Advent: Treasure and Ponder

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It’s been quiet at The Happy Alternative, and I feel like I owe my humble crew of readers and handful of new followers an explanation for the “deafening silence,” as one friend called it. Slightly dramatic, I know. I don’t think anyone is checking every day for updates, but here are my thoughts… just in case.

Some people have asked whether I’m going through a hard time, which is understandable given my post in October regarding storms. I’ve had a few stormy days since then, but these dark winter days actually feel much sunnier. I’m starting to feel like my old self — that is, the new self. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). I attribute these brighter days entirely to being more immersed in God’s Word, which causes me to talk to God more, which causes me to love him more, which causes me to worship more. So, no, the trickle of blog posts here isn’t due to storms. I’ll write my way through those any day!

Laziness and lack of creativity are partly to blame, but I think the silence is mostly due to what I’ll call The Mary Factor.

This Advent, you’re likely to come across one of my favorite verses during your readings. In Luke 2, when the shepherds come to see Jesus, they tell Mary and Joseph what they saw in the field: an army of angels shouting, “Glory to God in the highest!” Everyone is amazed, undoubtedly talking to one another about what happened in the hills of Bethlehem. “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” There’s the verse! When faced with the weight and wonder of these things, Mary didn’t blog about her thoughts and feelings; she treasured and pondered.

That’s something I do a lot. Which is why launching a website has always felt like a weird move for me. I’m pretty private. I don’t feel specially qualified to write about theology, sexuality, or anything else. I don’t like the pressure of deadlines, however self-imposed. And if I didn’t feel called by God to speak up about singleness and same-sex attraction, I probably wouldn’t. (I’m sort of the Jonah of blogging.) But I do feel called, so I write. Draft after blasted draft, I write. And when I’m not — in those long stretches of silence — I’m usually treasuring. Pondering things in my heart.

Advent only increases my desire to take in rather than spew forth. But because I have a guilty conscience about being the blogger who doesn’t blog, and because the internal nagging is actually intruding on my Christmas bliss, I want to make an exception, pull back the curtain, and tell you what I’m pondering this holiday season.

Namely, Jesus.

Every day I’m reading several chapters of Isaiah, which anticipates his first coming (or advent). I’m also reading the gospel of Luke, which boasts the longest account of his birth. Finally, I’m reading Hebrews, which explains and expands on his coming, with a plea to persevere in faith until he comes again. Taking in such truth and beauty in preparation for Christmas has truly rekindled my love, adoration, and affection for Jesus. And I do want to talk about him! We’re supposed to. But there are times when, like Mary, I need to first let things settle in my heart awhile. I think that’s what Advent is for. But we’re so busy buying, wrapping, cleaning, cooking, performing, and DOING, that we forget to treasure and ponder.

So that’s what’s happening here. Maybe in the New Year I’ll be a little less like Mary and a bit more like Paul, at least in terms of output. But for now, I’ve got a lot to treasure in my heart. I hope this Christmas season you’ll find lots to treasure, too.

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3 comments on “Advent: Treasure and Ponder

  1. Nichol

    I love when you ponder… I think more of us should. I believe you ARE called to do this work and despite your feelings, I believe you are most certainly qualified to write the things of your heart and not only by your academic achievement but by the fact that you are called of God and by your innate and heavenly gifted attributes. I believe that “whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies” and that your “faith, hope, charity and love,” (and as long as I’ve known you) having “an eye single to the glory of God” also qualifies you for the work. He knows you and He chose you. You ARE qualified and you bless many by your words, your strength, and your Spirit!

  2. Stephanie

    Bryan,
    I am so glad to know the time of Advent called you to contemplate what God has said, done, and promised. Pondering, considering, treasuring, contemplating as Mary did in her “Christmas carol” of Luke 1:46-55 renews (or rekindles as you said) my desire to praise HIM as well. The Magnificat – Mary’s Song of Praise – is so beautifully personal. I delight in reading it, pondering it, and singing it. Whether we worship alone or corporately, may all of us desire to have our very souls magnify HIM and our spirits rejoice in God our Savior! Happy New Year!

    Here’s a portion of the Magnificat to feast on today…

    My soul magnifies the Lord,
    and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
    for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
    for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
    And his mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.

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