What we are doing is often mistaken as a mark of a mature Christian more than who we are becoming.
Advent is all about expectation.
Twenty Four Years ago today, December 10th, I buried my infant son.
Twenty four months ago, the effects of the traumatic loss were drastically, dramatically, and painfully revealed for the last time, when I experienced an event that triggered that time in my life.
For eight years previous to the event of two years ago, a lifetime of suppressed grief had finally begun to heal, and heal deeply. Twenty-four months ago the wound was badly re-injured, revealing the need for it to be permanently closed.
The work of grief and the work of “being,” as an important aspect of Christian growth, has been replaced by doing. We are too busy, too, too rushed, too broke, too involved, too stressed, too overwhelmed, have too many commitments – simply too “over-everything,” to actually slow down enough to sit at the feet of Jesus and give ourselves time to feel.
“Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us. The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.” Henri Nouwen
I see this most clearly at this time of the year – a time which represents the birth of the King of Kings, and the second coming of the Prince of Peace. It is a time to be still, to know, and to be.
You can’t heal, from what you can’t feel. It is like a person with nerve damaged feet, trying to prevent frostbite when they can’t feel the cold. The damage has already been done when it becomes visible.
So it is with pain.
To feel means pain, and pain is a hindrance to the false image of our ability to handle everything that is thrown at us. We are over-medicated, overindulged, over committed, and over extended. Somehow, “busy” has become the new answer to, “How are you?”
The results? Anxiety is now the number one reason for doctor visits.
Busy keeps us from having to delve deeply into who we are. Busy keep us from becoming Christ-like.
What we are doing, has become more important than who we are becoming. Success is measured in events, toys, jobs, careers, sports, church growth, money – all things which represent our own image instead of the image of Jesus.
We see the 80/20 principle applied here – 20% of people are doing all the work in a church or ministry, while 80% are not doing any of the work. I have to stop and wonder how many of the 80% are doing it because they are driven – falsely finding themselves in the work they do, instead of in Christ.
I’ve been there. I lived there after Micaiah died. My kids were raised there. Work. Do. Don’t be. Don’t see.
“They are committed members of the church…attending every service, as well as helping every time the doors are opened. They tithe faithfully, and have been Sunday school teachers for 15 years. You cannot find more willing servants in the church anywhere.”
That is a great reference, but it wouldn’t tell me who a person is, just what they do. Actions don’t always speak to the depth of a person’s relationship with God, or with each other.
What would happen if someone wrote a reference that said, “I have never met a more Christ-like person in my life. Each year I have seen him/her change more into the image and likeness of Christ so I know that surely they have been with Jesus.”
Twenty four months ago Jesus began to close my healing wound for good. He said, “Look in there, Jamie and tell me what you see.” I tried to avoid it – as I had been avoiding it for a long, long, time. I didn’t like what I saw. I had avoided the pain of the death of our son, the PTSD label, the traumatic grief, the spiritual abuse, the shame – for so many years that it had festered into something ugly. Something more painful than the death itself. Eight years ago I accepted and acknowledged it for what it was.
Eight years ago the healing began.
But twenty-four months ago, Jesus was asking me to see myself with the same love and forgiveness that He did. He wanted me to look into the raw wound and see grace. To forgive myself for the years of traumatic grief that my children endured; for the years of loss and pain and legalism, and anger.
“Even when I’ve hurt the ones I love most Lord?” “Especially when you’ve hurt the ones you love the most.”
“But Jesus, you never had to forgive yourself, you were perfect in relationship.” “Exactly. So sit here quietly with me. Do not move, or work. Be with me. Just be. ”
Jesus revealed the years we confused works with growth, quiet for peace, happiness for joy, sin management for grace filled acceptance. He taught me not to confuse religious expectations with genuine friendships, or to accept wearing a mask in the place of His grace. I no longer confuse Christians with Christ, or aspire to be someone else who I thought was more spiritual than I.
I am the most spiritual person I know.
After all, I am the only person I know.
And only Jesus really knows me. He is enough.
Dave is next, and Jesus reveals Himself through Dave to me, and through me to Dave. Such is the way of love that has endured the floods and fires together. It becomes a bond made of Titanium.
For wounds to close, we have to be still. We have to be willing to sit with Jesus long enough for Him to speak into our healing.
My son was born, and died, during the second week of advent; the week most commonly known as the week of Love, Peace, or Expectation.
Without the pain, I wouldn’t know true Hope.
Without the pain, I couldn’t know the healing given by the Son of God, born in a stable in Bethlehem.
Immanuel – God with us.
“The birth of Christ is the central event in the history of the earth — the very thing the whole story has been about.” — C.S. Lewis
Happy Birthday Micaiah James. I wait with expectation. “I’ve never been more homesick than now…” Mercy Me