This Advent, I want to work on being less fragmented, more present. I can't be fully present to my wife, to our children, or to GOD in prayer if my life is disorganized. Disorganized for me looks like 100's of unfinished projects, half-baked ideas, a garage full of things I've purchased when the inspiration struck without a plan to see it through. All this leads to a fragmented life, and is a REAL obstacle to deep work and being fully present in the moment.
Everything was settled. I spent time Sunday writing out my advent plan in my journal. I had some areas in my life I knew needed work, and I was ready (or so I thought). I even wrote down as a reminder, "This isn't about perfect, it's about trying really hard". I got up early Monday morning, went through my new morning routine, and I was feeling great. Made breakfast for the family, dropped the boys off at school, and got to work. By the end of the day, I was lost in old habits. I left work unfinished which meant coming to the dinner table with an all-consuming distraction. I sat down with my journal that night and went through my day, determined to do better on Tuesday. That did not happen.
Same as Monday. Great start to the day implementing a new morning routine, but by the time the workday was over, I was stressed to the max. I was waiting for Karate practice to wrap up, trying desperately to "get one more thing done" and the internet stopped working. The weight was more than I could handle. I wanted to scream! I literally couldn't keep working if I wanted to.
So I called my good friend, we'll call him Sam. It was dinner time so I knew I needed to be brief. He answered the phone with a friendly greeting, and I told him I needed his prayers. I told him I felt broken. I wanted to be anyone else, I wanted to be anyWHERE else so that I didn't have to feel this way. He didn't try to fix it or tell me I shouldn't feel that way, he just listened. Then, he gave me the most encouraging words.
"It's ok to be broken tonight. A quick fix would be a sham anyways. Spend some time with your wife, go to bed early, and in the morning, let the Father's words [sacred scripture] come to you slowly. You're a good friend, Jonathan. I'm glad I have you in my corner. ~ Sam"
I did exactly that. I spent time with God in prayer through scripture this morning, and this is what I learned.
Admit you are broken. God already knows this, but YOU need to know it. Get comfortable with that reality, and learn how to let God be BIG instead of trying to be big yourself.
When we are in these dark places, it is an invitation from God to enter into a deeper relationship with Him. He knows our weaknesses. He created us. He put us in a particular place, with specific people, at a particular time for a reason. We can either cooperate with His grace so that His will might be accomplished through us....or we opt out. And so many times, that's what we do. Instead of turning to God, we turn to alcohol, food, social media, work, shopping, news...ANYTHING to distract us from that feeling of brokenness. All we're doing is frustrating the healing process. Now healing doesn't look like our weaknesses going away, it looks like what St. Paul writes in 2 Cor 12:9,
"'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
I'm going to fail a thousand more times before Christmas, but if I turn to God every time, I'm confident He'll make a better man out of me.
We are praying for all of you this Advent. If you know someone who'd benefit from hearing about my Advent journey, please share it with them.