Fuller Colorado alum Amber Odvody muses on the deep sense of incompleteness and longing she feels during Advent—and why those feelings are necessary.
Mary and I don’t really have much in common. Her job description reads something like: pregnant unwed teenager called to deliver the Son of God into the world. And her story goes something like: hushed scandal that looks like adultery but ends up being the grand incarnational act of God coming to earth as a child. Despite the fact that our jobs and our stories are worlds apart, I feel oddly close to Mary this time of year. I have found one similarity to the mother of God—that intangible, insatiable feeling of longing. Certainly as she added up the events of her life before Jesus was born, Mary waited in hopeful expectation that God would show up, that angels would minister in her time of need, that she would not be left alone and afraid. This sense of longing for fulfillment matches the feelings that swell within me during Advent.
Advent, by definition, is a season of expectation. The weeks leading up to Christmas seem to accumulate some momentum that echoes of “not yet” and “watch and wait” and “be still.” The times in my life that have been dizzying and hopeless and puzzling and broken always bring me back to Advent as it should be experienced, with a deep sense of incompleteness. And I’ve realized that in order to get to Christmas, I need Advent. True, authentic Advent. Not frenzied consumerism with a few choruses of We Wish You a Merry Christmas, but a deep, guttural acknowledgement that the world isn’t the way it should be and we desperately need a Savior. I need the darkness and the exile and the loneliness because it leads me to the fullness of Christmas.
So what if Advent became a season where you and I entrusted God with the longings of our lives—those “what ifs” and “but whys” and “how comes?” These weeks are pregnant with potential; something new is about to be birthed. And so I wait.