advent and ordinary time

Sometime in October….Ordinary Time

I am at church. It has been awhile. The last time I was here I left in the middle. I said I was running an errand but more likely I was running away. Suddenly we sing a song. Oceans. 

Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now
Standing and trusting. 

My damn chin starts to quiver. I try to hide behind my coffee cup and wipe away the few tears that slip out anyways. I love this song, but I can not sing it this morning. I am so mad at myself for not being able to do this. For being angry. For feeling sorry for myself. The sermon is on how heavy our burden is and how focusing on the right things will lift them off. He tells us to imagine a heavy weight on us, and then suddenly it being lifted.
I think this is bullshit.
I do not have to imagine a heavy weight. It is there. It is back. It has slammed me into the ground again. I am afraid to imagine it being lifted because the memory of the lightness is too hard. Making the weight only seems heavier. 
I am angry by the cheapness of his words. How easy he makes it sound. And that again, I must not be doing or saying or believing the right things. In this moment I can promise that I am not. I feel like maybe my faith has been cheap and shallow if it is this easily rattled.

I tell a few people how I feel. The pain that is back and with it the emptiness that hope seems to have left behind in its flight. The neurologist gets me in that day (this is a small miracle). He says he is so sorry. He increases my dosage and tells me to come back in a few months. I go home emptied out. Drained of hope and trying to formulate some idea of what to do and mostly only come up with things not to do. A friend asks me how Jesus are in this season. I am honest. If Jesus was my friend onFacebook, I think I might have unfriended him. Or at least hidden him for a little while. It is not that I don’t know that he is good and true. I do. I just don’t feel it in this moment. If this is his plan then it is a shitty plan. Again, I feel like this is so whiny. That I am not dying. My family is amazing. I take a page from Ann Voskamp and start listing the good. I look for beautiful around me. I find it and I snap pictures of the moon and write lists of the things I am glad for. I keep another running list in my head of all the things that could be worse.Thankfullness and perspective are not always the magical cures we want them to be. I tell my friend that I have given up caffeine and alcohol and running and am seeing a counselor. In her effort to be kind she tells me that maybe I should stop using so much energy to do things or fix things but to use some of it to trust.
I want to throw my phone and do not even know how to respond.
How do I trust someone who lets you hurt so badly. 
Because when I am honest, 
I do not trust. 
It is why I don’t want to go to church or sing the songs or face the absence of hope.

Prayer like everything these days comes hard.
I read about big wild prayers.
and think that maybe I should be praying wilder. Or more often. Or more faithfully. Or fasting. Or shit.... more of anything that will get me a response. My prayers feel empty and repetitive and selfish but most days I mumble them anyways seeded with doubt. 
I have not gone to God last.
I have prayed wildly and nakedly and broken.
I have asked to be healed. for relief. for comfort.
I have asked to be able to trust again.
I keep asking.
Hope I suppose keeps asking even when she doesn’t trust the answers or sing out loud.

Decemberish - Advent

The Church year has its own seasons: advent, Christmas, ordinary time, lent and Easter. Most of the year is just called ordinary time. The past season of ordinary was hard, but thankfully brief. It is likely to come back around. And pass again, but for now it is Advent. My December days are busy with ordinary things but they are still counted differently. I am not very liturgical. My church attendance is questionable, but I have always been drawn to the formal seasons. I am glad to mark my days by something other than papers to grade, pills to take and laundry to hang.

I read recently that Advent is about the longing and the waiting.

“Advent simply means “coming” – so for me, it is about the waiting. When people talk about “living in the tension” I think of Advent. It’s the time when we prepare to celebrate his birth and we also acknowledge that we are waiting here still for every tear to be wiped away. I think of the waiting for the Christ child, yes, and I think of the still-waiting for all things to be made right, for our longing for Shalom. Would we be so filled with joy at his arrival if we weren’t so filled with longing already? If Christmas is for the joy, then Advent is for the longing.” (Sarah Bessey)

Recently i have started to understand the waiting.
I thought I knew.
Waiting in lines so deep at Target they are wrapped around the cosmetic counter.
Waiting for the bell.
Waiting for acceptance letters to come.

But I didn’t know.

Waiting and longing for what you know will happen doesn’t seem to count. That is just marking time. Waiting when you don’t know. When you aren’t sure. Hoping when there is nothing else to do. Those are lessons I have learned the hard way.

Weeks ago I was desperate and empty.
Now I feel less of that.
More hopeful. More peaceful. Making my way towards joyful.

I wasn’t sure where trust fit into all this until today when I read Sarah Bessey’s post on week three which is joy:
“So I didn’t learn to practice joy until I learned to practice grief, and I didn’t learn how to do either one of those things well until I learned that God can be trusted.”

Trusted to show up to a tired and scared to teenage girl over 2000 years ago.
Trusted to show up to a tired and scared mother today.

Every night during this season in my house we light a candle and let just a little of it burn down. The days are marked. The wax melts.
The candle burns down and some of the edges and the pain and the hard seems to melt down as well.

The songs get easier to sing.
The pain has eased.
The silence is less loud.
The darkness is filled with candlelight.
with hope.
with peace.
with joy.

hope.full.
joy.full.

peace.full.

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