Technically this is my fourth Advent as an adult, but it’s my first since graduating, and therefore the first Advent where I genuinely feel like I'm part of the ‘real’ world. It’s odd. I’m just about used to buying my own Advent calendar, but am still not good enough at budgeting to plan for all the gifts I have to buy (thank God for charity shops). I’m working this year as a chaplaincy assistant at a new university, and using my role to live my best Christmas life - going all out on decorations, running Advent craft sessions, writing quiz rounds, and most importantly singing carols at every appropriate (and inappropriate) moment. Yet sometimes I still wistfully look at photos from Christmas concerts and carol services from my old university and wish, just a little, that I was still wrapped up in the student bubble.
But the bubble has burst. And when I think back to what I was doing this time last year (spending the first week of my holiday manically writing the first chapter of my dissertation!) I breathe a sigh of relief and appreciate afresh life after uni. I loved university, but now I have left it is easy to only remember the lovely concerts, and not the gruelling rehearsals. To only remember the banter, and not how stressed everyone was. To only remember Christmas as a break, and not the worries about when revision was going to happen.
It’s easy to romanticise the past, especially when the future is uncertain. I have many friends who are currently struggling to work out what they want to do in the future. In fact I fall into the same category. This waiting, and wishing everything was sorted so we can get on with our lives is so often frustrating. That’s why I’m so glad that we have the season of Advent. I am so grateful to have time set aside at Church and in prayer where I can strengthen myself in waiting, and recognise that actually the best way to wait is to be present. That we can bring all we’ve learnt from the past, and all we hope for in the future, and use it to shape our now. Yes, seasons where we feel like we’re ‘waiting’ can be stressful and scary, but Advent is the perfect time to reflect on how we can embrace them. In this season, we wait in the knowledge that at the end of it is the joy of Christ’s birth. I challenge us all to remember Advent when we feel tempted to bury ourselves in the past to avoid thinking about the uncertain future. Matthew 6:34 reminds us that “each day has enough trouble of its own” - let’s embrace that and walk with God through it, trusting that “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Naomi is a recent graduate from Warwick university where she studied Classical Civilisation. She is spending this year working as Volunteer Chaplaincy Assistant at Keele University.