Waiting is hard.
Waiting for Christmas.
Waiting for time off work.
Waiting for lie-ins.
Waiting for the turkey to roast.
Waiting for family to arrive.
Waiting for your dad to wake up from his post-dinner nap on the sofa.
As I learn more about the Anglican Church calendar – doing my bit as a future vicar’s wife. I now know that we are currently in Advent – a time of waiting, a time of preparation. A time of expectant waiting for Jesus, of waiting for the baby in a manger, of waiting for God to present himself in human form.
December should have been a time of waiting for me.
A time of waiting for a baby.
Our daughter was due on the 31st December. We should have been waiting for her. Preparing for her arrival. But we’re not. My tummy isn’t stretched. Our spare room doesn’t have a cot. My hospital bag isn’t packed. As I wait this Advent, there’s only one heart beating inside me instead of two.
We’re not waiting for a baby any more.
I normally try to forget the dates of when our babies were due. I fear the weight of what might have been would become too great. But this date – New Year’s Eve, is not so easy to forget. This baby is not so easy to forget either, we knew more about her than any of her siblings. We knew she was a girl, we knew when she died, we knew she was severely disabled. The knowing makes it more real, there is evidence, there are papers in the hospital that testify to her existence, her heartbeat, her size, her genetics.
This Advent the doors on my advent calendar are building up to the grand reveal of that celebrated image of a baby in a manger, of Mary watching her new-born son as he sleeps, full of the glow of motherhood. The angels surrounding them, shepherds, and wise men bowing at the small wooden manger filled with straw that holds a sleeping baby, unable to speak, unable to even hold his head. Is this the God I am waiting for? A baby?
Our God, the Creator, omnipotent, arrived on earth through the miracle of conception. He subjected himself to the fragility of life growing and developing within the womb. He submitted to weakness as his mother brought him into this world, her breath held until she felt his, until she heard the cries of life, lungs filling with air, heart beating. Advent is about remembering, celebrating that God made himself weak, he accepted humanity to connect with us.
But Jesus did not remain a baby.
He grew. He healed. He taught. He cared. He cried. He laughed. He ate. He drank. He had friends. He fed others. He went fishing. He slept. He forgave. He challenged. He suffered. He died. He rose again.
The celebration of Christmas is not about waiting for a baby.
As I think about waiting I am challenged to think about what or who I worship in the waiting. Can I dare even challenge myself to think of that which I long for with the greatest intensity being that which I also worship? Am I waiting for a baby – my baby? Am I waiting for the baby Jesus? Am I waiting for Jesus the healer? Saviour? Redeemer?
The pain of waiting is often forgotten when we receive the good thing we have waited for. The nine month wait for a baby is soon lost when a bloated tummy is replaced by a babe in arms. But, unfortunately we don’t always receive what we wait for, and sometimes we just don’t know when the waiting will be over. We wait now in advent yes, to celebrate the birth and life of Jesus, but also to remember the waiting room we are still in as we wait for Jesus to return. Advent is also about remembering that Jesus will come again, He has promised to return. But this doesn’t mean we’re stuck in a waiting room with soft jazz and trashy magazines from the 90’s. Waiting can be hard, but we are called to live as we wait, to engage in the waiting rather than sit passively for our number to be called.
I never thought I’d have anything in common with Mary as she celebrated the news of her pregnancy. But her response challenges me. She didn’t allow her present situation to affect her response to the news that, as an unmarried teenager she had become pregnant. Instead, she celebrated because she lived in the promises of God’s faithfulness. Her identity was not found in how society saw her, it was rooted in God’s promises – in which she rejoiced. Mary was also in the waiting room, but she chose to live in the reality of the full and final picture of the kingdom of God, instead of losing herself in waiting for the birth of the baby she had been promised.
I’m not waiting for a baby this advent. Not the baby Jesus, and not baby Lowrie. As this single heartbeat thumps through my body, pumping blood and life into me I wait for Jesus the healer, the teacher, the one who loves with tears, the Saviour, the Redeemer.
Come Lord Jesus.
So moving Lizzie x
Thanks Chris. Thanks for your encouragement. Hope you guys have a great Christmas xxx
Thank you Lizzie for writing this (it could not have been easy). Waiting is always so difficult and waiting to see the Kingdom established can be heart aching – here we see so few signs of progress it can even be depressing.
Thanks Pam. It’s so true that we are waiting for so many different things whilst we’re here on earth both personally and as a family in Christ. I pray for encouragement for you and Bob this Christmas and for energy and new vision to inspire you in your work. Your faithfulness is an inspiration. Lots of love xxxx
We’ve been so challenged about advent waiting this year, about seeing the wait as a season in its own right rather than a countdown. This blog captures some of the thoughts beautifully. Praying the waiting is full of more amazing people and amazing memories, and sending love for New Year’s Eve x
Thanks so much Naomi. I think what you say about waiting being a period in its own right is so true and such a challenge. I’ve felt personally challenged by how I wait as I’m normally rubbish at waiting! Hope you guys have a lovely Christmas. Xxxx
Thank you Lizzie for saying the hard stuff. Thinking of you all on December 31st, my single heartbeat thumping in time with yours. x
Thanks Wendy. I hope you have a lovely Christmas. Feel so much comfort that we are able to share in this journey. Xxxx
Lizzie you are an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing in your suffering. This helps, I feel, all who suffer. The blogs from all 4 of you have certainly helped me. Your faith is incredible! All of you!
Thank you so much Martha. I’m glad it helps. Sending lots of love to you and hoping you have a peaceful Christmas. Xxxx
Advent needs to be experienced, just like you, my dear sister in Christ,have and are experiencing it. Maranatha, Come, Lord Jesus!
Thank you so much for your encouragement. I pray that you will know God’s blessing in your life this Advent. X
Thank you for sharing your insight and feelings. Holding you and yours in my prayers.
Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers. X
Not sure if you will see this as I am responding to one of your older blogs but I came across your blog and wanted to let you know that your words have been so encouraging even though they came out of pain. As we were half way through celebrating Advent this year (2014) we lost our first baby through miscarriage at 11 weeks a few days ago. We were so excited about becoming parents and every day I felt truly blessed by God to be pregnant and protecting such a precious new life. It has come as a tragic shock to tell family and friends about a miscarriage rather than our baby news just before Christmas and I have never felt so pained in every way. The future we were waiting for has to be re-written now, but out of all this sorrow my husband and I have become even closer than before and since our baby has gone we have prayed together every night, which is very special. Bizarrely, the more I share our sad news with friends and family the closer I feel to the Scott Polar statue you mention elsewhere but I have some way to go still. I am striving to give my burden and anxieties to God and pray that he will bless us with a healthy child, but in the meantime I pray that I may help others through acts of kindness and empathy. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, they ring true to me. God bless, V
Dear Verity thank you so much for your message, I’m so glad you’ve found the blog posts helpful, at times I can still wonder whether it’s just me feeling like this! I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I can identify with all the emotions you’ve described and healing is never a quick process. It sounds as though you’ve been so brave in being able to share your story and I’m so glad to hear that you have had support as you and your husband have grieved and that this experience has deepened your relationship. I really hope that this Christmas is a time of peace, that there may be time to remember what is lost but that it can also be a time of hope. Thank you once again for sharing your story, please know that I stand with you in the pain and the questions lots of love xxx
Thank you for such a quick and kind response – such words and knowing that I am not alone either gives me strength. Just remember in times of darkness, that although you may not feel it, you are a light and a beacon to others! I hope you may also have a joyful Christmas and New Year and that you may feel the peace, love and calming influence of the Holy Spirit when you are reminded of your losses too. Love and God bless, V