How to let God's tenderness see us through
Last week, I talked about Advent being a time to join our repentance and cries for Divine Justice with the Brotherhood of the Broken–all our brothers and sisters throughout space and time.
This week, the Mass readings turned an eye towards what happens after that moment of repentance. What happens in that space between us realizing we’ve fallen short of God’s perfect will, and the time when we are finally made anew by His grace?
The answer, like all things with God, shocks. Comfort, we are told to expect. Comfort and tender, gentle words are promised in Isaiah. Peace, kindness, and truth are offered in the following Psalm, while the Epistle reading for this week speaks about God’s boundless patience.
Looked at in context, it is an amazing thing from an amazing God. Here we are, people who are so fallen and sinful that even our good deeds spread pollution, crying out to God for forgiveness and justice. And instead of responding with the iron fist of chastisement we deserve, we are given words of comfort. Of tenderness. We are held to God’s heart like lost lambs, and told, “Hush. You’ve come home to me. I will make you well.”
Then comes the waiting. The waiting that fills the space between our crying out for forgiveness and justice and the time those very things are made manifest in their fullness by the return of Christ. That waiting between us realizing we’re sinners and the time when God’s grace has sanctified us into new creations.
Waiting is the worst.
We have decided to put our house on the market. After years and years of talking about someday moving to a place with more land, we’ve decided to take the plunge and make “someday” a fixed point in the foreseeable future, rather than simply the subject of late night pillow talk. All that stands between us and our future home is the staging and selling of our current one.
If you’ve never had the singular thrill of selling a house when said house is populated with small children, then allow me to tell you that it is decidedly unpleasant. Before we can even put the house on the market, everything has to be repainted; all the handprints covered over with a coat of nondescript, soulless taupe. Each broken doorknob, scuffed up stairwell, and cluttered bookcase has to be mended, cleaned, and thinned out. It is long, dreary work, made soul-crushing by the fact that for every one grubby surface you clean and paint, two others spring up in their wake.
I have not been particularly patient or gentle during this process. Not with myself, and not with my family. This transitional time, the space between deciding to make a change and having that change fully manifest, is not a place I dwell in comfortably. I get irritable. I get volatile. I sail off into ridiculous proclamations forever prohibiting any hand from ever touching a wall surface ever again.
The thing is, I’ve been through this before. This will be the fourth move my husband and I have undertaken since getting married–the third time since having children. You would think I’d be able to take a deep breath and just trust that God will see us through the messy process. But I never do.
This time. however, I’m going to try my hardest to remember this week’s Advent meessage: to remember the gentleness and tenderness that God lavishes on us during our spiritual transitional periods, and try to apply that concept to all the waiting spaces in my life.
Where is the waiting space in your life? Is it a promotion that hasn’t appeared yet? A spouse you’re still waiting to meet? A pregnancy that seems cruel in its refusal to come about? Find that transitional area in your life, and during this Advent, ask Christ to come into that raw, unsettled space, filling it with His love and abundance.
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.