Still stuck in Advent

I’m supposed to be happy that Christmas happened. After four weeks of waiting, of preparing, of looking forward to a new season, I’m supposed to be happy that it finally came, that we could celebrate God Incarnate – God’s very presence with us here on earth.

The Christmas season is to be one of celebration, comfort and joy. It is a time to celebrate Emmanuel – God with us. Christ has arrived. Christ has come. God is with us.

Now as Christmas has moved into Epiphany, we continue to celebrate Jesus’ life: His baptism, His bringing light to the world. All in all, these weeks are to be a time of gladness and joy because God has finally revealed himself to the world in the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Christ has come. God is with us.

But the truth is, I don’t feel like I belong in this season. I feel like I’m still stuck in Advent.

You see, I’m in a funny place in life right now. I like to phrase it as, “a time of transition”. After doing the work of discerning that my former path in life was no longer the path I was called to be on, I left it. I stepped off that path. Little did I know that stepping off that path would mean entering the wilderness. I now find myself completely unsure of where to go next, completely unsure of what to do next, and wandering through this uncertainty can feel like an isolating and lonely experience.

So Advent feels like home for me. In the season of Advent, I felt justified in my directionless wandering and waiting. It felt like I was joined by the whole liturgical church, who was wandering in expectant preparation of the life-changing event of Christ’s birth and dwelling among us. Now Advent is long-gone… but I’m still waiting. I’m still looking forward – preparing for something big and life-changing. Suddenly, I don’t fit in this season. Now I am to be filled with the sense that everything is alright because… Christ has come. The church is celebrating his presence. But I’m still stuck back here in the desert.

As you can imagine, during this time, I have done a lot of thinking. Not just about jobs and career paths, but about calling. About vocation. About my identity as a faithful child of God.

I think of biblical stories where God has so clearly called to his people, where he reveals himself to them and then their purpose and way forward becomes so clear, where wanderers are given new names and identities.

I think of Abraham – being called to leave his country and follow the LORD to a new place.

I think of Moses – actually meeting the LORD in a flaming bush, and given a clear directive, a new purpose and identity.

I think of the Israelites – being led by God, in a pillar of cloud and fire, out of the wilderness and into the land they were promised.

And I think of Paul – seeing and hearing the LORD on the way to Damascus, and being told to continue into the city to receive further instruction.

No, the call was not always easy to follow – but at least it was clear.

I find myself getting frustrated with God for not revealing his plans for me. It feels like I am waiting for God to be revealed, to be present, to call me to whatever he would have me do. “God, just tell me. You’ve done it before for others. Just come to me. Be here and show me what to do. Work newness and resurrection into my life. Give me new life. Isn’t that what you do?”

I want to believe it.

I guess I have started seeing “God’s presence in my life” and “my vocational direction and calling” as one and the same. When I don’t feel that calling and direction in my life, it begins to feel like God himself is absent from me.

So I’m trying to separate those things. I’m trying to embrace the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany. I’m trying to understand what it means to celebrate God’s presence with me, even in my waiting, even as I try to prepare for His coming, even when I am still looking forward with expectant hope to a new season of my own.

Emily Ritz is a student of physics and theology, who loves learning about the beauty of the world and sharing it with others. She currently spends time trying to find meaningful ways to integrate those interests.

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