Today’s Blog entry is written by Jenna Legg, who serves Vocation Ministry Coordinator for our congregation. Jenna offers a reflection on the struggle that often exists in responding to God’s call.
While Advent is usually expressed as a season of “joyful hope” and preparedness, I also believe there is a somberness tangled with the expectation. Especially in the first week of Advent, our readings are focused on the struggling state of the Israelites and their desire for a savior. Thankfully, we hear from prophets that God has heard his people and is sending “a just shoot” who will bring justice and peace.
While this certainly is good news, the Israelites waited at least 500 years for these prophecies to be fulfilled in the person of Jesus. And even after His birth, it was another 30 years before Jesus began His ministry. In a smaller way, our vocation story can share similar tangled emotions.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had the desire to be a mother. Upon wrestling with vocational discernment in college, I realized the desire for motherhood was deeper than I ever imagined; my call to mother was not simply the desire to physically bear children, but to be a spiritual mother, to nurture and care for the spiritual and emotional needs of the young people I minister to. Since meeting and marrying my husband, the desire of physically bearing children reemerged with a deeper meaning, full of its own advent sentiments.
Shortly after our first anniversary, my husband and I realized it would be difficult to have our own children. I spent time in prayer and despite medically unanswered questions, I still felt confident in God’s call for us to be parents. As each month passed and we were still without a child, I clung to the story of Abraham and Sarah, wondering how they passed through the years of waiting. Did they doubt God’s promise that he would make Abraham the Father of many nations? Did they assume God was talking about a spiritual fatherhood rather than a physical one? Did they try to forget this promise from God simply because that was easier than believing it and wondering when it might happen?
To me, these are the sentiments of the first week of Advent: the juxtaposition of living in a state of injustice or sorrow while having the faith that God will make all things right. How can I simultaneous ache for a child and celebrate the joy that God will enable us to parent in the future? How can we as Christians recognize the imperfection in this world and be confident in the one that is to come?
Perhaps Advent is about learning to hold both realities within us without lessening the fullness of either one. Discerning a vocation can be an unsettling time even if we trust in God to lead us to His call. This Advent season, let us tend to both realities within us – the discomfort and the faith.