Advent: Where’d the Warm Fuzzies Go?


“I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” Isaiah 41:18

Every year I look forward to the day after Thanksgiving when I can – in good conscience – turn my radio dial to the Christmas station. (Halloween is too early, you holiday fanatics!) The Christmas croons Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby always make everything better, don’t they?

Like clockwork I program the station in my car first thing Black Friday morning. And I wait for it – that warm, fuzzy, nostalgic, everything-is-right-in-the-world feeling. Ahhh. Here it comes. The sleigh bells. Santa’s jolly reindeer call. Even the whiny voice of a girl begging for a hippopotamus or a man droning on about Christmas shoes. Year after year these Christmas classics have offered me a reprieve from the craziness of the season.

“Oh, I’m tired,” I’ll say. And then Madonna’s rockin’ rendition of Santa Baby gets me back in the groove. “How in the world am I going to get everything done?” I wonder. Another rotation of Feliz Navidad puts the spring back in my step. “I hate the rush. I just can’t keep up,” I say to myself. Until Andy Williams reminds me: get a grip, this is The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.

But this year has been different. For the first time – EVER – I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And the fuzzies never showed. The feelings didn’t come. The music hasn’t been working [Insert perplexed, sobbing, annoyed emoji here.]

I’ll just say it. Christmas music is driving me mad this year. I can barely stand it. Why? Well, maybe its the answer to my husband’s prayers: he’s disliked nostalgic Christmas music ever since his days of working retail at the mall during Christmas. All it takes is a few beats of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree to resurrect nightmares of folding piles of clothes till 2 am! We like to refer to this as “Mall Trauma.” So, maybe it’s an answer to his prayers, but I have a hunch that’s not it.

I’m not totally sure, but I think something inside of me has shifted. I’ve noticed a change. I’m kind of desperate. I’m kind of unsettled. I’m kind of achy.

It’s like this year I’m hyper-aware that life is … HARD. Like really hard. As much as I wish with one switch of a station that Johnny Mathis could take away this weird ache in my heart, it isn’t working. I keep trying. Every day. But a few songs in, I just switch it off.

Infidelity, divorce, sickness, suicide, miscarriage, mental illness, debilitating fear, broken relationships, hopelessness, loneliness, rejection. Over the last six months, in one way or another, I’ve been (and I’m guessing most of you have been) hugely impacted by all of these. It can start to feel overwhelming and that’s to me. Me. First-world, suburban, comfortable me. When I take my eyes off of the pain of my experience and take a look around our city, our country, our world, its not just a little overwhelming, it’s completely, all-consuming, gut-wrenching overwhelming.

I’ve been following the ongoing drought in Brazil – the worst in eight decades. Have you seen the pictures? Ugh. The headlines are full of words like “Devastation,” “Crisis Deepens,” “Desperate.” Armed guards are actually escorting water trucks so they aren’t hijacked. Restaurants and bars are using disposable cups and silverware so they don’t have to do dishes. Residents are walking miles across town to line up at a water spigot with soda bottles and buckets. One expert put it like this, “We are entering unknown territory. If this continues, we will run out of water.”

Those headlines ring true for me this year, truer than the words of Elvis Presley or Dean Martin. I’m devastated by what I’ve seen. And it seems like it’s only getting worse. And I’m desperate.

I’m desperate for hope.

I’m desperate for peace.

I’m desperate for love.

I’m desperate for joy.

I am desperate.

While this doesn’t seem very merry and bright – I’d never make it as a radio DJ at Star 105.7 – it doesn’t get much more Christmas-ey than this. This is what Christmas is all about.

You’re despairing. You’re lost. You’re hopeless. You’re confused. You’re stuck. You’re alone. Forget the trite words of Taylor Swift.

You want the warm fuzzies? Check this out.

“I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” Isaiah 41:18

The Christmas story holds the best news for us, for the desperate.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” Isaiah 9:6-7

And thanks to Christmas – God’s entrance into our world – love, hope, satisfaction, all the good stuff we long for, is rushing our way. And Advent – this entire season – serves as a reminder of that.

This week as we lit our Advent candles for the first time, I ached … and I hoped. Did you know the first of the four candles symbolizes hope? We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises He has made to us. Our hope comes from God.

And again, Isaiah says, ‘The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him.’ May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:12-13

Comments (2)

  1. Joy Reply

    December 8 at 1:16 pm

    Love this, Lauren. Thanks. :)

  2. Betty Straayer Reply

    December 9 at 1:08 pm

    thanks Lauren for sharing this message. You’ve captured beautifully what I have been feeling as well in this season. Profound sadness over the tragedies and hardships of people I love and know but also a desperate longing for my Savior to burst forth with hope, peace and most of all His presence during this season. At times all I can pray is come lord Jesus come. Blessings

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