I’m wiping up one kid’s throw-up in the middle of the night when I finally concede that this is a hard season we’re walking through. It snuck up on us and now we’re smack in the middle trying to survive each day and not let the whole circus come crashing down.
When you’ve walked through a traumatic season in the past, one that leaves you limping for the rest of your life, it seems trite to label anything less as hard or difficult.
Because this time around, we’re not lacking for work. This time around the bank account is full enough that we get to pour out rather than simply take. This pregnancy, we know where this baby is going to be born and that we’ll be bringing her back to not just any home, but to our home.
But a season can still be hard even when it’s good.
You can have abundance and still need to accept help.
You can be humbled by the goodness of life and still struggle with the day-to-day.
You can welcome the changes and still feel like you’re failing to thrive in it all.
This first week of Advent, I crawl back into bed after putting yet another child back to sleep and wonder if maybe that teenage holy Mama felt the same two thousand years ago? As the birth of her Son drew near, could she have been both rejoicing at the season she was in and still calling it hard?
She who was chosen because of her faith and yet had to endure the whisperings and speculations of neighbors.
She who carried the Savior of the world and yet had to travel miles by donkey in the days before His birth, to a town where she knew no one.
She who was entrusted with one of the most sacred of missions and yet had to give birth like a peasant in a stable, surrounded by gawking animals.
Might Mary have stood on the cusp of her greatest role and been both humbled by the goodness of it all but still found it hard, found it painful, found there to be sacrifice even in the blessing?
Maybe life is less of an either/or and more of an and/also. It’s not only good or bad, blessing or curse, either success or failure or only pain or joy. Maybe life happens most often in the tension between the opposites colliding, accepting that every day has reasons to rejoice and reasons to cry.
Maybe it’s embracing the season we’re in, being ok to call it for whatever it is and remind ourselves that it won’t always be this way. For better or for worse.
This Advent season, this time of waiting, of expectation and hope, maybe the thing we each need most is to give ourselves grace, to remember that the best days have hard moments, but also, to look for the beauty on even the hardest days (or longest nights).