Let’s reflect and expect this Advent
It’s that time of year again – a time of TV adverts portraying happy families, couples and children gathered around tables of food or brightly lit Christmas trees surrounded by gifts; a time of parties and gatherings and people making plans. It’s a time of year that can be tough if we’re single, triggering and isolating – a season that sometimes accentuates our aloneness and reminds us of the things we don’t yet have. Unless, that is, we can hold onto hope. Unless we can expect for a brighter future. This is the message of Advent – a time of preparation, preparing for a celebration, preparing for Christ’s arrival, for the light to come and break through the darkness.
So how can we use this Advent to prepare ourselves for the good things that are to come?
First, I believe, we must let go – let go of control, let go of our timeline, let go of our fixed ideas about our lives, the kind of partner we want to meet and when we want that encounter to happen.
Letting go isn’t easy, especially if we struggle with issues of control, as I do. But there is no faith without letting go. There is no space for God’s miracles unless we let go of our rigid plans and limited thinking. Things cannot unfold as they are meant to unfold if we are holding on tightly.
In order to let go, some of us may need to dig deep and find a new level of trust so that we can relax and let God take the driver’s seat.
Try that with me now. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and imagine sinking into God’s arms, leaning into something much greater and more powerful than you.
Imagine that you are held and supported, wrapped in a giant duvet cover with an enormous safety net beneath your feet. Imagine that you are safe.
It’s a relief, isn’t it? It’s exhausting trying to control every outcome. It’s futile too. We are not in charge – someone much wiser has the reins of our lives. So why not use this Advent to deepen your trust? Every week, as we move towards Christmas, check in with yourself and assess your level of belief and trust. How can you go deeper, let go a little bit more?
In order to let go, some of us may need to forgive ourselves – for the mistakes we deem we have made in our lives, for our imperfections, for our past choices. Unless we forgive ourselves, we will struggle to find a sense of acceptance and peace. And acceptance and peace are essential ingredients on our journey to love and a fulfilling life.
Imagine now, just for a second, that you have forgiven yourself, that you fully accept yourself and your past, that you are at peace with yourself. How does that feel? Do you feel lighter, do you feel freer and do you feel like there’s more space in your life for a new approach, for new things?
As we move through the weeks of Advent, you may also want to check in with yourself and measure how peaceful and accepting you feel. If you notice that you feel anxious or panicked about your life and especially about the absence of a partner, try your best to soothe and reassure yourself.
I accept. I surrender. I hand my life over. Remember the giant duvet and the safety net.
Advent is also a time of celebration and even if our heart’s desires remain unfulfilled, there is always something to celebrate. It can be as simple as a bright blue sky or a frosty morning or a phone call from a friend. Recently, I’ve been reminded of the importance of gratitude and, when I remember, I write a gratitude list, noticing as I write that I already feel better.
Where can you find your joy this Advent? Perhaps commit to doing something every week that brings you joy, that puts a smile on your face, or that brings joy to others.
Alongside joy, look for examples of love all around you as we approach Christmas. You are lovable, loving and loved. Do you believe that? Can you see that and celebrate that? We may not have the love that we long for but if we look, we’ll see so many avenues to receive love and opportunities to show love. And we can start with ourselves.
Do we treat ourselves with love and kindness, in the way we manage our schedules or prepare our meals or look after our bodies? Remember: the simple things, the tiny steps, make all the difference.
Finally, as we move through Advent and look forward to Christmas and 2022, get ready. Prepare. Clear space. You may want to physically clear space in your closet or your home to symbolise you are ready for something new, or clear space in your diary to do more of the things you love.
You may want to clear space in your head and heart and prepare your heart for new love – you can do this by working through your past relationships, understanding your patterns, committing to changing any unhealthy patterns and by letting go any past loves.
By doing the above, I hope that what for some is a tough time of year can transform into the most exciting time of year – a time when we can look forwards with hope and expectation to all the good things that are to come, to new beginnings, new life and new love.