What are you preparing for? That question was a huge gut check for me this week as I finally decided to sit down and carve out quiet time to sit and pray. I LOVE Christmas. I love the music. I love the lights. I love the traditions. But most of all, I love the anticipation of the arrival of baby Jesus. This year, like most years, between work, some traveling, and my husbands busy basketball schedule, I had let the most important part of the season, the reason for the season, get put on the back burner. We’ve been watching the Christmas movies, listening to the music on the radio, baking cookies. While I was doing everything right by secular standards, my heart was restless – my priorities had been off. I needed to shift my focus.
Last Sunday, our family was asked to read a prayer and light the second Advent candle before Mass began. My first thought was “Oh, no!” As a scene of everything that could go wrong flashed through my mind: the younger two melting down sobbing or screaming uncontrollably, the oldest refusing to walk up with us, someone’s hair catching fire from the candle…this could be bad!
Too late. The bells started ringing, our sign to walk up and say the prayer and light the second candle on the Advent wreath. I really don’t know what the prayer was as my mind was a little preoccupied making sure all hell didn’t break loose, but after we made it through the prayer with no meltdowns, no run aways, and no one’s hair catching fire, it hit me.
We were starting the second week of advent, and what had I done to prepare?
Nothing. I had done nothing.
Our advent wreath hadn’t been placed on the kitchen table, our nativity set was still in the box, and worst of all, our hearts weren’t getting prepared to receive God’s most precious gift. I could make excuse after excuse as to why things were the way they were, and chances are people would probably respond with:
“Life is just busy right now, it’s okay.”
“You’ve got a lot going on and your hands are full.”
And while those are true, they are also lies from guess who? Some one who wants nothing more than me to neglect the true reason for the season. The king of lies. The devil himself. Isn’t he a tricky little booger? His lies are so believable, and his tricks easy to fall for. So while those lies may have a glimmer of truth, they are no reason to let Advent slip away and rob from me and my family the true Joy of the season.
I had to make a conscious decision to get my priorities straight so I could let Advent be Advent, so Christmas could be Christmas.
I picked up a few devotional books from a back table that I could begin reading and also decided to subscribe to Best Advent Ever through dynamiccatholic.com. My Advent journey made a complete 180.
The first night I listened to the first eight videos on Dynamic Catholic (remember, I was a little behind…). They were all so good, I couldn’t help but continue to watch as they each seemed to hit home on a different topic and in a certain way.
The one that made a lasting impression was Day 8 — Preparing the Way. It helped me take a step back and really think about who and what I am preparing for. It’s not to say the movies, the decorating, the baking need to come to a screeching halt. But, rather, using those times of preparation to be a reminder that we really doing is preparing for Jesus to enter our lives. When we are looking at Christmas lights – saying a prayer that God will help shine our light and bring others to Jesus. When we *finally* got out our nativity sets – saying a prayer of thanksgiving for the real gift this season, the gift that changed the course of human history – the birth of our King.
If your Advent hasn’t quite been what you have been longing for, don’t give up hope. There is still plenty of time to slow down and be present. Don’t let the devil convince you otherwise. Allow your Advent to be Advent, so your Christmas and be Christmas.