Emmanuel and Showing Up

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The first few days of Advent, I felt irrationally angry. I tried to call it irritable, or easily annoyed, but when I sat down to dig through it all what I found was anger. Advent is an invitation to the waiting, and frankly, I would like to decline. No thanks. Can’t come. Wish I could participate in your waiting, but I am busy doing other things, like doing, receiving, leaning into the completion not the waiting.

Based on my estimation I have been waiting long enough. According to my life plan, last Christmas was my last season of waiting. Yet here I am, in more or less the same place I was last year, wondering when the waiting will stop. I am ready to not be in the waiting.

I have a lot of questions. There are a lot of what-ifs, and if-thens, and then-whats that I am holding. No matter how many times I hop on Zillow while googling the stats of the town I may or may not live in next year, it leaves me with only fleeting comfort. I really have no idea where I will be putting up the Christmas decorations next year.

There is nothing to do but wait. And be honest about how hard that is right now.

I was leaving voice messages back and forth with a friend who was in this exact place last year, the place of waiting, of not knowing, of wanting and being afraid of wanting. She was also in the place of transition, seemingly stuck mid-leap with no place to land. She has been in this place that I find myself in. She knows how worthless the platitudes are.

So instead she gives it to me straight. She tells me that my greatest wishes could be granted, and that she is certainly praying for that. She tells me that my greatest fears could be realized, and that she is certainly praying against that. She tells me no matter what, that on the other end of this I will be there, she will be there, and God will be there. With us.

On the other side of this fear and angst and not knowing, God will be there. God will show up. Maybe in my wildest dreams, maybe in my cloudiest fears, maybe and probably a strange mix of both. But God will be there, with us. At the end that is the only promise to cling to.

It is hard for me to believe that right now, that God will show up. It is hard to see through the thick glass of expectation marbled with pre-emptive disappointment. It is hard to believe. So my friend shows up. I get a little bleep on my phone while I am making dinners or grading papers. We leave each other messages with the chaos of the kids in the background. She shows up.

And I thought I needed big answers and grand gestures. I thought I needed answers and completion and the waiting to end. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve got them I will take them. But what I really need is for God to be with me. What I really need is someone to keep showing up.

Abby Norman

Abby lives and loves in the city of Atlanta. She swears a lot more than you would think for a public school teacher and mother of two under three. She can’t help that she loves all words.She believes in champagne for celebrating every day life, laughing until her stomach hurts and telling the truth, even when it is hard, maybe especially then.

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  • Beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing. I can relate. <3

  • Abby, beautiful reflections. Thank you. I feel I have been in this place forever. Not a new city but dreams that are half-fulfilled and having no idea when or if they will be, no idea if God will just teach me to be content where I am instead. Those people that show up where you are, they are priceless. Such a reflection of the God who is still there even when we don’t see it.

    • Abby Norman

      Thank you for this Nicole. I am with you.

  • I find myself in this space of waiting so often, and I handle it poorly. Thanks for encouragement to think on a better path in the waiting.

    • Abby Norman

      You are not alone in the handle waiting poorly camp. It is soooooooooooooooo hard.

  • Patrick Bowman

    What a post! Brought me to tears. I resonate with Nicole’s comment so much. It’s not so much the destination with me as it is the “destiny” I’m waiting for. But as I’m fond of telling others, “Faith is living with the questions while we’re waiting for the answers.” And sometimes that just plain sucks. Thanks Abby for putting into words what I think a lot of us are feeling but haven’t taken the time, as you have, to articulate it.

    • Abby Norman

      Sometimes that just pain sucks. I wish we were allowed to say that in more spaces, man is it true. Thank you friend, I too am waiting on destiny things as well, they are the harder things for me to wait for.

  • Rebecka

    It feels a little bit like God showed up for me in this post today. Thank you.

    • Abby Norman

      Oh Rebecka, I am so glad.

  • I’m glad your friend is showing up. I’m glad you showed up and told us about it. xoxo

  • Anytime we mere mortals get to show up for each other in these holy ways, it takes my breath away.

  • Terri

    “It is hard to see through the thick glass of expectation marbled with pre-emptive disappointment.” I love this line, I keep coming back to it over and over again. I can see the thick class with its marbling and everything I see through it is distorted and out of focus – and yet, I keep looking instead of being in the moment. Thank you for sharing your heart, you give me much to think about.

  • Abby, thank you for your writing. Just last night I read the heart broken words of a friend who is deeply entrenched in the “waiting” of her life and she is in so much pain. I could relate. Sometimes the Christmas season, or Advent, makes me hurt more than feeling a sense of cheery anticipation. It reminds me of all that breaks and tears, waiting stirs up my discontent, fear, anger, frustration etc. because I’m not present to that which I am waiting for. At least that is what I experience. I am learning to be present to the people and the presence of God in my life as I wait. Finding God and others to be enough sometimes is tough for me. But I’ve had moments when God’s presence brings a sense of safety and the love and presence of others have been His hands and feet to me in the physical form. Thank you for your words. They are more true for most of us than we’d like to admit!

  • Waiting is so hard when there are so many unknowns! And yes, just having someone show up helps so much. Just knowing that people are there for you to sit with you in the waiting and support you through it! Blessings to you dear, sweet Abby! xo

  • “stuck mid-leap with no place to land” – Yes. I’m there too, and I too am so tired of the waiting. Thank you for sharing with us.