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3 Ways to Care for the Soul during Advent

Advent is a time  within the Christian tradition to celebrate hope and the coming of Christ. 

At times it can be hard to get into the season's festivities. I wrestle  with the tensions that conflicts with the joyous feelings that the holidays  can bring. It can be difficult to experience the positive vibes when there is so much negativity energy revolving within our lives. Advent signals the entrance of  hope, love, peace and joy within the world in order to help us focus on the living Christ given to us so that we can be restored and made whole.

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This can be hard to recognize because sometimes we can experience deep pain and suffering due to brokenness that exists both within ourselves and in the world. It can be difficult to see the light when there is so much darkness-- clouding our ability to sometimes see and believe. 

For some of us, the heaviness of what it means to be alive during this time in our history may be too much to handle. I struggle with the picture perfect holiday because it does not exist in my worldview. Contrary to the popular images within the media around the holiday season, my snow globe is filled with many complications-- from family dynamics, financial stress, grief, relationship problems and faith crises. And this can make experiencing this season tough.  

In order to counter the realities that may not yield itself to the "perfect holiday," which I am unsure even exists, I am choosing to use this period of reflection to do what it was designed for--waiting with expectation and hope. 

While waiting we remember the spirit of Mary who wrestled with her own questions regarding her condition as she carried the baby Jesus. We also sit with her and endure the period of incubation that is required in order to bring something new into our lives. Although it sounds good to think of our discomfort as a part of the birthing process, I recognize that this may not be as helpful for those who are tired and ready for this season to end.  

I recommend that we find the strength to permit ourselves the one task to just sit and be still. 

The soul longs for special attention even in the midst of so many distractions. When the noisiness within the world is overpowered with hatred, racism, intolerance, violence, fear, and pain, the soul can be pulled in so many directions that can make it hard to get into the presence of God. 

Here are a few suggestions on how to care for the soul during Advent: 

1. Unplug

Make the difficult decision to take some time to disconnect from being in constant demand (social media, email, text messages, etc.). Spend the time instead of sitting and connecting with God. 

2. Reflect

As the year comes to an end, it may be fruitful to choose a method that best suits your personality to contemplate your experiences this year. Leave no memory behind to reflect on the good, bad, and ugly. This will help your soul to recall the challenges you have overcome and the growth experienced. 

3. Give 

I want to challenge you to seek opportunities to be a gift of hope, peace, love or joy for someone else this season. Do this without the traditional gift giving that requires spending, but offer the gift of presence. So many people experience loneliness during this time of the year.  Sitting with those in need of care without doing or saying anything may bring peace. 

Other Resources on Advent:

If This Holiday is Hard, You're Not Alone - encouragement for experiencing the "toughness" of the holiday season by understanding that Jesus journeys with us through our loneliness. 

10 Simple Ways to Celebrate Advent - for more resources on how to celebrate advent for those who may not know where to start. 

How to Prepare for an Easy Advent: When the First Snow Falls Quiet on the Trees--& Your Family Tree Feels Like a Mess- a reflection on looking for the coming of Christ that is experienced within Advent despite the brokenness and complexities we may face.

Advent Activities- a link to a Pinterest board of activities that can cultivate the creativity side of your soul during Advent. 

How will you care for your soul during this season of Advent?

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