Thoughts on Advent and a Farewell to Social Media

I have never been more excited about the season of Advent. For those who may not be familiar with the Church Year, Advent is the season leading up to Christmas Eve. It is comprised of four Sundays and is meant as a time of preparation. It is a time of anticipation as we celebrate the waiting that occurred for Jesus to be born as well as the anticipation of Jesus returning at some point in our temporal future.

It’s a season of waiting, a season of hope, a season of anticipation.

Last year, Advent held deeper significance for me than it has in the past. My life drastically changed the Monday before Advent began. There was something important to me about life as I knew it ending and a new reality beginning as the church year ended and began again. The timing in every other aspect of my life was terrible (in between holidays, a couple of weeks before finals, etc). However, the significance of Advent stood out in my mind beyond the others and it was comforting knowing that Lord had my life under his control even though it felt like it was spiraling out of control and that there was no way I would ever be able to recover.

This year has been an incredible journey. I have learned so much about myself, about friendship, about Jesus, love, hurt, honesty, beauty, gratefulness, contentment, joy, peace, faithfulness, confidence, pain, understanding, forgiveness, and grace. I’ve learned so much about grace.

I’m thrilled that the season of Advent begins in just a few days. I love it. I am so excited for what the Lord has to teach me in the next year. I want to be intentional about the season of Advent and use it to truly prepare my heart for what the Lord has in store for me.

Last year Advent was a season of pain, of doubt, of questioning the Lord, asking “why?!” over and over, a season of tears, a season of trusting even though I didn’t want to. This year Advent is what it should be: a season of waiting, hope, and anticipation. That anticipation and excitement for my future has me almost giddy as I sit and type this out. I do not know what my future holds, but I am excited about it, because no matter what it holds Jesus will be in the midst of it.

In light of this season, I am taking an extended break from social media. I was convicted by a blog post by my friend Haley as well as a video that was posted on Facebook (ha!).

So goodbye Facebook and Instagram. I am hoping that the time I spend on social media will be put to better, more productive uses of my time.  I want to focus on the relationships that I have with people and with Jesus. I believe that unplugging for the season of Advent (at least) will help me to shift my priorities, focus on the quality of my friendships, and help me enjoy this season to its fullest.

May the season of Advent be filled with joy and peace for you throughout the waiting, hope and anticipation. 

AdventUnplugged

Growth Through Pain

Pain sucks. Being hurt is horrible. Having to face your own brokenness is hard and can feel impossible. But it can bring so much beauty and life.

I love the idea of “growth.” I love the images that it paints in my head. Sometimes I can see my personal growth and my growth in my relationship with Jesus as a flower. It starts small, pops out of the earth, and slowly becomes something more. It starts beautiful, a simple bit of green among the earth, and with work (the plant takes an active role through photosynthesis) grows more and more beautiful.

Growth through pain gives me a completely different image. I think of an adolescent going through a growth spurt. As a short girl I never experienced this kind of soreness and ache myself, but I can only imagine what it must feel like to grow several inches in one summer. A crisis is like the starting point of the stretching that happens as bone, muscles, ligaments, etc. all work together to make a person grow.

But when the stretching is done, you stand taller.

My intense spiritual and emotional growth spurts seem to be slowing down. I’m thankful for the opportunity to rest. I’m thankful for the opportunity to dwell in gratitude for what the Lord has done. I’m thankful for the time to process everything I’ve learned. I’m thankful that I can stand taller, more confident in my relationship with Jesus and myself. I’m thankful for everything I’ve learned.

I’m thankful for the intense growth spurt. I’m thankful for the pain. In so many, many ways, I am thankful for the pain.

Honesty

I have been pondering these lyrics from The Classic Crime’s  song “When the Time Comes” (here is the song if you’re interested: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KPAdIoNn5q4)

“Why do we always say we’re fine,
when it’s obvious we’re lying?
Why don’t we ever tell the truth,
what have we got to lose?”

I have had some really honest conversation in the past few months. I love it. Vulnerability is so great. All of these conversations begin because one of us is willing to step out in boldness and share something deeply personal. This can be really scary. There is always the chance of rejection. But when rejection doesn’t occur, the depth of friendship increases by an unbelievable amount.

I used to get so frustrated that so few conversations of my conversations were going deeper than surface level. And then I realized, I expect the other person to take the first step in vulnerability. I respond really well to that; if you take the first step I will be glad to follow. However, I can’t have it both ways. I can’t wait for other people to take the initiative in total honesty and vulnerability AND get frustrated that so many relationships are surface level.

So here’s to taking initiative. Let’s stop pretending that we have our lives together and that we’ve figured everything out. Let’s be honest and share our lives with each other in a real, honest way. Let’s process together, be joyful together, mourn together. Let’s not say things because it’s what the other person wants to hear, even if it’s not what we truly believe. Let’s not say we are fine when in reality we are horrible or when in reality we are doing amazingly well. Let’s grow together and learn from each other.

Let’s be honest, because honesty is contagious and we will all be happier when we stop pretending to be people we are not.