Advent is a four-week act of faith, hope, and love. We have a few short weeks to de-clutter our hearts, and make straight God’s path in our souls. We are waiting for the birth of our Savior. The key is waiting well.
Waiting with Faith
With Advent Faith we let God lead, which means we give up our icy death-grip on control. It’s easy to be so involved in our own plans and expected results for our lives and for our families that we don’t let God act as he desires to. We begin to feel entitled to certain accomplishments, rewards and gifts that we want, because we feel we have earned them with our hard work and achievements.
The simple reality of Christmas is that we did nothing to deserve the greatest gift we have ever received. Furthermore, the only way to receive it is to show up in simplicity and humility with empty hands. Are our hands and hearts empty and ready? Our advent waiting is a time to let go of everything that stops us from receiving Christ. It’s a time to choose Christ over the idols that stealthily slip in to our lives, stealing our hearts, minds and time. It’s a process of simplifying, letting go, and cleaning out all the areas of our hearts that should be empty in waiting for the Christ Child to come. We want to approach the manger in Bethlehem with a simplicity and poverty of heart that embraces the God of the Universe who became a poor child for us.
Take inventory of your heart and your time. What is filling it with distractions and what is preventing you and your family from leaving space for God to act? Actively let go of these things and be ok with having an empty space that is waiting for Christ’s arrival, in your hearts, and in your calendars. Replace a couple of busy hours per week with prayer and in that time, ponder things in your heart like Mary did, reflecting on how God is leading you through his touch on your life.
Waiting with Hope
Waiting is an act of hope when I do not wait for what I wish to happen, but instead hold an open-ended trust that whatever God wants will happen. It’s easy to wait when I am waiting for my plans to be fulfilled or for something I expect to get. It’s harder to wait when I don’t know what I’m waiting for. Advent waiting is an openness to God’s surprises. He reveals himself to us in ways we don’t expect. It’s trusting that the answers to the questions I hold will come, more profoundly than I could imagine or could answer them for myself.
Look at the nations and watch– and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.
Waiting with advent hope is the opposite of a sense of entitlement, which waits for what it expects and believes it deserves.
There are areas of our life where we are attached to our expectations. In Advent, we can take time in prayer to recognize them, let them go and let God surprise us. With an act of trust, we resolve to give up our sense of entitlement in any area of our lives, and instead look with humility for the free and unexpected gifts that God gives us.
Waiting with Love
In Advent, we prepare our lives to receive Christ because we love him, but the way we prepare to love him is by letting him love us first. He gives us the love that we give to Him and to others. We meet him in prayer, in the sacraments and in each other. There we receive him and his love and we become capable of loving as he asks us to. We can surrender ourselves out of love for him. We can offer the Christ child our hearts and lives without holding anything back. Filled with Christ’s love, we can love others even when it’s really, really hard.
Make time for prayer. Humbly ask Christ to show you how much he loves you. Pray the rosary and ask Mary to show you how to wait with love like she did for the birth of her son. When you are with others during this frenetic time of the year, make a decision to be present and pay attention to the fullness of the moment and the people you are with instead of looking at what is coming next on your to-do list. It’s self-surrender for the Other.
Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.
God is with us in every moment this Advent. Adopt the habit of waiting for him to show His face, watch for him, and when you glimpse his love, tell him, “thank you Jesus, I love you too.” Reflect on how long Christ has waited for us to love him and ask him to give us a heart that waits with love like He does.