There are different kinds of waiting. Our Lady of Guadalupe is an image of the kind of waiting we do in Advent. It is joyful anticipation. The child we await is like the kingdom of God – already, and not yet.
Still, waiting for something joyous can be painful. Imagine (or remember) the loneliness and anxiety of years spent single, waiting for someone with whom to share your life. Think of the struggle of infertility, waiting for God to turn a couple into a family, arms aching to hold your little one. Or, as new parent waiting simply to sleep again, pushing past exhaustion to find one more ounce of patience.
In my experience, what looks to me like “waiting,” usually turns out to be a time of preparation. Each season of life has its joys and its sacrifices. The season of singleness, of freedom, of self-discovery, is a season where one has so much to give to the world. Getting married isn’t a solution to the problems of singlehood. It’s simply a change of seasons.
Unlike seasons, stages of life progressively ask more of us, while offering the deeper potential for joy. The struggles of community life, marriage, and parenthood are opportunities for self-denial and self-gift – ultimately, for true love. Giving oneself away in love is the pearl of great price. God loves to hide extraordinary grace in the most ordinary of places.
When the waiting gets painful, we can remember that God doesn’t waste. He’s not wasting our time, or the gifts he has made us to be. Our waiting is not passive, but active. As we gaze at what is ahead, let us not lose sight of what is before us now. Our Lady of Guadalupe teaches us that to say “yes” is not simply to accept the ultimate mission, but to undergo the preparation for it. Let us say “yes” to the here and now. Let us say “yes” to love.
In my life right now, are there invitations to love that I might be missing?
How have I grown through the painful experiences of my past?
How might the struggles of the present moment be preparing me for something greater?
This post was originally written for the Christus Ministries Advent Blog and published on Dec. 12, 2017.