oh, advent started out hopeful for me. and then this past week i tanked.
the trouble is that i actually tanked myself. i did the thing i should not do, should not do, should not do. i read too much online. i looked at too many other churches’ websites. i read about $40 million building campaigns and all the reasons why that is somehow a good idea, i saw new buildings completely paid for thanks to an influx of millions. i saw male pastor after male pastor after male pastor. i saw female ministry assistant after female children’s director after female ministry associate. i saw series that are influencing thousands of young people on biblical manhood and biblical womanhood and “the importance of upholding certain roles that God has designed specifically for men and women.” i even did the unthinkable: i hit “play” on some promo videos. don’t ask me what i was thinking, i knew it was a terrible, horrible, awful idea, but i couldn’t stop myself. (john, quit shaking your head right now, i know, i know, i know).
and it came up on the heels of last week standing in target starting to cry when i realized we were $400 over budget on buying all-the-stuff-a-homeless-single-mom-and-her-4-children need to move in to transitional housing. the refuge is re-doing the room & our budget is so tight right now that i have been stressed. and a little scared. we have always squeaked by, but it just is hard when it’s always so freaking tight financially. of course, it will work out. it always does. every single time, some little gift from above makes the difference, manna drops from heaven, and we eat.
that’s not the issue. sure, part of the issue is with the “system” that drives me nuts, and many of us know that so many “church” resources are horribly misallocated. the issue really is with me. it is that i sometimes can’t seem to keep the tunnel vision i most desperately need. when i am focused on what is right before me–hurting, beautiful, doubting, hoping people who are trying to figure out life, love, and God all mixed together, i am fine. it’s glorious. it’s wonderful. it’s hard but good. it’s when i look up too long, when i focus on all that is “wrong” with a system that i cannot in any way, shape or form fix, that things go awry in my spirit. and i lose hope.
a huge piece of advent is focused on waiting, hoping, expecting. i had this realization (yet again, it’s not like it’s brand new) that i am waiting, hoping, expecting for some of the wrong things. i keep waiting for a sugar daddy to rescue the refuge and make our lives-with-people-in-hard-places easier. i keep waiting for someone “powerful” to believe in us (even though all of the underdogs seem to love us; please forgive me for sometimes not honoring properly your love, i am beginning to see all the wild and beautiful ways we have had help and encouragement in very tangible, manna-from-heaven-like ways, it just hasn’t come from the places i wanted it to–people with lots and lots of money, ha!). i keep waiting for equality in the churches so many of my friends attend, knowing it’s probably realistically never going to happen there. i keep waiting to “belong” to something that will make me feel valued and supported in more than just words from afar. yes, i am waiting, hoping, expecting some of the wrong things. i know this. this isn’t news to me. but i think somehow this weekend i got a glimpse of how expecting the wrong things guides more of me than i wish. that it is subtly robbing me of peace and freedom. it steals my hope. and i let it.
so, something is shifting today. i confess, God, i often am waiting, hoping, expecting the wrong things. i guess once again i am like the israelites–wanting a strong and powerful-in-the-worldly-ways messiah and ending up with a little baby in a manager who changed all the rules.
yes, my life is a gift. the people in my life are a gift. they have provided in ways that no sugar daddy could have ever provided. they have encouraged and loved and shown up and supported in ways that money and power can never buy. i have more than enough of the things that really matter.
so enough whining. enough torturing myself online. enough waiting, hoping, expecting the wrong things.
Jesus awaits. the kingdom awaits. it’s here, now. the wild and beautiful upside down story where all the things that “make sense” don’t really make sense. where the last will be first and the first will be last. where “daily bread” sustains. where shelter and help comes from the least likely of people. where we turn the other cheek. where we heap kindness on our enemies. where we focus on our own log and not worry about our brother’s speck. where we learn that love hurts sometimes. and grace seems to pool up in the lowest of places.
that i can wait for, hope for, expect, and actually experience.
i know it looks different for everyone. some of you might obsess about the same things i do, for others you don’t have church psycho-ness and your waiting, hoping, expecting is related to things completely different. but my guess is many of us might be stuck waiting, hoping, expecting something that probably isn’t coming. and in the midst of all that isn’t, we might miss what is.
this advent, i’m not going to miss it.
as always, i love to hear your thoughts & experiences.
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christine sine is hosting a lovely series of posts this season called “advent: what are we waiting for?” check them out if you get a chance, a good mixture of thoughts & perspectives.