Tis the Season...to be overloaded, overwhelmed, and stressed out. Don't get me wrong I do get a subtle thrill from Tacky Christmas Sweater parties, corny yet comforting Christmas music blaring from speakers all around me, and all the holiday glitz and glamor that floods our lives this time of year. However, this year, as I begin to feel that familiar tug into a frazzled, frantic holiday state of mind I am stopping to remind myself of something. While thousands of us struggle to prepare for the holidays amidst a grim economy and political turmoil, something is happening in the church. It's the Season of Advent, the Season of Waiting.
I was lucky enough to make it home for a few days this past Thanksgiving and even got to go to my lovely home church of Edgewood. Sid, my super awesome pastor, preached an inspiring sermon on waiting that really got me thinking. My thoughts continued when I saw the cover of the Presbyterian Outlook magazine: An hour glass with the title: Learning to Wait. Our brains, our bodies have been programmed not to wait. Whenever we find ourselves in line at a store we immediately pull out our phones or grab a magazine, desperate for something to occupy us so we won't be stuck with ourselves. Just like Sid said in his sermon, we flock to those flashing NO WAITING signs in restaurants, malls, and coffee shops. Anything, anything, to keep us from stopping, from standing still, from taking a break and just being alone with ourselves and God.
This may sound rather silly, but I was waiting for something to download on the computer the other day and decided to challenge myself to simply...wait for it. Sitting there staring at the screen I felt my heart begin to pound, my knees begin to shake, and my mind beginning to go into to overdrive. I couldn't believe how hard my body was fighting what seemed like such a simple task! Could it be that I have submerged myself so deep in sensory overload that my brian literally does not know what to do when I make it just sit there? Thoughts bubbled to the top of the ocean in my head, conflicts that I am avoiding, things on my never ending mental to do list that have been pushed aside, and all sorts of negative feelings that I just don't want to deal with. My life has become a defense mechanism, a series of constant distractions so I don't have to deal with the stuff buried deep. So I don't have to deal with myself or talking to God about the truth behind my feelings.
Perhaps, it is in being with ourselves that God's voice finally rises above the rest. As we wait, we realize what is really eating away at us, what is really down there inside of us. It's surprising, uncomfortable, and difficult and that is why our brains are wired to avoid such stillness. However, we confuse the practice of being still with doing nothing. And who wants to waste their time doing nothing when there is so much to do do do? But by being with God and our thoughts we are doing far more for ourselves then the mindless actions that make up a great deal of our lives. We are finding that inner voice, realigning that inner compass, and ultimately saving ourselves from a spiritual death.
So this Season of Advent, I encourage everyone to take a break from the madness and think about what it means to wait and actually give it a try. Your brain and your body will put up heavy resistance at first but continue through that feeling. On the other side, you will find something. Yourself.
Christ is coming. Let us not be anxious but thankful, joyful. And most importantly, let us wait.