Last week I turned on the Today Show, as I typically do, and immediately noticed Matt Lauer’s absence. “He must be sick,” I thought, and went on with my morning. Several minutes later, I saw the headlines begin to populate my Facebook newsfeed. He was sick alright. Lauer had been fired for inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace. My stomach sunk.
Was I shocked? Immediately, yes, because there is a shock factor when someone is at work one day, in their twentieth year on the job, and fired the next. I couldn’t be surprised by these accusations, though. The emergence of #MeToo and the bravery of so many women who are speaking out about what has been done to them is incredible, important, and eye-opening. The sickness I felt in my heart and stomach throughout the entire day Lauer’s misconduct came to light indicated that I’m certainly not desensitized to this kind of news. However, I don’t flinch at these stories as much anymore. I’m grateful for them in the way one might be grateful that a tumor is spotted. Only when it’s acknowledged can it be taken care of.
And yet, I ache. After Lauer’s firing, I told a friend how I wished that was “it.” I wish that his firing meant we’d reached the end of naming all those guilty of sexual harassment and assault and now we’re a whole and healthy society, at least in this area.
What a wish. In reality, I know we’ve probably only scratched the surface in calling out the perpetrators of sexual misconduct. Progress has been made and yet there is so much work to be done. It’s overwhelming — the grief, the pain, the level of just plain wrong that has been committed.
I sort of stumbled into observing the season of Advent. To be honest, it all started because I was bored at church. Ironic, right? It was the first Sunday of Advent just a few years ago and I was scrolling through Instagram in the back pew of the church because I’M NOT PERFECT, OKAY?
While scrolling, I happened upon Advent Word, a global advent calendar that provides one word prompt a day, along with a meditation. In turn, participants post one photo on social media that reflects the word or their prayer/response to it. I decided to participate and it significantly deepened my experience of the season. Now, I can’t imagine my year without Advent—a season acknowledging that everything is not as it should be, but it one day will be.
During Advent, we anticipate the coming of Christ. We recognize our own need of and longing for forgiveness, grace, and new life. And, dear God, do we need forgiveness, grace, and new life. It really is enough for each of us. It has to be. If the presence, grace, and forgiveness of God isn’t enough for Matt Lauer, it can’t be enough for me.
Advent reminds us that Jesus Christ was, He is, and He is to come. I need those truths so deeply today. When I hear another story of a woman being sexually assaulted, I need Jesus to have been present back then, and to be here now, and to be coming back once again. After all, this level of human brokenness cannot be healed with a public apology or by boycotting a particular television network. It’s bigger than that; this is a job for a Savior.
Is all hope lost for goodness to be found today? Absolutely not. God is still working now, and we get to have our boots on the ground to help bring light, justice, and healing to the world. At the same time, we have the hope of Jesus returning in the future, when we’ll experience full, heavenly restoration.
Everything is definitely not as it should be; that’s blatantly obvious. This year, I find myself embracing the Advent season all the more earnestly because it invites the pain of what is to be felt, while we remember and hold to the hope of what will be. I’m tired of waiting for things to be fair and right and just, but that they weren’t is what brought Jesus here in the first place. Current events make me aware of our brokenness, our lack, and our longing for something more; Advent makes us aware of our brokenness, our lack, and, in our longing for something more, hope. And that hope is just what I need when I turn on the television to see more lives harmed by sexual assault.
This year, I’m going through a more personal Advent devotional but will one day return to participating in Advent Word. However you choose to engage in this season, I hope you are met with the spaciousness to feel what you need to feel — the grief, the heartache, the pain . . . and. And the hope. Because although everything is not as it should be, it one day will be.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
—O Holy Night