My Unfinished List * Advent Devotional

cardinal-waitingI only know the talented Megan Busch through the blogosphere, but after reading her writings one thing became immanently clear to me. WE NEEDED TO BE FRIENDS. Spend some time with her Advent devotional today, and I think you’ll feel the same.

I used to keep an unwritten checklist in my heart. Maybe you had one, too.

By age 23, I’d have a degree, a job, and a husband.

It was the expectation of “real life” – whatever that is. Couldn’t be too hard, right? Then “real life” became… well, real life. My parents divorced within my first year of college. I switched to a “more challenging” major (communication theory…) despite my undefined career path. No one fell in love with me, nor I with that elusive “one.”

After graduation (degree – check!), I found myself jobless, depressed, and alone. My expectations lay unfulfilled.

We’ve all heard it: “time + effort = success.” We pretend life’s a + b = c, or even C3H8 + 5O2 –> 4H2O + 3CO2. We expect the guaranteed conditional – if this, then that. We expect the this work of our lives to yield our that.

My twenties held career shifts, church changes, family tumult and triumph. I chased contentment while waiting for the “some day” of the hopefully-not-so-distant future. I expected good things while diligently pursuing the work at hand: daycare teacher, volunteer youth leader, studio photographer, college instructor, high school teacher (job – check!), and heart-and-soul friend. I invested my time, talents, and treasures.

I hoped such avenues would lead to the realization of my desires, my white picket fence expectations. But they didn’t. Instead, I watched Round 1 of You’re Invited to Our Wedding. Delay of expectations, dreams deferred.

Now, in my thirties I’m witnessing Round 2 of You’re Invited to Our Wedding and a explosion of Baby Shower Extravaganza. Even while collecting bridesmaid dresses and photographing more weddings and children than I can count, I’m learning to walk beside others – joys and trials of relationships and parenting – with silent hope that my own will be soon-coming.

I wrestle with waiting. I’ve passed through valleys where despair turned hope bitter. The vacillation between resting in Him and being unsatisfied with my status quo is a rhythm. I gather stories of frustration, learning, and hilarity (really – ask about my online dating experiences…). There are days of anger, joy, sorrow, release, resignation, and peace.  

My desire for spouse and family hasn’t dissipated, though my efforts have borne no fruit. I’m still waiting. Perhaps you, too, have unrealized dreams. Perhaps you, too, are waiting.

But there’s hope. Expectant hope. The kind the Israelites held, anticipating their Messiah: the hope of a brighter tomorrow when harvests and conditional thens can be counted on.

Isaiah 65:21-22 (NRSV)

They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.

We can find hope in waiting. Come, thou long-expected Christ. O come, Emmanuel, God with us. We hope in a day when labors are bring generous reward, toils reap a befitting harvest, and unfulfilled dreams are satisfied.  

We gather truths: remembering God is faithful and just and with us.  

We look: staying alert to Emmanuel’s presence in our daily lives.  

We tarry: lingering with God in conversation, in presence, in prayer.  

We wait for: allowing circumstance to bring us into communion with the Holy Spirit.  

We wait upon: serving others, allowing the Christ in us to recognize the Christ in them.

My checklist?  It’s a decade stale.  But my hope?  It’s in Christ, who is here in my waiting.

What’s on your checklist?

Where is your hope?

megan-busch-picMegan Busch is the Communications Director and Trip Coordinator for the Ugandan Water Project, a non-profit organization providing clean water resources to Ugandan communities.  With a bent toward all things word-related, she enjoys deep conversations over coffee, thought-provoking literature, discussions about the importance of punctuation and grammar, and fostering intentional community.  You can find her occasional musings on her blog, We Are All Falling.


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