I was given The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp four years ago. I picked it up, started reading it and found my Advent season taking a new turn. This is my fourth year reading this book. I’ve marked it up – commented and underlined. Yet the words still move me in ways I need at that moment.
As many of you know, this fall has turned out to be a lot different than I planned. I’ve been on only two trips since June, something I’ve mourned and rejoiced over all at the same time. I’ve not worked much but rather, have had a lot of time to pour into projects put on hold for the past 18 months.
I’ve dove into a season of reflection; starting first with adding yoga into my life and making space for friends. I’ve been out for coffee dates and walks, impromptu visits and lots and lots of reading. I’ve been back to therapy and have begun the painful yet healing discovery of flaws that need attendance to.
One of the things I’ve become aware of these past several weeks has been how much I value myself because of what I can do vs. who I am. On my trips I talk constantly about Being vs. Doing. It’s easy to figure out that piece when all my concerns are about the present moment. However, take me back home where I’m in charge of 5 people’s schedules, budget tending, preparing for a daughter to leave for college and basic life – well, then my DOING cranks up and I start feeling worthy because of all I’m getting done.
Yesterday’s advent was from Genesis 3. Eve was in the garden and “she saw the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. ” So she ate it and passed it on to Adam. They hid until that night when God called “Where are you?”
“Where are you?”
“Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives.” Ann Voskamp
It hit me like a ton of bricks (and according to my notes, has for the past three years!) . You’d think I’d figure out this piece. I’m not my job, my travel, my roles. I’m not what I eat or what I do. I’m not the experiences I’ve had or the ones I lead. I’m not any of those things.
Those are things I’ve done, things I do.
“We only find out where we are when we find out where He is. We only find ourselves…when we find Him.”
I’m working hard to rearrange my internal messaging. Today I’m fasting for a colonoscopy tomorrow. It has been a rough few days. I hate the idea of any kind of diet and this once stinks. I’ve had to do without and instead find other things to fill my time. (This time of year I LOVE baking and cooking. While fasting, I’ve kept out of the kitchen as much as I can.) The space away from the normal has caused me to lean more into the things that give me comfort; that fill my “I’m enough” box.
What places deep within your soul do you long for the Lord to seek out during this season of Advent? That’s been a tough question to mull over these past two days. I put down the following words “Perhaps in the buried parts that need constant validation – external praise vs. just being.”
So today, as I write these words, I open the book of my heart and share with you that we are all searching and healing. Perhaps your deepest soul longings are for a family, for a spouse, for healing, for a job, for release from addiction. Or maybe like me, you know the hard work needs to continue to be done to free dark spaces in your soul that say “You are because you do.” Once that space is open, you can fill it with the FULLNESS of God’s abundance.
The birth of the child into the darkness of the world made possible not just a new way of understanding life but a new way of living it. Frederick Buechner