Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Thrill of Hope in a Season of Humiliation

I realize it's been a ridiculous amount of time since I last posted. I could blame it on the fact that I'm in the process of writing a book while also working three part-time jobs, or I could just call it what it is: avoidance.

Confession over. Now onto bigger and better things.

I've been feeling lately like I've been in a season of humiliation. Before I go much further, let me clear up what "humiliation" means. The dictionary definition is: "the act of humbling someone, being reduced to lowliness or submission," and it adds that "humility can be self-sought, but humiliation involves something [or someone] else."

Okay, so what does that mean? Though we often use it to mean "embarrassment" or, in my shameful case "things that are comical for me to see and laugh at," the word humiliation is more about being reduced to lowliness or being humbled. And, it involves either some other force or person in the process.

How has my life been in a season of humiliation lately? It's hit me the most in my jobs lately. My retail job is a complete waste of my Wheaton College degree—monetarily and academically. Every time I work, I'm acutely aware of that fact as I repeatedly have to convince customers that we are sold out of certain items and I'm not just making crap up. I've been substitute teaching, and while it's been fun to get to know some students a little bit, most of the time teachers don't have me teach much; they leave work for the students to do on their own. In those times, I'm just the necessary breathing body that's over 18 and officially has to be in the room with the kids. The teaching skills I honed over the past two years—all the hours of prepping, grading, and classroom development—are pretty wasted in that avenue. I think the only skills I'm actually putting to use right now are my volleyball skills since I'm assisting a club team.

So, it's been a season of "being reduced to lowliness" and definitely of submission. I'm not completely embarrassed or anything—I've accepted what's happening, but it is a little bit of a bummer to feel like a lot of my skills and abilities are completely wasted right now. Though from time to time I doubt and question whether my decision to move home and write a book was really from the Lord or just a big mistake, most of the time when I remember my goals, I'm affirmed in my purpose here. My submitting to what I think is His plan has brought me to this place of "humiliation" where I look around and think I probably won't be putting anything I'm doing this year on a resume so as not to lessen its effectiveness (unless I get published, that is).

I was struck the other day with the thought that it's probably fitting that I feel like I'm in a season of humiliation since it was definitely a season of humiliation for Christ. He didn't arrive triumphantly or gloriously resplendent; He was born in a stable and placed in a feeding trough for animals. THE KING OF KINGS, btw. Not that He was embarrassed, but rather, it was a season of humiliation because He was physically "reduced to lowliness and submission" by His own willingness but also because of the sins of the world.

In light of that, my "season of humiliation" seems pretty miniscule, and it's made me more okay with that. In church, our pastor has been teaching us why there's no need to fear. We've been looking at Luke 2:8 and following, and Pete preached on the verses of the Christmas story that we've all heard time and again. In verse 10 the angels tell the terrified shepherds, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people," and in verse 10, they clarify what that good news is: CHRIST. "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ, the Lord" (v. 11).

What a simple answer to our fears and doubts: do NOT fear, do NOT worry, do NOT be dismayed: Christ is here!

As we sang "O Holy Night," I was struck by a line that I've sung probably thousands of times but never thought too deeply about:

"A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices."

Singing that made my eyes water. In this season, I miss Hawaii and the life I built there. I miss my students and my work as a teacher. I miss feeling stable, a solid routine each day, and knowing that I'm doing something purposeful. It hasn't been the most victorious feeling season, but that line in the carol is perfect.

He is my thrill of hope amidst a dark world in which I feel pretty weary at times (I realize that sounds dramatic—my life isn't bad and I'm blessed...I know that...but still, I get discouraged fairly easily). I rejoice in this season because without His coming down and being born, I would be stuck in my hopelessness and weariness.

What a reason to celebrate! Sitting in my room looking out at dead trees, winter-gray skies, and what just looks cold, I miss the tropical breeze, soothing ocean waves, and sunshine of Hawaii. But, I think the deadness of everything in Dallas makes me more aware of how great and what a "thrill of hope" He is compared to my circumstances.

So, rejoice because He is a thrill of hope in our mundane lives and oft-changing circumstances. He suffered a season of humiliation to give us that hope, and that is a greater gift than any I will receive this Christmas or any other.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand,


(P.S. As for not feeling super victorious lately, I heard back from a publisher the other day who is interested to know more, so praise the Lord for that! He clearly knew that I needed some affirmation in what I've been doing. Thanks for your past and continued prayers for my book!)


Lisa said...

Hannah -
Raw and beautiful post.

I love you. I love this. I can relate. Let's talk :)

With love,

Jill Pursell said...

Love you! Merry Christmas! You are an amazing woman!