November 30, 2012 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner
"Are You Full Yet?"
(This column also appears as the first reading in our Advent Daily Meditation Booklet. You can view and download a copy of this free resource at www.LivingCompass.org/Advent2012.iml)
As each of us enjoyed our Thanksgiving meals this year, we probably paused a few times to consider whether we should have one more bite, thinking to ourselves, “am I full yet?” If you ignored this question, or kept on eating in spite of your answer, you no doubt paid a consequence for it. Instead of enjoying your Thanksgiving you probably ended up uncomfortable and tired.
Now we each have another chance to ask the same question, “am I full yet?” We will each answer this question numerous times over the next three and half weeks as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. The pressure to overindulge this time of year is immense. It is so easy to say “yes” to the many internal and external expectations that we do not realize the cumulative effect of our decisions, until we are relieved that Christmas is over. The paradox is that all of this fullness leaves us feeling empty, as if all we did was eat dessert after dessert, somehow missing the main course.
If trying to be so full runs the risk of leaving us feeling empty, perhaps we might try a different approach this year. We might practice saying “no” to the expectations that we put on ourselves and allow others to put on us. In doing this we say “yes” to our need for quiet, rest and deeper connections with the people we love most. In doing this we may discover the other side of the paradox: emptying our lives of some things will help us to feel full.
There is another essential reason to practice letting go of the pressure of expectations this holiday season. God has a way of showing up in our lives in the most surprising and unexpected ways. If our lives are overly full, there is no room for such surprises.
Remember that in the story of Christmas the inn was full the night that Christ was born. Intentionally emptying our lives of busyness creates openings for Christ's love to enter our lives and our relationships anew this year, making room for the main course of the season.
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