Living Contentment Weekly. Contentvent. Here are your three ADVENT-contentment-related thoughts for today. Something for you to: read | do | pray
Contentvent – is what we’re calling this advent series on Contentment in the Advent season. During these four weeks of Advent that lead up to Christmas, we’re re-examining the same topics as last year. So here is week #2
Advent Week 2: PTSD, Advent, and family road trips
We find it especially hard to wait when what we’re experiencing as we wait is worse than normal.
It’s a different kind of waiting than waiting for your birthday as a kid. Sure you are waiting, but in the meantime, you ride bikes with your friends, play space Lego, etc etc.
That waiting is:
That’s not such a bad kind of waiting, because things are “normal”… then get better.
During my PTSD recovery, I had what felt like a very significant relapse in symptoms. I was going backwards, and that did not feel good. But my counselor told me it was a good sign of additional processing, healing, and progress. However, I had to continue to live with the daily reality of not being ‘back to normal.’ As I waited, things were not normal, they were worse than normal.
This is not at all the same kind of waiting.
This feels more like:
It often felt like I was once again that 8-year-old stuck in the back of our 1981 Ford Econoline van with his 4 siblings driving across the prairies. In order to get to Grandma’s house in time for Christmas Eve we’d drive through the pitch-black that only comes from living so far north of the equator, that by December the sun sets mid-afternoon. Rural highways so far from any town you can’t spot a single light even though you can see what feels like eternity in every direction. Hours, upon hours, upon hours of driving between snow-covered wheat fields, now hibernating for the winter.
Are we there yet?
Are we there yet?
What about NOW?
How much longer?
In some ways, Advent is the kid-waiting-for-his-birthday kind of waiting. We continue with our normal lives and know that there will be a pleasant change at the end.
However, as creatures made in the image of God, we constantly long for something more than this fallen world can offer.
Things around us are broken.
Life is hard.
Bad things happen to those we love.
Addictions are real.
The miracles Jesus performed were actually Him pulling back the curtain to show us what originally was, and what will be again when He returns.
He heals a man who can’t walk – since at some point there will again be no sickness.
He multiplies bread and fish – as there will someday be no hunger.
He calms the storm – as then, and only then, will be no fear.
He raises Lazarus from the grave – as finally there will be no death.
this is how I remember it at least….
THAT is what we long for, even when we don’t realize it.
We were not created to be trapped in the back of a van in the dark.
We were meant to be at our grandmother’s house, full of cousins, and relatives, and food, and drink, and presents, and singing, and laughing.
THAT is what our souls long for… and we will be restless in this waiting until we get there.
THAT is the second kind of Advent waiting.
Worse than normal, worse than normal, worse than normal —-> At some point this will end.
We know things aren’t right yet…but they won’t always be this way.
The most famous quotation of St Augustine’s is:
In what is now Algeria, Augustine grew up with a care-free life of influence, power, money, and friends. When he got older, he was hit with the realization that his life was empty. He finally understood he wasn’t living in an “every-day-IS-my-birthday” life of fun, but actually in a “are we there yet?” world troubled by sin.
What does this phrase mean to you?
Where does your heart feel restless?
What do you think your heart SHOULD feel restless about?
A Prayer of Augustine:
let me know and love you,
so that I may find my happiness in you.
Since I cannot fully achieve this on earth,
help me to improve daily until I may do so to the full.
Enable me to know you ever more on earth,
so that I may know you perfectly in heaven.
Enable me to love you ever more on earth,
so that I may love you perfectly in heaven.
In that way my joy may be great on earth,
and perfect with you in heaven.
O God of truth, grant me the happiness of heaven
so that my joy may be full in accord with your promise.
In the meantime let my mind dwell on that happiness,
my tongue speak of it,
my heart pine for it,
my mouth pronounce it,
my soul hunger for it,
my flesh thirst for it,
and my entire being desire it
until I enter through death in the joy of my Lord forever.
Talk to you next week!