-by Peggy Hahn (She/Her), Executive Director of LEAD
Waiting is not our favorite. We are more attuned to immediate gratification. Sigh.
To the extent that we feel impatient, we reveal something about our story. Our culture, ethnicity, and ancestry weigh in. Just to say this more clearly, the more privilege we have in society, the more impatient we tend to be. The heartbreaking truth is that knowing hunger, living in unsafe spaces or places, and being neglected or abused tends to grow lower expectations for, well, for pretty much everything.
Healing is fragile. It includes feeling good enough, being heard or even known, and accepted as our real self. Healing begins to stir up a desire for more.
What does this have to do with our Advent homework to “Tell the Story”? (Read part one in this series here).
Feelings of joy come from God. This is very different from happiness that comes and goes depending on any number of circumstances or experiences. So, we can buy gifts that offer moments of happiness, but there are not pretty decorations, parties, or cookies to fill us with real joy. Not everyone knows this, so they just keep shopping.
We are born for joy. We know it when we experience it, but we can’t manufacture it. On one hand, there is nothing special about an unwed mother giving birth in a barn. Admittedly, it is meaningful for the mom to have the dad with her and to have visitors honoring the child. But it is everything to feel the love of God in this moment. God shows up for the whole world in this baby.
The same God is still showing up. We may even miss the moment. Our own insecurities or sadly, the ways we have been told we are not good enough, may get in the way. It is unbearable to think about the number of children raised in homes where they are not affirmed for who they are – that is not “of God.” God’s love is beyond any limit someone might set for anyone at any age – this is the story to tell.
Every time you share this love story by loving someone for who they are, by setting boundaries when people are not loving towards you, or flat out standing up for people who are being mocked, bullied, abused, or neglected, you are showing up as God. This is the homework. Use these questions to discuss this with others:
- When it comes to waiting, on a scale of 1-10 (1 being low or impatient and 10 being high, or lots of patience), where do you see yourself? What do you think this says about yourself?
- Give an example of the difference between happiness and joy. When have you experienced joy? Share about a moment you felt God’s love.
- Think about a person in your life who needs to feel God’s unconditional love right now. How can you support them in experiencing God’s love?
- How does the Advent season help you create space to tell the story of God’s love for all people, without exception?