Advent 4 (Sunday) :: He Comes to Us Right Where We Are
A number of years back, when I was fresh out of college and beginning my career path as an editor, I stepped into a tumultuous time that ended up changing my life.
That first year, I took two simultaneous positions: one as a full-time staff editor for an international nonprofit organization and one as the part-time writing director of a college honors program. I was working with words and learning my craft, all while straddling the professional and academic worlds, both of which I loved. I couldn't believe my great, good fortune.
Then came the anxiety.
I'd always been a bit of an overachiever, but I'd never experienced anxiety as a thing before in my life. Yet here it was in all its awful, consuming reality. I felt it on Sunday nights, in anticipation of the next morning's trek back to the office. I felt it every weekday morning as I tried to get myself there. I felt it every night as I replayed all the conversations that had happened in the day. I beat myself up incessantly. I couldn't imagine myself worthy of what had been given to me in these two roles.
This anxiety began to rule my life, and I felt like a scared, caged animal.
At the time, I was part of a weekly small group that met in someone's home. We'd share a potluck dinner, then gather in the living room — some on couches, some on the floor, some on chairs, and some on the stairs that spilled into the living room. We were all shapes and sizes — singles, couples, parents, grandparents — and we focused on what we called "doing life together."
That blessed group of folks watched me walk through the onset of this anxiety and how it came to cripple me. I would ask for prayer each week, sharing in a trembling voice how overwhelmed with fear I felt, how scared I was of doing my two jobs — even as no one in either workplace knew of my deep, deep struggle or would ever have guessed it.
I remember one particular night when we shared an evening of extended worship as a group. One guy brought his guitar, and another gal helped him sing. The leader dimmed the lights to invoke an intimate setting for our souls to be present with God.
I was seated on my knees on the floor, and at one point, overcome by the ongoing cry of my anxious heart, I leaned forward, pushing my forehead into the scratchy weave of the orange-brown carpet, my heart a torn shambles of tattered pieces.
That's when I experienced him coming to me.
He was there, down on the floor with me, his forehead pushed against the carpet, too. I turned my head to look at him, and he turned to look at me. We stared at each other, there on our knees with our heads against the floor. His eyes took in the fullness of my feelings, the greatness of my pain.
He was with me.
This, to me, was the reality of Philippians 2 come to life. It is a passage that speaks of Jesus being the very form of God but taking the form of us and coming to where we are.
So much of my anxious struggle in that season concerned perfectionism — the inner pressure I felt to do everything right and never make a mistake. (This was exacerbated, I'm sure, by the vocational reality of being an editor, whose job it is to fix all mistakes and render each project spotless.)
It was a pressure, for me, akin to ascending the heights of heaven, of being like God, perfect and without blemish.
It was a pressure I couldn't bear.
But here instead was Christ, down on the floor with me, his forehead scratching against that carpet weave, just as mine was too. Here he was, looking directly in my eyes. Here he was, taking in all I felt. Here he was, with me, letting that be enough, helping me see my worthiness in his eyes.
This is the truth of God with us. This is what Christ's coming gives us.
This, truly, is reason to celebrate the reality that awaits us at Christmas — that God comes to us right where we are, not expecting us to go to him (as if we even could!). We get to be met. We get to receive.
How do you need to experience God with you, right where you are?
Come share your response in the Advent Meditations group.
In gratitude for his coming to us,
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