How Are You Doing, Really?
Recently, my husband and I invited a group of his friends and their wives over for dinner. After we finished our meal, we decided to get out our Big Talk cards - thoughtful questions for intentionally engaging in meaningful conversations. We each drew one question from the stack of cards and took turns answering the one we chose. Every person could decide for themselves how deep to go with their answer. The question I drew was, “What have you seen lately that has strengthened your faith in humanity?” Another person drew, “What is something you started but never finished and why?” One of my favorite questions of the evening was, “How are you doing, really?” What a great question.
Later, I thought about that question for myself, in light of this season of Advent. “How are you doing, really?” I’ve been way busier than I’d like to be in this season. I have had major life changes in the past 12 months - changes that include loss, grief, fear, anxiety, but also joy and hope.
I lost someone who was important in my life.
I feel sad for my loved ones who are suffering.
I feel cynical about the fractured world I see all around me.
But I also feel hopeful for what God is up to. James Catford said early on in the pandemic that one thing we know is the Kingdom of God is not under threat. I know it deep in my soul and therefore I am hopeful and grateful.
I am also experiencing a mixture of loss, freedom, and joy. I left my job of 18 years on staff in a church so I could pursue spiritual direction and soul care on a full-time basis.
I am living into what I know the Lord has called and designed me to do - and I love it.
I am also adjusting to the change. I feel out of the loop with my friends, who were also my co-workers, because I no longer see them on a regular basis.
I still feel rather disoriented as I am trying out new ways of ordering my days and weeks.
My work life has changed, my priorities have changed, and I have changed.
Most of all, I am aware of what a gift it is to do what I love and feel called by God to do.
Not long ago a friend asked me, “What do you do to care for yourself when you get triggered by the things of life?” I run to God. I invite him into what I feel. I listen for His words of wisdom - and if I don’t hear anything from Him specifically, I rest in Him and I notice the loving ways He holds me, lifts me up, and walks with me. I remind myself that He is wisely shaping me in the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). I embrace joy, gratitude, and hope.
“Christ finds it worthwhile to come incarnate, in full humanity, and to know the fullness of our joys and sorrows. God meets you here in Advent, in the shadows, and brings the light of knowing well your full experience of life on earth. Jesus is truly Emmanuel, God with us. In this we find true joy.”
~Tsh Oxenreider, Shadow and Light
Advent is a season for preparation - for celebrating that He has come.
Advent is a season of invitation - to notice His presence in the here and now. Advent is a season of orientation - towards hope for what is to come.
In this final week of Advent, how are you doing, really? Below are two spiritual practices I think you’ll find meaningful this season.
Take some time with the Lord this week and tell Him how you are doing, really. Yes, He already knows. But when you share with Him, you draw closer to Him – and to discovering the ways He is with you in every experience of life.
Tell someone you know how you are doing, really. Make a phone call or put a date on the calendar to share your answer with one or more friends.
As I sat with the group of friends the evening we shared answers to our Big Talk questions, hopes, dreams, fears, losses, and griefs were expressed. We engaged with one another at a deeper level that night. It was community at its finest.
I always enjoy reading your thoughts - please use the comment section below to share yours.
Shadow and Light, Tsh Oxenreider
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