Eventually, something grows. 

I’m new to this Advent thing. My husband and I began attending a liturgical church just a few short years ago, and the rhythms of the church year still feel unfamiliar to my feet. To write about Advent, I confess I haven’t been quite sure what to say. This season hasn’t taken up residence in my bones yet.

So this morning I lay in bed, thinking about the words waiting and longing — those two words I find most associated with this season so far.

What are waiting and longing like? When I’ve experiencing either one in my life before, what was it like? What were my compulsions? How did I live through it? What did I do or not do?

Waiting for Faith

I think back to the bedrock moment of my faith, when scales fell from my eyes after a lifetime — 19 years at that point — of living inside faith, inside the church, inside belief in Jesus and in grace. It was a moment of realizing I didn’t know what all of it meant. It was a time of truth-telling, of acknowledging I couldn’t access a felt need for grace or Jesus in my life. What did it mean, and what now?

I sat down on the floor of my life and didn’t get up for two years. I was waiting for God’s answer. I was waiting for understanding and, perhaps, illumination.

It did come. And it’s still coming. But after two years of waiting, something broke through. New light.

What was the waiting like? It was stubborn. Determined. It had a “grit my teeth and dig in my heels” quality, for I knew something was here, underneath the soil in the places I couldn’t see.

It was setting down the unnecessary things, the activities I’d used to keep me busy and bolster my sense of confidence and identity.

It was stripping down to the bones.

It was watchfulness.

Staying alert.

Paying attention.

Longing for a Future Life

I think about the life I’m living now. A time of perpetual waiting, of excruciating longing. Waiting and longing for the life I’m moving toward — a vocation lived out in a full-sized way — to become realized.

It is a waiting that’s industrious, full of dreaming and creating and launching and learning and leaping and trying and reflecting and tweaking. I know that the life that is to come will not come in a flash, in an instant, but in a thousand tiny and big steps of truth, vision, and faithfulness.

This waiting is active. It’s alive. It’s living and breathing. It’s moving. Even as it is waiting.

This longing is real. It’s yearning toward a future truth. It’s touching a not-yet-realized reality.

And that breeds hope. And — thank God — patience.

Maybe this is what Advent means: a stripping down, a watchfulness, and even sometimes great activity.

How are longing and waiting in your life right now? How have they been in the past? 

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Christianne Squires, M.A., is a writer and spiritual director who lives in Winter Park, FL, with her husband and their two cats. Called to work at the intersection of spiritual formation and digital connectivity, she maintains Still Forming, a website offering contemplative reflection and online spiritual direction to seekers around the world. In 2013, she was named a New Contemplative by Spiritual Directors International.

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