It’s the last day of November, and I am scrambling around trying to get the house ready for the decorations I promised the kids I would bring out tomorrow. It’s not looking like I will get everything done on my list. Which seems to be the reality most days, especially with a toddler who can pull things out faster than I put them away.
Our dining room table is at this moment covered with styrofoam shipping popcorn, bananas from the gas station, the neighbour’s mittens, assorted Duplo creations, current family read-alouds, Christmas cards in progress, and (storebought) gingersnap cookie crumbs. I’d post a picture if I could find my camera . . .
The older I get the more I realize there’s no such thing as ever being “ready” for Christmas, or even Advent for that matter. And paralysis can set in with the pressure we put on ourselves when our reality doesn’t match our ideal.
So I’m here to say, if you’re that person whose dining room table looks like mine when everyone else you know seems to have their Advent act together, just take a deep breath. It’s ok. It’s ok if you buy your cookies at the bakery. It’s ok if you don’t have a handmade Jesse tree, or 24 days of seasonal fun meticulously planned out. It’s ok if you lost the plan, or feel like you’ve lost the plot. It’s ok if you don’t have an ounce of energy to think about all this, or even a smidgen of Christmas spirit.
That’s not the point of Advent. Advent is not a time to show the world how much we’ve got it together. Just the opposite.
Advent is a time to acknowledge our mess, and be ok with it. Not because we like the mess, but because there is some One who loves us despite our mess.
The best preparation is the kind that makes your heart whisper, I can’t do this. Advent is for the hungry, the empty, the lonely, the lost, and the ones with yesterday’s dishes still in the sink. Advent is for the ones who long for something more, something beyond themselves and their abilities. Something that mere decoration can never bring.
It’s right there in Mary’s song:
He has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
but the rich He has sent away empty. (Luke 1:52-53)
This is the song of the woman who was preparing for the birth of Jesus. This is the attitude of Advent. And it’s all you need to experience the good things God wants to give you. Not. a. single. thing. more.
The reality of Advent is for your real life. If we need some perfect preparation to welcome the mercy of the manger, that’s not good news at all.
So, yes, I am going to clear the table and maybe even sweep the floor. (Jesus may have been born in a barn, but that’s not the look I’m going for, at least not this year.) And make supper for my family, and keep going with the never-ending list. And smile through the inevitable chaos of decorating with kids and the grand design plans of a seven year old. (Please remind me of this tomorrow!)
But I will remember, at the end of another day, it’s ok. Whatever keeps me humble will also keep me ready.
Abraham’s Advent GIVEAWAY WINNERS
Advent begins this Sunday! If you’re looking to journey through Advent with another guy who didn’t always have his act together, might I suggest Abraham’s Advent? It’s a four week devotional that gets right to the heart of Christmas.
I will be giving away TWO copies of Abraham’s Advent (downloadable PDF, worth $7 each).
Just comment on THIS post with your favourite Christmas carol or song to be entered into the giveaway. 🙂 Entry deadline: Saturday, December 2, 6pm (EST).
Feel free to share the giveaway on social media! Winners will be announced Saturday evening!
UPDATE: Our two randomly chosen winners are Thea and Jessica Collins!
Thea and Jessica, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send your copy of Abraham’s Advent on its way! 🙂
Happy almost Advent.