Christmas Presence

It’s finals week and I can barely remember what day it is. What time it is. I have 0 groceries and pretty sure I’ve spent more time at the library than I have at home. It’s been a blur of carrying my backpack to one library to another to a coffee shop, just to dump it on the floor and sleep for a bit before the next round. People ask me what I did last Friday and I stare at them blankly because, what is Friday? When was that? Who is that? Huh?

I had to say no to 5 Christmas parties this past weekend. I’ve had to say no to SO many things, so many people. I’m so ready to not have to respond with, “Can’t, I have to study” and “Ah, I’ll be at the library” or “Wish I could, but I have school!”. I’m so ready to sit with people and not be thinking about all the precious minutes of studying I’m missing out on. So ready to not pack up 4 different bags in the morning, with 3 different meals, and 2 additional layers. I’m ready for this semester to be done.

I’m in a new relationship, which is all sorts of wonderful, but also a bit all-encompassing. My already limited free time feels like it’s now in the negative category. Combine that with a crazy end of a semester and this little known time of year called The Holidays – I’ve had about 73 things to do in what feels like 30 seconds to do them and it’s been a bit overwhelming.

Life has just felt FULL. Too full. Which, after a year of hard, I’ll take full – but it’s so full I’ve had to say no to things, and I really hate saying no. I really hate being the MIA friend. I really hate being the person who shows up, sometimes. I’m used to being the one who remembers to text you on your first day of the new job, who checks in about something you told me about a month ago, who knows that one thing is happening a week from today. I usually remember small details and small dates and small celebrations.

And lately it’s taken all my energy to remember to put gas in my car.

I just want to be present. I want to go to the Christmas parties and I want to sit on the couch with friends and I want to feel like my brain is actually working. I want to text friends back, “Sure! How about Tuesday?” instead of “Oh man, life is so crazy, maybe let’s circle back in January??” I want to feel like I’m in the moment, instead of constantly, constantly catching up to the moment. Every conversation this month has felt like I arrived to it, mentally, 7 minutes late and out of breath. “Wait, who are we talking about? What happened? What day is it?

Christmas is so soon and let’s forget about all the presents I still need to buy – I just want some presence. I want to feel like I’m in the moment, this moment. I want to take a deep breath and let my mind settle a bit and just be. But I’m finding I’m trying to hold on to who I used to be and who I am now, in this season – and I can’t have both. I can’t be both. I can’t be Krysti in Seminary and also Krysti Not in Seminary. I can’t be Single Krysti and Krysti in a Relationship. I can’t be 2017 Krysti and also 2018 Krysti. I can’t do all the things, be all the people.

Advent is the season of expectation, of waiting. But this year, I’m learning that includes desire, as well. A deep longing, a wanting. For the next season, sure, but for presence. For rest. For sanity. I want to sleep for 17 hours. I want to sit on my couch. I want to take my time cooking a meal – not to pack up to go for the week, but just to enjoy in the moment. I want to see my friends and sit and have long, time-wasting conversations that fly by. I want all these things.

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I’m so ready for this season to be over, and yet I can’t help but feel something deeply spiritual in this longing. In this season of advent I am oh-so-ready for the next season. I am ready for things to come, promises to be fulfilled, dreams that are only hopes at this point I am ready to see become reality. I am eagerly expectant and deeply longing; I am so very in the midst of the hoping.

We celebrate God showing up in a way humanity could have never fathomed. We celebrate the fact that longing and desire for a powerful king, a political messiah were met – in a baby born into the most common of families, in the most unlikely of places. God shows up. It just isn’t always how we expect, it isn’t always exactly what we were thinking. God’s heart for the world and for humanity were displayed – in ways no one saw coming.

I am studying the New Testament (for finals!) and read through the gospels and I see time and time again how no one expected Jesus. Not like that. Not like how God chose to answer the prayers of His people. Even after Jesus died, even after He rose from the dead – so much of the New Testament is letters explaining to people, again, Jesus is the Christ. He really was holy. He really was God’s delivered promise. You can trust this. You can trust Him.

And so I sit in the library and I try to pull myself off Instagram and I try to summon the energy to study a little bit longer. A little bit more. The new season, the next season, feels so close and yet still so far – it’s painful. But it feels holy. The waiting feels holy. The expectation, as frustrating and maddening and forever it feels – is holy, too.

I know I’ll finish finals and life won’t be as magical as I’m expecting. I know I won’t get to sleep for the next 17 hours and I know Christmas is bringing its own stress, its own crazy. I know that we can overhype things, when we’re waiting for them to begin. But I also know that God shows up, God meets us in the middle – in ways we can’t imagine. It’s not that He doesn’t answer prayers – it’s that He answers them in ways we could have never expected. Ways that, years from now, we still might question and still might doubt. Ways that we need people to remind us over and over again – you can trust this. You can trust Him.

In this season of advent, I want free time and space and s l o w. And yet it feels like I’m getting the exact opposite. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe the presence I’m deeply desiring is hidden in one of these 73 to-do items. Maybe answers I’m searching for have already shown up – I just haven’t recognized them yet. Maybe all of this longing has already been fulfilled, in places I’m stubbornly expecting political royalty when God sent me a child.

Maybe it’s a babe in a manger and maybe it’s finals week. Maybe it’s health or reconciliation, maybe it’s a big “yes” or a hard “no”. Maybe your season of advent is agonizingly long or maybe it’ll be over in a blink. It won’t always be the answer you’re hoping for, but it will always be Him. I’m sure of that.