Advent of the Soul: Get Ready for Your Brightest Year Yet
When you get to where you’re going, where will you be?
I ask myself this question often as I easily confuse busyness with productivity. I imagine you fall into the same trap as well. Consider this, how many times a week do you ask someone how they’re doing and they respond with a slight sigh, eye roll, and an arsenal of reasons there’s just not enough time in the day. “Life is just so busy these days!” I’m definitely guilty of it. I tend to wear exhaustion proudly like a badge of honor just so you don’t have any qualms or confusion in your mind about my level of productivity.
I’m pretty sure shame is the culprit here. Last year, I read Shauna Niequist’s book, Present Over Perfect, and was rocked to the core by her level of honesty regarding her addiction to productivity and responsibility.
“We all have these complicated tangles of belief and identity and narrative, and one of the early stories I told about myself is that my ability to get it done is what kept me around. I wasn’t beautiful, I didn’t have a special or delicate skill. But I could get stuff done, and it seemed to me that ability was my entrance into the rooms into which I wanted to be invited.”
In my case, I find myself hustling for acceptance by constantly going, achieving, producing. It feels really good, until the payoff just isn’t enough anymore.
We all do this to some degree. There is a lack of perceived deficiency as well as a need for acceptance, so we buy into narratives of belief about ourselves that were validated by someone important to us at some point along the way. Eventually, subconsciously, these beliefs build out a life blueprint of identity. I believe discovering and aligning with our truest self is absolutely crucial in order to thrive and throw off the thin storylines we’ve bought into. They don’t hold up anymore.
We must take time and space to ask ourselves this vital question: Where am I going?
There’s no better time than now to ask. Stop addressing those Christmas cards, just for a minute. Chances are, if they’re getting a card, they also care about your overall well-being.
According to the Western liturgical church calendar, the season of Advent is upon us. I’m not concerned whether or not you consider yourself a religious person or church-goer, what I am interested in is your desire to stay grounded and committed to a vision for your life that’s evolving— flourishing.
Advent simply means ‘coming'. It’s an anticipatory time of preparation for hopeful things yet seen. In church tradition, this thing is the birth of Christ, a savior. It includes all these beautiful, sacred practices enrolling candles, wreaths, songs, smells, and colors. I often attend an Episcopal church that’s super liturgical and relic-heavy. They do ritual really, really well and I absolutely love it, largely because I need all the reminders I can get. Rituals create infrastructure and order within to practice life-giving reminders.
You and I have the opportunity to apply these same rituals this season to the interior spaces of our lives and daily experience. I call it the Advent of the Soul. That’s a really woo-woo way of describing our own sacred processional of time and space leading up to the birth of unique dreams and desires for the coming year. The community we want to build, the business we want to start, the relationships we want to attract, the cities we want to explore, the joy we long to cultivate, and on and on.
The cool thing about this process is just how much power unlocks as we tap into it and access its truth. Other bonuses include: you don’t have to dress up, leave the house, or fight the cold of Sunday morning. Traffic’s never an issue, oh, and the doors are always flung wide open, ready to welcome you in.
This advent takes place in the most exquisite cathedral—your very own heart and it’s offered all day and every day, wherever you are. Disclaimer: this largely depends on our decision to stay present and awake instead of checked out with Netflix, a vat of Chex Mix, and a tumbler of Chardonnay.
Rituals are meant to ground us, and that’s exactly what I need this time of year: a strong tethering to hope and a steady guide into truth. This ritual of advent locks into my favorite daily practice: writing. Don’t worry; I’m not heaving more homework on your already crazy schedules. This will only take ten minutes, (of course more if you’ve got it!)
Answer these three questions:
1) What have you gained in 2017?
2) What is your word?
Pick one word that is meaningful and representative of this new season and write it down. Take a minute to unpack the story behind that word. For example, I spoke with a man the other day who described this heaviness he’d carried the past several months due to lots of family drama. He desperately wanted to put that unnecessary extra baggage down and decided “Levity” was his word for 2018.
3) What narrative or belief are you willing to let go of that’s holding you back?
Write that sucker down and see what comes up. Try not to judge it, just notice what’s there.
Now commit to these truths, over and over and over again. This is the stuff of that magical, sacred journey called rebirth— the Advent of our soul. You will forget, stumble, and fall into those dusty dark corners of old familiar voices time and time again. That’s not the point. The point is you keep daring, keep reaching, keep walking, one foot in front of the other, into what will come. It’s a courageous path to forge, and most settle for a lesser resistance.
You, my dear, are not most.
Love & Gratitude,