This week is the first week of Advent in the liturgical calendar. It's a season of expectant waiting as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity and a time of remembering the expectant waiting of Israel for the first coming of the Messiah and a reminder of the continued waiting for the Second Coming.
I didn't really discover Advent until I was an adult because it wasn't something we observed growing up, but I've found it to be very useful as a training ground for the expectant waiting that so much of real life requires.
Patience is definitely not one of my strengths, so I'm not a fan of waiting. I want to be able to get things done, see progress, make things happen.
Waiting for something out of my control is something I don't do well. It feels like a waste of time and sends my anxiety levels through the roof.
And yet, expectant waiting is teaching me something new about what waiting can be. Expectant waiting is waiting in hope and expectation. It's waiting for what's out of my control while simultaneously doing what I can to make the conditions ripe for what I am waiting for to thrive.
It's a balance that running a business is also teaching me. I cannot control whether anyone buys the things I make or purchases the services I offer. I must wait every day to see what people will choose.
And yet, at the very same time, I must keep busy making new things for people to have the option of choosing, improving my offerings and business processes, answering questions and interacting with potential customer, and spreading the word to more people about what I have available.
Waiting for sales is definitely not a passive activity by any means! It is waiting in a very active, hard-working hope in the same way that Advent is waiting in an active hope of working toward a better world even as we await its arrival.
Waiting for healing
This expectant (and hard-working) waiting is the same waiting that is needed when it comes to healing in our lives.
We can't make healing happen on our timetable (unfortunately!!). It arrives by grace when the time is right.
And yet, at the very same time, we have an important role to play as we wait to do the hard work necessary to create the best conditions for that healing to manifest and to thrive once it has appeared.
This means taking the journey through the pain, even when we can't yet see when we will reach the other side. It means doing the work to "tend the garden" as we wait for a harvest that is not yet apparent.
Every year now as the Advent season rolls around, I find myself settling ever deeper into this space of expectant waiting, of learning more richly how to both work toward healing and, at the same time, wait patiently for what is out of control.
I find myself inching out of the frantic hustle and bustle of trying to force things to happen and into a hopeful space of trusting that doing work that is mine to do will eventually lead to the healing I am waiting for.
This approach has made the Christmas season less stressful for me and, even more importantly, is slowly transforming my ability to act with expectant waiting in so many other areas of life. I wish you a similar deepening into the rich and fertile soil of expectant waiting this Advent season.
What does expectant waiting mean to you?
What areas of your life are out of your control to make what you seek happen (requiring you to wait) but would benefit from you also actively (expectantly) working toward them while you wait?
Is this kind of expectant something you do well?
If so, are there parts of your life that might benefit from expanding and applying this skill to those areas also?
If not, what is one step you can take toward applying this to at least one area of your life today?
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