Not Feeling It

Credit: Alex Harden on Flickr via Creative Commons

Credit: Alex Harden on Flickr via Creative Commons

Mellow people amaze me. I don’t trust them, but I am in awe of their ability to so easily remain level regardless of the stimuli surrounding them. I’ve known a lot of very laid back folks and I often wish I could be more like them.

No one will ever describe me as mellow. Melancholy maybe. But only for a spell. A boyfriend once scolded me for how extreme I can be, accusing me of being too all-or-nothing about absolutely everything. He was probably right. I laugh loudly, cry a lot, am explosive when I’m angry, get hurt easily, am giddy when excited. I don’t feel things a little bit.

This is probably one of the reasons I love digging into seasons like Lent and Advent. They give us an excuse to wrap all sorts of things with deeper meaning. We create liturgies, write music, orchestrate special worship services, take on new practices and strive to be mindful, intentional about some aspect of spirituality. I feel alive when I can justifiably engage those intense parts of myself for a time and with a purpose.

Which makes those seasons when I feel…nothing…seem like such a waste. This is one of those seasons. Today is the first day of Advent, the four-week stretch of time in the Christian calendar leading up to Christmas. The word “advent” just means the arrival of someone or something important. In this case we are looking to the arrival of Jesus, that moment when God wrapped Himself up in human flesh and spent time among His creation. It changed everything. Despite all the too-familiar passages, pagan holiday mash-ups, and tired carols we have the chance to remember the longing of a creation to be made right with its Creator. It’s a time to be honest about the fact that things aren’t right in the world, aren’t right in us, and we can’t fix it. Not alone. To admit we yearn, for things we can name and for other things we can’t really identify, like an itch below the skin’s surface. We long to be whole. To be known. To be received.

All this longing culminates in the celebration of that moment when a hundred impossibilities converged in manifestation and a baby was born. This is indeed Good News.

Yet…I feel mostly numb. This has been a year of loss in many ways, and there’s been a lot to mourn. A stretch of introspective time in the cold, dark weeks ahead just kind of scares me. I don’t want to face the longing, because that longing was made so damned tangible this year. Facing the incarnation feels too…heavy. So I shut it down and trudge forward.

The numbness won’t last. Today I cried in Church as we sang about the coming of Immanuel. I cried when we talked about our upcoming longest night service. I cried as I served communion to God’s people. Each time I blinked back the tears, took a breathe, and focused on the next thing. In this season of symbolism though, drenched with meaning, each next thing will be just as significant as the last. Somewhere in it all, when I am least expecting it and am just moving through the motions, He will find me. He will coax the tears I hold back and will breath fresh life into me. Because He came to make all things new, and that includes me. I practice spirituality even when I’m not feeling it because those practices hold open the doors He’s always been faithful to come to me through.

So if you aren’t feeling it this year, go through the motions. Sing the tired songs. Reread the stories. Lean in, and you may just hear the answer to your longing whispered between the lines.

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5 Comments

  1. Eric M. said,

    December 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

    It’s funny- I appreciate seasons like advent and lent partially because I’m mellow. It’s a good chance to get swept up in the excitement and emotion and intentional actions of those around you.

    • MandyK said,

      December 2, 2013 at 11:51 am

      So you feel like you are able to engage more during those seasons?

      • Eric M. said,

        December 2, 2013 at 12:02 pm

        Kind of. I force myself to engage most of the time anyway, but it seems easier when everyone is doing it and I can come alongside them and celebrate/struggle/mourn with them.
        Even though this isn’t a dark season for me, I appreciate Longest Night for exactly that reason and I’m very sad I will miss it this year.

      • MandyK said,

        December 2, 2013 at 12:05 pm

        I had no idea you are such an empath 🙂

      • Eric M. said,

        December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I’m not.


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