It was one of those grouchy mornings. I have a hard time getting up on a normal day, but when it's especially dark and I've spent the previous night working instead of relaxing, it's nearly impossible to find the motivation to get up. When I do emerge from my warm cocoon, I'd prefer silence until, oh, say 11:00. But instead, I have a loquacious morning boy who chatters nonstop while having to be reminded over and over again to focus on getting ready for school. I tried really really hard to snap out of it, but was just having a hard time finding the sunny side. Some days are just like that, kind of like
In my head, I can rationalize how it could be so much worse. I have my health, my family, and a job I love (although it wears me to the bone). It's the most wonderful time of the year (as I keep getting reminded by the Christmas carols and ads constantly pounding in my ears). And I do love it all. And yet, there are just days where it all seems like too much.
In all caring professions, "compassion fatigue" is a term is often tossed around. It's easy to get worn down as you care for others, especially if you don't make the time for self-care. In our world, though, everyone is now subject to "emotional labor", the work of responding to many different emotionally difficult situations at once. We are exposed to this as we watch the news (or our Facebook feeds) and see all the disasters and also confront loss and difficulty in our own lives. MaryAnn McKibben Dana elaborates on it here. In our busy and disjointed culture, when we're expected to bounce from one thing to the next, we often neglect the time and space to process and be gentle with caring for ourselves, leading to days where the funk settles in. When we refuse to care for ourselves, sometimes our minds, bodies, and spirits remind us
But in taking a few seconds (literally) to reflect today, I think these times are necessary. How can we embrace the light if we haven't walked through the darkness? As I recently heard James Forbes preach (on DVD), although we put our focus on Easter, you can't have resurrection until you've experienced the death. In the same way, I think you can only find the light and hope of Christmas after you've wandered a while in the darkness and despair. The birth of Christ is good news because it reminds us that hope is born anew in us each time we return to wait in faith. It is not an easy journey by any means, but the great thing about light is its power to overcome the darkness.
May you find your faith strengthened as you wait, and may your journey through Advent bring you closer always to the light of Christ. May your spirit be reborn as you celebrate the birth of the Messiah.