Jack Bridges is the director of SHOP (Self-Help Homeowner Opportunity Programme) funds at Habitat for Humanity International. He is based at Habitat International HQ in Atlanta, Georgia. Read his Advent reflection below:
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. Proverbs 3:5, KJV
Most likely many of us have experienced moments of isolation, fear and uncertainty. When such feelings of powerlessness would overwhelm me, my parents always urged me to trust in the power of faith. That is where the tricky part for me begins, however. The coexistence of faith and expectations tended to blur in my world. When situations would spiral out of control, I realized my battle was not one that goes away with a prayer, a pill, a tweet or any other modern invention. It came back to the basics of truly understanding my faith and giving myself the room to understand that my direction was not always in my control.
I do not know the battle or the tribulations that you may be facing (a lost family member, financial hardship, loneliness, etc.). I do, however, believe in the power of taking the time to find the distinction between faith and expectations. I say search within yourself and give yourself the room not to know the answer or purpose. It is in this space that I found my bridge to discovery — about myself, the world around me, and my connection to God. The COVID-19 pandemic has taught me that the world is not ours to control, but we can take part in how we embrace or cherish our encounters with others.
At Habitat, we often are provided with pretty clear expectations on how to apply solutions to major problems. Often we collaborate to come up with responses that will help forward our mission. However, in other parts of our lives, we often encounter problems for which there are no clear and perfect answers. This is where faith comes into the equation for me. My expectations are not often my reality, but the framework of my faith guides me in how I engage the world. Our expectations are strong concepts that take us toward a possible goal. Our faith is the transportation that keeps us moving past the ups and downs.
Imagine the expectation of the people of God who were expecting a warrior messiah. They had a clear vision of what would bring them true freedom. The reality was far removed from their own expectations. During this Advent season, may we search within ourselves and celebrate getting to know our own unique faith. May we give ourselves the freedom sometimes to let go of our expectations and always to trust in our faith.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.