As I sit here the house is quiet. It’s 6 am. Josh is at the gym and here I sit, December 1st, the beginning of the advent season.
The Christmas lights on the tree are twinkling next to me. Everything around me is silent, aside from the gentle murmur of the video monitor and Cali’s breathy snores under foot. Moments like these are precious, magical even, as the calm sets in and I pause for a moment to think about what’s to come this month.
Welcome to the advent season friends. I have to be honest, for ages I wasn’t entirely sure what this season was all about, other than knowing it was a time to get ready for Christmas. Ah, that means 24 days to bake the cookies, wrap the gifts, do the shopping, throw the party, and cram in 104 Hallmark Christmas movies, right?
Ummmm, a little off girlfriend.
As I grew older, and particularly over the last decade as Josh and I were consumed by a waiting season of our own, I learned more about what advent truly means, and now, it represents 24 days that are incredibly sacred in my heart.
Advent is about longing. It’s a time we prepare to celebrate His birth and acknowledge that we are still waiting for His second coming, when broken will be made new and every tear will be wiped from our eyes. It’s such a beautiful season in our faith because it takes intentional time to pause and focus on the waiting. Advent is tender, hopeful, and builds on anticipation. You see, from the end of the Old Testament until the start of the New Testament, there was 400 years of silence. Every year I share that and it never gets old, because I cannot fathom the anticipation, wondering, silence, and waiting the occurred in those FOUR HUNDRED years.
Ummmm is this Jesus ever really coming?
Did we mishear something?
Did God abandon us?
Okay, well, I am about to die, so make sure to tell the future generation to keep waiting well.
And then, the anguish of waiting was over. When the time was right, the answer came.
Louis Giglio writes “The wait was over. The silence was broken. Heaven unleashed thunderous applause. And in a messy manger, Jesus was born. God to human flesh! The Son of God had become the Son of Man – Emmanuel – God with us!”
The advent season gives us time to prepare for that celebration. To focus on the upcoming arrival. To sit in the wait.
Yet, for those who are in their own waiting season, whether it’s infertility, illness, a heavenly reunion with a child or spouse who’s passed, awaiting adoption placement, financial instability, marital strife, singleness, a wayward child – the holiday season can mix in unanticipated grief. It feels you are barely holding it all together as it is; now you’re being told you have to focus on more waiting? And do so joyfully?
Here’s a promise friend – no matter what your heart is carrying this advent season, God will be with you. He will slow our pace, shift our eyes, and remind us how much He loves us. I truly believe He will replace the whirling anxiety and remind us that He will come through on His promises. 400 years of silence was not in vain. He will lift our eyes to see Him. He will gently soothe our aching, bleeding, writhing hearts and tell us how loved we are, how seen we are, how faithful He is, how capable He is, and how we can trust in His hope and promises.
My friend Marissa sent me a beautiful blog post on advent last week, written by a woman who faced infertility and pregnancy loss, which included this snippet:
“As I learned in particular through our lost babies, one after another after another, the joy born out of suffering and longing is more beautiful for its very complexity. I am learning it again in these days in particular when so many are grieving and angry, sad and wounded from the pain of living in this world as it stands right now. The joy doesn’t erase the longing and the sadness that came before but it does redeem it, it may even stain backwards changing how we look at those days or years. But the joy is made more real, richer and deeper perhaps, because we longed for it with all our hearts for so many days.” (emphasis my own)
So good. So true. So rich.
Now, a note to those who are attempting to navigate the holidays while carrying the heavy burden of infertility, I see you. I see how you are being bombarded with images of young children under the tree with their family, and social media hitting you day after day with the joy others are experiencing, not to mention the dreaded Christmas card opening where it seems like everyone you know is announcing a “surprise!” pregnancy. Friend, I know how hard this is and I know that your deepest longing is for a child of your own. The reminders are constant, and you are heavy with sorrow that had you not miscarried, or had your sweet baby girl not been born a week before viability, that this Christmas would look so different. I see you and God sees your pain too.
And now here we go – into Christmas – a season where we are focused entirely about a miraculous birth. And it can be oh so hard. We think about the fact that a virgin got pregnant, and instead of being filled with awe, we think “Well, of course she did! Everyone but me can get pregnant!” (Been there!)
First of all, sweet friend, know that’s okay to come to God’s feet and pray for peace and patience. It’s okay to ask Him honestly why your child isn’t here yet. He’s big enough to handle these questions. It’s okay to tell Him this cross of infertility feels too heavy. These are difficult emotions and feelings to wrestle too, so don’t try to wrestle with them alone. Carry them to Him and maintain open and honest conversation, even if you feel like you are met with silence. His silence does not mean He is absent, I have learned this many times over the years, so hang on tight and be reminded this holiday that God comes through on His promises. It may take what feels like 400 years, but the waiting is not in vain.
My prayer for you this holiday season is that you know how deeply loved you are, that you know you are not forgotten, that you know your grief is valid and real. I pray that you give yourself grace this season to take care of yourself, whether that’s declining an invitation to an event, or starting a new tradition instead of pressing pause on all celebrations until your family grows. I pray that your grief doesn’t stop you from living and being present in the wonder of this season. It’s okay to bake cookies, take a walk to look at Christmas lights, snuggle up and watch some of your favorite Christmas movies, and deck those halls. And I pray fervently, that in this season of waiting and hope, even in the midst of your brokenness, grief and infertility, that your heart can connect with what Christmas is truly about.
For God so loved the world, that He sent His only Son. He looked at the brokenness of the world, and instead of responding with justice, he responded with tender mercy and grace. God took human flesh, His own Son, and Jesus humbled Himself to take on the form of a human and it all began at Christmas.
Paul David Tripp writes: “He would suffer every single day of his life so that he could, with his life, give grace to rebels, extend love to those who would deny his existence, impart wisdom to those who think they know better, and extend forgiveness to everyone who seeks Him.
The love of Jesus didn’t end 2000+ years ago. It is still alive and offered. I pray that as you wait and long this Christmas season, that you remain close to the One who can carry you through this and allow yourself to be held by His gentle peace and comfort.
Happy Advent my dear friends. The weary world rejoices!
I just started a wonderful Advent book this morning, a 24 days devotional called Come Let Us Adore Him. It’s not too late to Amazon Prime one to you if you’d like to do it along with me! Depending on where you are in the USA, it appears same day delivery is available!