I love the season of Advent. The history, the thoughtfulness, the hymns, and all the other traditions kept in the church and in my family. For a few years now, my mom, sisters, and I have read the She Reads Truth Advent book together. Although we live all across the country, we can read scripture and the Book of Common Prayer together as a way to center our hearts and fix our focus on Jesus instead of all the hustle and bustle of Christmas time.
I look around and see so many good things; my fellows, host family, real family all over the country, and living in Nashville! People pour into us Fellows and love us even though we offer nothing in return. I am reminded of Bob Goff’s view on relationships: “Next to grace, I bet God thinks having us need each other was one of His best ideas.” I have truly met some of the most inspiring and gracious people I’ve ever known while here in Nashville. Thinking about the relationships forming here makes me tear up because I am so honored to do life with these people! But I can’t expect these things to give me ultimate joy or peace. I’ve experienced how people let you down, and done the same to those I love countless times.
On the other end, I look around and see so many hard things. It’s pretty easy to find the brokenness in the world and in ourselves. We continue to learn about the ways God’s heart breaks for humanity, and how He breaks our hearts as well. If all I do is look around, I will be left devastated.
Surrounded by joy and heartache, and all of it reminds me of the beginning of the Confessions of St. Augustine. “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” Looking to find my validation or my joy in any of the things surrounding me will leave me longing for more. And the good news is that God intended it to be this way! The Creator of life knows that the best life possible is found in Him! When I look to Jesus I find that “The things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.”
We recently read “Darkness is my only Companion;” a book written by an Episcopal priest who battles deep anxiety and depression. Discussing what the Bible says about these struggles, and seeing dear friends battle this reminds me of yet another way our hearts are restless.
In a country where anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting almost ⅕ of our population, we clearly need peace. A few years ago my home church wrote a song called “I Will Look Up.” I keep coming back to the lyrics and promise that when we turn our eyes upon Jesus we find what we need.
“All the worries of this world
I will lay them at Your feet
Surrender every anxious thought
For perfect peace, Your perfect peace”
Advent calls us into peace. It is a time to create space for the coming of Christ. All over the bible we see that Jesus answers all of our prayers and fulfills our longings.
“And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace,” Micah 5:4-5.
Whatever this season brings, I am thankful that Jesus came to be the “desire of every nation” and “joy of every longing heart.”. May we rest in Him this Christmas season.