -- but, you know, there are those parts of my life where I'm pretty sure I have a good idea about what I want and how to achieve it. Come, Lord Jesus? If I'm honest, I think I'm more likely to be caught saying, "Nothing to see here, Lord Jesus!" And if I do manage to say "Come, Lord Jesus," I whisper it very quietly and add "Come, Lord Jesus... but like seriously, don't mess things up, ok?" or "Come, Lord Jesus... come help me with my plan. (And please do it like 5 minutes ago!)"
And I think that's where we end up anxious. Or at least, that's how I end up anxious. I don't have the theological quotations to back myself up on this, but I'd be willing to bet that having peace in your soul is more of a matter of the openness of your heart to the Holy Spirit than of anything else. If I take a serious look at what areas of my life make me the most anxious, the answer is obvious: it's the areas I refuse to invite Christ into, the areas I try to maintain control of just because I'm afraid of what He'll do if I hand over the reins.
But in reality, I'm just shooting myself in the foot because Christ is the only source of peace. There isn't another. And the sooner I fully believe that, the better.
Easier said than done, #amirite? I mean realistically, it's hard to just "not feel anxious". Feelings are not things we can necessarily control, at least not when they first come. But we do have the ability to decide what to do with them. Perhaps rather than either dwelling in anxiety and worry or suppressing it, a better option would be to enter in and ask, Have I allowed Christ in here at all?
And what better time than Advent to unclench the fists and start saying, "Come, Lord Jesus"?
Back in September, I did a little personal experiment. That experience affected me profoundly, and I still continue to try to practice that intentional fearlessness in my life now (though September is long over!). Perhaps I will make this effort to invite Christ into my "control-areas" my Advent/December experiment. And just maybe I'll continue the practice long after Advent ends.
Because when I know Who I'm waiting for, and Who I'm waiting with - and, let's be real, Who is waiting for me - the waiting will probably not seem quite so terrible. I might even get better at it.
Have a blessed Advent season, y'all!