I just lit the final candle of the Advent wreath; Christmas is just days away. My presents are all bought and wrapped and I am knitting up a storm, trying to finish all my ornaments before Wednesday! I'm looking forward to gathering with family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Tonight I pause to reflect on the emphasis of the 4th week of Advent: Love. There are so many directions I could go with this post. Love, in my opinion, is the best gift you can give and receive. I am lucky to have been raised in a house filled with love. No conversation with a family member ends without an "I Love You," and my somewhat reserved father always says it when hugging me good-bye after a visit home.
This past year has taught me a lot about love. I went through a difficult break-up in January that left me feeling pretty hopeless. As the months passed by, I watched a couple of friends get married, celebrated a few friends' engagements, and learned that my baby sister was getting married next August. I was so happy for all of them but couldn't help but feel that while they were moving forward with their lives, I was standing completely still. There were a lot of tearful nights, phone calls to my mom and girlfriends, and some heavy conversations with my brother Kevin.
While I wouldn't wish to go through that break-up and its aftermath again, I have learned lessons that I wouldn't have learned otherwise. I have learned that I have a family that is truly there for me. I have grown closer to my brother Kevin, and his family, and now know that if I ever feel alone or lonely, I am always welcome there. I've learned that it's ok to reach out to family and friends and that I shouldn't feel guilty for needing to do so.
I don't know what path God has chosen for my life, but I know this past year has made me a stronger, healthier, happier individual. I'm so much happier and at peace than I was last year at this time.
The love and support I have experienced over the past year doesn't even compare to the love we receive from God. God's love is never-ending and He loves us for who we are, bad habits, sins, and all. I try to focus on that whenever I am feeling down. After all, through God, all things are possible. So I will continue to put my trust in Him and will remain hopeful that 2009 will be a blessed year for me.
I'll leave you with a line of scripture that sums up the meaning of the Advent season and God's love for us.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)