After my mom died, the saddest day for me wasn’t the holidays, her birthday, or the anniversary of her passing, it was MY birthday. Every year on my birthday, my mom would tell me the story of my birth. Like I hadn’t ever heard it before. She had such a sweet smile on her face as she replayed that day in her mind. It was sad when that first-hand account was gone.
I do the same for my kids now. I torture them on their birthdays with text updates throughout the day reliving their actual birth day. Texts like “Oh, labor pains just started” or “off to the hospital.” (By the time it gets to their actual birth they don’t respond to their texts anymore.) Well I think it’s fun.
Advent is a time when we ponder and prepare for a birth. The physical birth of Jesus, the Christ child. We are also called to ponder and prepare for our own birthing of Jesus personally in our hearts in a new and deeper way.
We can learn how to prepare our hearts for this birth of Jesus by looking at the behaviors of any expectant mother.
The preparation starts slowly as she begins to realize she’s not alone anymore. It’s not just about her anymore. There is a sense of a “We-ness”, a moving out of herself and into a love and compassion for the needs of another. A transition to selflessness. Every decision she makes is made with the welfare of another above herself.
She expects to be uncomfortable, to be stretched (no pun intended) outside her usual parameters. She expects to be forced into a new way of thinking, living, sitting, and tying her shoes during this time of waiting. There is a surrendering to these expectations. She trusts that they are all a part of this process of new life. They feel odd now but with time will become a new normal.
She anticipates, with great joy, the birth of this baby, but the heartburn and the swollen ankles try to steal the joy. The anticipation, though filled with challenges and unknowns, brings joy as long as she keeps her eyes on the prize. As long as she never doubts. As longs as she has hope.
So this Advent lets prepare our hearts to give birth.
Focus on cultivating a “We-ness” within ourselves. Reach out to others who need love. Put the welfare of others ahead of ourselves.
Expect and embrace changes in ourselves. As we take this time of Advent more seriously and want to shift our focus from how we have spent it in the past, we can expect to be changed. We can expect newness in our outlook. We can expect God to respond to that desire on our part and show us something new. It might feel odd, but embrace it and protect it. It may become your new normal.
And lastly, be joyful! Life is full of heartburn and swollen ankles, but it’s also full of goodness and love. Gifts from a God who cares. Look hard for it. Point it out to others who are having a hard time seeing it. Share the thrill of hope and keep your eyes on the prize this Advent.
Then someday you can tell Jesus all about the day he was born, in you…with a sweet smile on your face.