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Season of Waiting and Impossibility

As many of you know, my husband took a new job as the Head of School at Taft, a boarding school in Watertown, CT. His position was announced a year ago. He started the job in July.

He moved into the house that comes with the job last week, on the heels of an extensive renovation. For now, the girls and I are staying put in a rental house in Washington, CT, 25 minutes away, so that Penny can finish her senior year of high school.

We know it is the right decision for our kids. We still see each other a lot (we go there on the weekends. He comes to us two nights a week).

Season of Waiting and Impossibility

And it still feels like a season of interminable waiting. It also feels like a season of impossibility.

There are the little impossible things: It is impossible to remember which house has groceries in them and where I left my slippers.

But there are also the scary impossible things: Penny turns 18 at the end of December. She graduates from high school in June. She has an intellectual disability. Should we petition for guardianship? Should we navigate the somewhat uncharted waters of supported decision making? Navigating the choices ahead, supporting her, protecting her, and honoring her as the capable and competent young woman she is becoming all feels impossible. (I was on NBC News last week talking about how our family navigates disability.)

And then there are all the hopes and dreams I have for writing and speaking and teaching. I’m working on a new book idea, but finding a “big enough” audience for a publisher to want to publish those ideas—after over a decade of trying to build a platform, impossible.

How Advent Helps Me Find Hope

I suspect I am not alone in this season of waiting, or in this season of impossibility. Which is why Advent comes as a particular gift this year.

I’ve been heartened to think about Mary, pregnant, waiting for months on end to see whether the impossible birth would become real. She’s given me two reasons to hope.

First of all, that season of waiting was not a season of stagnation. Every single day of her pregnancy, new life was growing within Mary. What if there is both purpose and protection inherent within the waiting? What if our seasons of waiting are also seasons of incredibly important and necessary growth, seasons of preparation for something new to come forth?

Secondly, God was doing an impossible thing in the birth of this child. Madeleine L’Engle called Christmas the season of the “glorious impossible,” when God came to earth in the form of a baby. Advent is exactly the season for me to come to the end of myself, to come before God with my desperate need for God to do the impossible things. I will be faithful in what I’ve been given—the small tasks like getting milk in the fridge, the larger decisions about Penny’s future. I will be faithful to the work of writing and speaking. But I will also ask God to take care of the impossible, as Tish Harrison Warren said on my podcast last week, the “actual things in our actual world that we cannot solve on our own.”

What gloriously impossible things do you need to ask God to do in your life and in our world right now?

(And if you are also in a place where you need to pray for the impossible, here’s a recent post I wrote about how to use the spiritual imagination to do exactly that.)

Waiting with purpose. Praying for the impossible. It has all helped to turn my heart from fear and despair to hope and—at least some of the time—peace.

May the same be true for you.

More with Amy Julia:

S7 E7 | How Advent Resists the Culture Wars with Tish Harrison
Using Our Spiritual Imaginations to Envision a Good and Possible Future
Advent Devotional: Prepare Him Room
Advent, Hope, and Canceled Parties

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