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Motherhood. Neighboring. Grief. Sarcasm. Jesus.

Writing what I’ve learned along the way.

This Weary World {includes free Advent Mourning calendar}

This Weary World {includes free Advent Mourning calendar}

The weariness of the world – do you feel it too?

 I’m often asked if I’m tired - a rational assumption to make of a mom with an infant. Was it the third day of yoga pants or the second day of no mascara that was your first clue?

This weariness is more than physical though. Life is heavy because heaviness constantly weighs down on those around us. This is the nature of entangling your life with people whose lives are hard every day – their grief becomes yours.

Our pastor affirmed the nature of this kind of weariness. “When members of our Body suffer, we all suffer. And if we don’t recognize this suffering, then our ‘we’ is too small, too nationalistic, too white, too whatever we think separates ‘us’ from ‘our brothers and sisters who are suffering.’”

And so we are weary because we can’t just send our positive thoughts and keep scrolling:

The gunshots we heard seemed louder than usual. It wasn’t until the next day we learned a thirteen-year-old girl was struck and killed by these stray bullets when they shattered through her bedroom window. A couple of blocks away – is that too close because it could have happened to you? Or a vast expanse because it didn’t happen to you?

My husband took a punch to the back of the head from one of his students. The punch wasn’t meant for him though.

Our daughter is one of a few white kids at that same school. Her skin is noticed and treated as special by many, and it’s annoying to the few who tell her, “We don’t play with light-skinned kids.” I feel incredibly uncomfortable by both of these scenarios. If race is on my mind this much every day, what does that mean for people of color?

My husband called me: Our daughter’s teacher shook sixteen bedbugs and cockroaches out of her classmate’s backpack. I threw her clothes in the dryer and promised the good Lord I’ll give up Instagram if He would spare me from a third bout with bed bugs.

On Thanksgiving morning, I felt homesick.

My husband called me again, this time from across the kitchen. The urgency in his voice told me it must be a spider. Way worse – t’was a cockroach. Slightly better – t’was not a bedbug. When I asked a few friends if they’ve ever dealt with cockroaches before, I couldn’t shake the sense that I felt dirty. It was just a speck of poverty’s shame brushing across my hearth. One day I’ll accept that our annual budget must include funds for an exterminator.

Our friend fell off the wagon. More accurately, she hasn’t been on the wagon for a long time and the drinking recently destroyed the stability she just spent months working incredibly hard for. “I’m just so tired,” she says at least three times a week.

And then it was Thursday. Every week, Thursday has the audacity to demand we put in one more day of this life before the weekend. I abhor Thursdays.

But then there’s the birth of Hope – do you recognize it too?

Sandra Parks, the girl who was killed, wrote an award-winning essay about gun violence two years ago: “Our first truth is that we must start caring about each other. We need to be empathetic and try to walk in each other’s shoes. We shall overcome when we eliminate the negative and nasty comments we make about each other. We shall overcome, when we love ourselves and the people around us. Then, we become our brothers keeper.”

We invited everyone on our street over for donuts and cider. Our daughter asked, “What if nobody shows up?” That was my worst fear. That, and people showing up. Three neighbors came. We learned about taking the train to Louisiana, about how our block has changed over the past forty years. Most importantly, we learned their names. As much as senseless violence shoots up our streets, it’s not the only story happening here. I love our neighborhood.

 It was Thanksgiving evening, and our friends had us over for dinner as family.

I put up our Christmas tree, a few strands of garland, and enough Christmas lights that I shouldn’t need to use any light switches until January. I love the symbol of light during real and metaphorical winters.

Our pastor came over to pray with us. And then the next day our friend emailed to tell us he prayed for us on his way home from work.

My baby smiled at me.

I sat on the couch with our daughter and read a few stories from the Old Testament. We talked about how all of it was part of a much bigger story pointing to a special baby. All of us are part of a much bigger story that we aren’t the main character of. 

As I’m typing this, the tears of this weariness finally start to fall. It’s salty, but it’s a relief to process all that is heavy: Jesus, I lift all of this up to You.

Jesus – the hope we’ve all needed all along.

I can’t ignore this weary world whose grief doesn’t end just because it’s Christmas. And I can’t ignore the hope embodied in our newborn King.

I can look away from neither, so I must embrace both.

The birth of Hope. This weary world rejoices.

Advent begins tomorrow.

As my gift to you and the weary world around me, I created an Advent calendar of scripture passages and short reflections meant to articulate the complex reality of living in pain while waiting in hope. I want to demonstrate that Christmas is not only an invitation to the brokenhearted to join in the fun all the merry folk are having. Christmas is for those who mourn – who recognize their weariness, longing, and need for Christ to come.

It’s free – there are no gimmicks or sign-ups.

It’s a complete download – you can print it or access it through our phone without waiting for me to post or email you each day. {I’ll be honest, that’s part of my gift to me through the rest of the holiday season – rest.}

It’s written in the form of “we” – not because we experience the same kind of sorrow, but because as part of the Church, we are not meant to grieve in isolation.

Use this link to download the PDF file:

Advent Mourning Calendar - 2018

 Whether or not this Christmas season is “merry,” I pray you’ll have a holiday filled with hope.

Grace and Peace,

Kendra

 

Wrestling Toward Gratitude When Life Isn’t Great

Wrestling Toward Gratitude When Life Isn’t Great