The Weight of Advent

by | Dec 11, 2013 | Uncategorized

When you feel like a limping survivor through the wrestle of waiting, the arrival of Advent can mistakenly be translated as adding years onto what already feels like a death sentence. Really God?  More waiting?


Collecting the lengths of my hair in both hands, I pull them through elastic into a floppy bun on the top of my head. Saying yes to bangs seems like a good idea while staring in the mirror draped in plastic, until summer makes a return visit to the beach in winter. And the hair you were born with doesn’t cooperate, curling up like the shade on your window.

That good idea becomes a lesson in futility and a balmy 70 degrees gives permission to be myself.

This morning, I retrace steps of a neighborhood path; empathize with the trees holding onto their blazing red cheeks and golden halos in December. Lingering in the promise of cheerful shimmer, winter threatens to rise inside my chest.

When what you know on the inside of your root system doesn’t match your circumstance, even the familiar seems off.

Passing ponds of stagnant water, families of turtles sun themselves on water logged branches.  Plunking into murky depths, as my presence gets closer. The same way I retreat to what I know, the familiar and what I’m good at, when I’m entering a new place of calling. Like the disciples going back to fishing after all that time with Jesus, it seems ridiculous doesn’t it?

Continuing up the hill, around the golf course, a man wearing a fedora saunters toward me holding the strap of a metal leash attached to his rusty brown dog walking at a slant. With each step closer, the dog tugs hard on the leash, making the man’s gait clumsy and awkward. “He’s determined,” I laugh and allow the dog to stand next to me, tail wagging furiously as I pet him. And the man waits quietly at a distance.

Is this dogged determination the posture I take in waiting? I desire God to hold the leash on my foolishness until I see something I want, only to abandon all discipline and obedience in order to obtain it. Leaning hard toward selfish ambition he allows a kink in the tension of his grasp, letting me face the consequences. In the end, all I have is slobber on my knee caps to show for it.


“Hey Lady,” I hear echo off the pavement, bounce off towering pines swaying overhead. As I continue walking my final steps toward home, I turn around to the small voice of a boy wrapped in blankets, sitting in a stroller, every finger outstretched on open palms, waving.

I return his cheerful greeting while maintaining my pace.

“Hey Lady,” he yells a second time and I turn around to an apology from his mother.

A reminder that coming to him like a child is all God asks of us. We don’t need to apologize for that.

Sometimes, when you feel like you can’t wait any longer for the fulfillment of promise, he nudges you to walk on the path of his faithfulness. One step at a time unlocks the door that was tightly shut on his voice. During the in-between of where you’re going you’ll hear Him speak, through waving branches and a family of turtles all lined up; a strong-willed dog and a child’s innocent voice. And the shackles that felt like a death sentence of unfulfilled promise transform into the message of hope and freedom, “I haven’t forgotten you.”

And you’ll realize that fighting the process of waiting is a lesson in futility. So you let your hair down, watch it curl up, and go with it.

Linking with Tell His Story, Tuesdays Unwrapped, Playdates with God, Imperfect Prose and Thought Provoking Thursday.


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  1. Heather

    Oh, friend. This is lovely and earnest and oh, so relate-able. Your Spirit-filled gift of observation is a gift to us all. Thank you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Heather, your words are more of a gift to me than you know. I appreciate you taking the time to leave them here.

  2. Christie Purifoy

    I love that we both wrote about the “weight” of Advent waiting today. Praying for lighter and lighter steps the closer you come to Christmas and the day his promises to you will be fulfilled.

    • Shelly Miller

      I’m feeling lighter today Christie as I do the mundane stuff of planning Christmas. I’m finding joy in polishing silver, re-decorating the house and lighting candles for the fun of it. You too my friend, may you find joy in the simple things that feel like the hope of promise.

  3. DeanneMoore

    I never waited in the weight of Advent like I have this season. You know I am a wrestler, but this time, I cried “mercy”. Walking by faith, not by sight. There is so much freedom when you know that you know that what is before you is in Another’s hands. Love you today.

    • Shelly Miller

      So true. Sometimes getting to the end of ourselves is the very best kind of gift we didn’t anticipate or expect. We are forced to let go whether we want to or not. Praying for you today.

  4. Kris Camealy

    walking the path with you…He is faithful and never late. Clinging to this under the weight of waiting. XO

    • Shelly Miller

      Faithful and never late . . . yes and amen. I’m holding on to that.

  5. Carolyn Counterman

    Waiting with you. And for the record, I like your curly hair. It frames your face beautifully. 🙂

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Carolyn, you are very sweet. Those who know me well say the same thing.

  6. Lisa notes

    I do not like to wait. Sigh. But yes, we need to continue on the path of faithfulness even as we wait. He hasn’t forgotten us. Thanks for that reminder, Shelly. He is always with us even in the waiting.

    • Shelly Miller

      We do so much waiting don’t we Lisa? Waiting in line at the store, at the bank, at the airport, for dreams to be fulfilled. And in the middle of our impatience he is working it all out. I remember that often, that he is often silent but never still.

  7. Mia

    Dear Shelly
    It is not always easy to truly realize how totally vulnerable, fragile and dependent on God’s love and goodness we really are. When we realize how much He loves to show Himself strong in our weakness, it is easier to just let our hair down and look at the world with the eyes of a child!
    Blessings XX

    • Shelly Miller

      May we always remember that Mia, to come to him as a child and not be ashamed of that.

  8. Mary Bonner

    The waiting is so. very. hard. yet necessary. I don’t like it, but I am learning to go with it. For me, you have woven words on a timely loom. thank you

    • Shelly Miller

      Woven words on a timely loom . . I like that Mary. Thank you.

  9. Summer

    So real and simple. Thank you for your vulnerability. I hate waiting. Someone gave me a book on waiting for my birthday and I couldn’t read it even though it was written beautifully. Waiting with your arms full of longing is just plain painful.

    • Shelly Miller

      I know what you mean Summer, I had to chuckle when you said you couldn’t read it but honestly, I probably would feel the same way. Like trying to eat gravel, who wants to do that?

  10. Lyli Dunbar

    Shelly, we are in a season of waiting at our house… He keeps nudging me to keep walking forward in faith, and here is another nudge through your story. Thanks

    • Shelly Miller

      Love sacred echoes, they are a gift aren’t they Lyli? He is faithful to show us he is with us like that. Glad these words were a nudge for you.

  11. Being Woven

    Absolutely beautiful words to me this morning. I just kept reading and not wanting to stop for they flow and touch my heart. As God gave you words, Shelly, I have been blessed. ~ linda

    • Shelly Miller

      What a lovely compliment, thank you Linda.

  12. Duane Scott

    Waiting with you, praying with you, that I can remain silent within during this Holiday season.

    Like “Being Woven” said below, the flow of your words in this post is beautiful.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you Duane, what a treat to see you here in the comments. You are good company during this season of waiting. Thinking about you as you work with those in need of healing during Christmas.

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