As many of you are no doubt aware, the season of Advent began on Sunday. According to dictionary.com, Advent is defined as "the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world."
For me, Advent signifies two things: expectation and preparation. It is always an exciting time, but this year I'm especially excited about it because my two-year-old can (sort of) understand that something is afoot in the Forgey household. There is something different - special - about this time of year. It's not just the presents or the decorations; it's also the attitude and focus. We spend a lot of time talking about the "reason for the season" at my house and focusing on ways to teach the true nature of gift-giving. We give because we have received.
This year I've decided to give God a gift directly. After an incredibly challenging fall, during which my fleshy nature seemed to win more often than not, I've been struck by how much I like to bitch. Excuse the word, but there's really no other way to say it. "Grumble" and "complain" don't quite do what I do justice. I love to tell everyone how I feel about everything, and, more often than not, that equals bitching about stuff. During the last few months, when I had legitimate reasons to complain, I noticed how not fruitful complaining is. I only felt worse after spewing my negativity all over the place, even when I was justified in my opinion. And I certainly didn't spread love or joy but rather anger, frustration, and anxiety. Thanks to the Holy Spirit (for I know this idea came from Him), I decided a few weeks ago that it's time to change this behavior. So, I'm fasting.
During Advent, I'm giving God my complaints. Quite literally. I'm trusting that He knows them before I speak them, that He's defending me when I need it, that He's at work for justice in the world everywhere injustice exists. I don't need to single-handedly change the world by addressing every situation I confront. I can leave them to Him. I can simply be...silent.
My fast from complaining will involve choosing not to speak (something that is incredibly difficult for me). But it will also involve choosing to speak. "But as I stood there in silence--not even speaking of good things--the turmoil within me grew worse" (Psalm 39:2). I will turn from anger, dissatisfaction, fear even, and turn toward joy, hope, goodness. I will choose to spread love and not anger.
I'm really excited about this. Feel free to ask me how it's going or to tell me if you hear me complaining. This will be a learning process, so I'm open to feedback.
In the meantime, may you have a blessed Advent season, and may you see Him coming into your life in many ways this Christmas.
[The Advent daily readings in the Episcopal church, of which I'm a member, are: Psalms 5 & 6 (in the morning); Psalms 10 & 11 (in the evening); Isaiah 1:21-31; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Luke 20:9-18.]