My mood was sour and I was feeling unsettled. When I reached the checkout line, I received a kind smile from the cashier, who inquired about my weekend. I told him I had a mountain of assignments to finish and he sympathized, saying he was in a similar situation.
I went on with my day thinking about my conversation with the cashier. Our chat wasn’t one of significant depth, but it certainly turned my mood around.
Shortly after my encounter with the cashier, I saw how I had mistakenly chosen the darkness instead of the light that day.
At the start of Advent, I had a plan. My plan was to revamp my prayer life, to connect with God on a deeper level and to seek out the light of Christ in my daily life. But at that moment, I felt as though I was unsuccessful in epic proportions.
Within a day or two into Advent, I found myself overwhelmed with school, ministry, work and more. I felt like I had failed. That instance of impatience in the grocery store was more than just a one-time episode. It epitomized the lack of light I had been experiencing for the bulk of Advent.
I felt as though everyone else had their lives put together, while I have sometimes felt as though I have been hanging on by a thread.
This Advent has not been one of grandeur or of an externally beautiful, spiritual life. Most days, I have found myself in survival mode.
But as I drag my feet along, trudging my way to Christmas, I can see a light.
While I can’t see where the road leads, I do see light in front of me, guiding me along as I walk the path of God’s will.
While it seems to me that I have utterly failed at Advent, a small voice inside me says that this is not the case. After all, how is it possible to fail at something one is not responsible for achieving? It is God alone who brings light, but it’s up to me to choose it.
For now, He is bringing me towards the manger. I can see the newborn child, waiting for me to hold Him close. In the silence of my heart, I thank God for His patience among the messiness that has been my time of Advent.
As my proposed plans fell apart, I felt God pick up my broken pieces, make them beautiful in His ways and prepare my heart to see Jesus at Christmas.
Let us not be ashamed of our weaknesses or the darkness that may be filling our hearts and lives. Christmas is a time for celebration and joy, regardless of our state of life.
(Atkinson, 20, is a first-year journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ont.)