First Week of Advent: Options

What do you do when you’re not sure whether you’re meant to continue something that you’ve been doing for a long time? There are many answers to a question like this.

One is you just stop, and see how it feels. Depending on how frequently the practice is, you take a week off, or a month, or a year. You decide to live without it for a while, and then you pay attention to what happens internally when it’s no longer a part of your routine. Maybe you return later after you rediscover a love for it, or maybe you discover how much happier you are without it and never go back.

Another option is you push through, possibly past the point of your tolerance for it. If you somehow rediscover your energy and passion for it, then you celebrate that and keep on keeping on. Or you completely crash and burn, and then you never want to be associated with it ever again.

The third…is there a third option? I mean, another option would just be you keep doing it and enjoying it, which probably means you weren’t struggling about continuing. If you still like it, then discernment about making a change isn’t a very pressing need. Maybe you tweak your approach to keep things fresh, but that’s different from agonizing at the crossroad between continuation and abandonment.

I’ve been at several of these crossroads the past few years. The first was whether to continue in pastoral ministry. For this, I chose Option One. Ask again later whether the rediscovery part happens or not.

The second was this blog, or rather, whether to finally leave the old one behind and start this one. I’d been living through Option Two for a very long time and saw the burnout coming, so here we are.

The third, such as it is, is this annual series of Advent posts. I did this for a very long time, enough to be able to compile many of them into a book. And when that happened, I started to wonder if this had run its course. Maybe a new blog and a collection of past reflections means this should be done.

And yet, I wrote this, and you’re now reading it. I don’t think this is an Option Two scenario, or at least it doesn’t feel like one. It’s not inertia or habit or obligation that moved me to do this. I’ve just reached the point where it doesn’t feel like Advent unless I write these. This has become an integral part of my own movement through this time of year.

This series–the reflection, the act of writing, the entire experience–helps me find hope. This does for me what decorating, baking, caroling, and whatever else does for others.

Maybe that’s the fourth option: not doing it because you enjoy it, but because it’s become a part of you. So here I am, writing through the season, seeking hope in my own way.

If you enjoyed this reflection, check out my new Advent ebook, Four Weeks: Reflections for Advent.

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