Thursday, December 1, 2011

Welcome to Advent!

It recently dawned on me that there are times I really wish things could be the way they were, back in the day when life was carefree and easy, when I didn't have responsibilities and worries and baggage. I guess that would put me around seven years old or so.

If I could go back there now, knowing what I do today, I would do things so much differently.

I'd thank my parents, every single day, for their hard work.

I'd help around the house more, without being reminded.

I'd listen to their advice and take it as solid gold.

I'd practice the things they encouraged me to (writing and the violin, especially) and really develop my talents early.

I'd avoid growing up as much as I could and not beg my parents to let me do things that were beyond my years.

I realize this is a complete pipe dream. But, when I look backward, over the course of my life, I realize that so many of my missteps were because I wanted to do things my way and in my time.

Like so many children, especially tweens and teenagers, I was impatient and selfish and reckless and greedy and a host of other things that are less than complimentary. And none of those things started because my parents didn't TRY to tell me differently.

I guess this is the story of growing up because if I polled a thousand people on the streets, I think 999 of them would agree with me.

We all carve our own path and walk to the beat of our own drummer. If we are wise we listen to those around us who have walked the path ahead of us. If we aren't, and I'm in this category, we careen seriously off course and make mistakes that forever change us; mistakes that alter not only the course of our life, but the course of others lives, up to and including future generations.

And, for me, it all started with being extraordinarily strong-willed, which can be both a blessing and a curse. When channeled for good, it can be really good. But when used to prove a point or dive into things that are risky or ignore others opinions in favor of much less seasoned advice, it can be the world's biggest curse.

And, I guess I am lamenting the curse that being strong-willed has sometimes been in my life. Being strong-willed has meant that I often beat a path that was solidly outside the lines of what I had been taught was right. It has lead me to wish that things I've seen or heard or spoken could be erased from my life.

And now that I'm seeing my children repeat this same song and verse, it just pains me. I so desperately want to tell them to listen and learn and follow me and pray and hear what God says about their decisions. I don't want them to make the same mistakes. And, likely, they won't because I've harped on my big mistakes so much. BUT, they will make their own, unique mistakes that I aren't even on my radar screen and that will take me by surprise and take my breath away.

And that is just the way the cookie crumbles.*

But, don't think it is all bleak and ugly in my little corner of the world. Contrary to what this post may sound like, I'm not depressed about life and the lessons it has taught me. I'm simply airing out some deep places my heart and mind have traveled to lately in anticipation of things to come.

So, life, with all its unlearned lessons and complications and issues, has led me to this NEW day, the beginning of Advent. The time of year we look forward, not backward, to welcome the Christ child.

And the blessing of this season is I get to learn about another strong-willed child who learned a lesson about truly trusting her life to God's will. Mary's was not an easy path, but she accepted it and was blessed through the pain.

Unlike Mary, I had to get to the end of myself before I could trust Christ. Yet, when I was so broken that I was nothing but a very shallow, empty hull, I turned myself around, looked up, and asked Christ if He would help.

It took a strong-will to do that, to surrender my life at a point when I really just wanted to die.

So, I guess, if I could go back in time, my main goal would be to be a bigger blessing to my parents. I'd take their advice and thank them more often and learn more and enjoy just being a kid again. But, I wouldn't stay there.

I'd come back to this very day, and this very hour, and move forward to help my children. I'd take every opportunity to teach them, hoping some of my words would fall on fertile ground. I'd remember that making mistakes is part of the process and that it leads to restoration, if we put our strong-wills aside.

Isn't that what Advent is all about? Learning lessons as we prepare for Christ?

And, shouldn't that be our every day goal, to learn and prepare?

In fact, isn't that the entire point of LIFE?

I sure hope you'll journey with me through this season of Advent, a time where all things are made new and a little baby will come, with love and salvation and restoration reigning supreme.

Walk a path with me, where moving forward, instead of looking back, will be the main theme and the drum beat not just of a season, but of LIFE.

*Yes, Mom. I heard that.

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