Advent: Slowly Tending Our Hearts

Posted December 4, 2023 by Sarah Green

Categories: Featured, Sarah, Sister Post

As a young mom, I had strong ideals. I yearned to figure out all the answers. I admired moms who resembled perfection and I longed to emulate them. High standards seemed virtuous. Yet, high standards often back-fired as I lost sight of my purpose. What my heart really longed for was to love my children well, walk alongside them, and enter into the beautiful mystery of Christ. Through this desire, I learned how to turn my try-hard efforts into a slow-paced savoring of our Savior.

In my try-hard efforts years ago, I set out to teach my children the real meaning of Christmas. I yearned for them to understand the reality of this beautiful season that I had come to understand.

Advent is derived from the Latin word, adventus, meaning coming. Jesus is coming, and Advent is intended to be a season of preparation for his arrival. While we typically regard Advent as a joyous season, its preparation is much like Lent. Prayer, penance, and fasting are appropriate during this season. 

I knew this time would be an opportunity to grow closer to Christ and anticipate his second coming, one day.

Strategically, I set out to organize new traditions. I designed the month of December with purpose and precision.  Sadly, those efforts didn’t go as planned. Perfection only sets us up for failure. 

Although my efforts were far-fetched, they were not futile because God honors our desires and knows our hearts. My labor had valuable intentions, which God harnessed and eventually made use of in my life. After a few crash-and-burn years, I realized a slower pace through Advent, as well as parenting. Little did I know the slow journey through Advent wasn’t just for my children. Eventually, Advent became a season that slowly tended my heart.

Advent’s lessons are to slow down, become expectant, and long for the coming of Christ.

Sarah Green

I believe God honors our efforts, even if our motives aren’t always correct. When I learned that everything would never be “perfect,” I slowed down and took things in bite-sized chunks. What God desired was my heartfelt intentions, but mostly just my heart, and that’s what he wanted me to share with my children. 

Advent’s lessons are to slow down, become expectant, and long for the coming of Christ. Many of the customs already implemented in our traditional Christmas seasons have meaning. For example, the Christmas lights on homes awaken our longing for the light to shine in the darkness. Slowing down does not mean giving up all that we love about our Christmas traditions. It may just mean starting where we are with one new thing. 

Traditions are beautiful. The rhythms tend to our hearts and teach us lessons the fast-paced world cannot. I challenge you to add one simple tradition from this list this Advent Season:

1. Read an Advent Devotional (even if you start late).

2. Read a children’s book each day (or whenever) about all the lovely stories pertaining to Christmas. The Legend of Saint Nicholas, and The Legend of the Christmas Tree are a few good ones.

3. Start the tradition of the Jesse Tree (yes, late is better than never). This is such a simple, yet beautiful, tradition that can pass a legacy down through the ages.

4. Light Advent candles at dinner and read a Scripture. 

5. Utilize Advent Calendars.

6. Pray together as a family. 

7. Serve someone in need.

8. Fast from one thing you know is overdone in your life (while you pray for those less fortunate).

9. Instead of decorating the tree immediately, consider adding just one ornament a day leading up to Christmas. My children love this—each morning they take one ornament out of a basket and find the perfect spot for it.

10. Consider transporting your Nativity pieces slowly throughout your home during Advent making their way to the manger on Christmas day. We tuck Baby Jesus away until his birthday.

Start where you are and remember that God honors all our efforts, even a zealous young mom trying to get it all right. He gently guides us to where we need to be. Advent truly can be a season that slowly tends our hearts even in the hustle and bustle of it all. 

How can you slow down and prepare your heart for the season of Advent?