A few weeks ago, I was sitting in Atlanta traffic screaming at the giant semi-truck in front of me to go so I could get to where I was going.
When I went to Disney in October, the longest line in which we waited was so we could eat lunch in the Beast’s castle. I complained internally the whole 45 minutes.
Yesterday, I was trying to get diapers at the Dollar General and stepped in line right behind two guys who were seemingly doing all their holiday shopping in one trip.
I heard that on Black Friday, people stood outside in the cold for hours waiting to get into stores. Perhaps you waited like this on Black Friday (or earlier).
I don’t like to wait. I’m impatient. I’m like being in control of what I do and prefer not to have something impeding my supposed progress.
Many years ago, I read a comic book story about a guy who had super speed powers named Quicksilver. He was also a grade-A jerk to everyone. In the story I read, the superhero team Quicksilver was on went to a psychiatrist after a particularly nasty battle. The psychiatrist asked him why he was always so rude to everyone. Here’s the scene (story by Peter David & art by Joe Quesada):
I often feel like Quicksilver.
That’s exactly why I need Advent.
Advent is the most backward season of the year. There is no rushing around in Advent. There is no foot-tapping or eye-rolling or watch-gazing in Advent. There is no pounding in our heads telling us we’re going to be late in Advent. There’s no hurried decorating or cleaning for company in Advent.
I’m not trying to be contrary, but I know how my life feels at this time of year. And then I go to church and hear things like this:
Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD! Isaiah 2:5
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. James 5:7
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus. Matthew 1:25
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…I haven’t even touched the Advent hymns!
Advent is about waiting. Waiting for what, you may ask?
The other day, I saw this great TED Talk by Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast. He talks about the key to happiness being gratitude, but in order to cultivate gratitude, we have to “Stop, look, and go.” He says we have to stop this madness of our lives so we can see the opportunities to be grateful. You can’t see anything if you’re going too fast. Go watch that talk. If we hear what Steindl-Rast is saying, if we wait, profound happiness will emerge.
So Advent is a time of waiting, but if you’re like me, then you’re moving too fast to even know if what you’re waiting for is here. Advent gives us the chance to slow down, but we’re flailing around like bratty kids trying to accomplish something meaningless. Advent is more like really thick honey on the verge of cascading over the lip of a mason jar. It’s so close and so sweet, but takes time to pour.
I bet you a million gazillion dollars if you spend some quality waiting time this Advent, you’ll unlock some great cheer that has been wanting to emerge but has been blocked by the entropy of impatience.
Quit flailing. Let Advent win. Practice waiting and see the opportunities for joy and peace that come to you. You might find Christ has been waiting on you the whole time.