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The Inner Game of Anticipation



“And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care in hopes that Saint Nicholas would soon be there” – The Christmas Story

The other day while watching the news I witnessed a report about the day after Thanksgiving fights in Wal-Mart. In one instance, there were two women, so upset, it led to a full-blown tasering over a discounted item. The newscaster jokingly referred to Wal-Mart as “brawl-mart.”

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year” – Popular Christmas Song

Have you ever wondered if all this nonsense is really worth it? I confess its things like this that cause me to ask big questions. It forces me to deal with the ugly side of humanity.  In reality, I am also forced to deal with the ugly side of me. The added pressure of the season can bring out the worst in me if I’m not intentional about tending my heart. Can you relate? Do you get swallowed up by the mayhem of the popular holiday traditions?

This year I decided to acknowledge my tendency towards a gluttonous Advent and clue into my inner voice by understanding the inner game of anticipation.


Webster defines Anticipation like this: “A feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen:the act of preparing for something.”

During this season what are you anticipating? Understanding what you are anticipating and why may help you to live more freely and fully alive.

Unplugging, from the noise in silent contemplation showed me that my anticipation meter had been broken. It’s been a difficult year and so I built up a few invisible walls in my heart. These walls are unnoticeable until I made space in my life to ask, “what I am truly anticipating in this season of Advent?”

I was stunned that somehow, life played a trick on me. The only things I anticipate are the challenges life is offering. Do you have daily time to sit down in a quiet place and think?

My Advent quest became clear to me as I processed the gap between what I am anticipating and perhaps what I should be. For me, the Advent season has become an inner game of anticipation. To set my sites on more that the popular holiday traditions like gifts giving, decorating and traveling. It has become my personal quest to set my sights on the things in life that matter most. To become more like an everyday champion looking to the future with hope that God is still in control.

Ideas to Consider:

  • Why not sit down the presents and begin pursuing God’s presence? I realized that I had completely crowded out the “God” stuff for the “gift” stuff. I have allowed my calendar to fill up with activities that have left me spiritually dry. Spiritually speaking how are you doing this season? Why?
  • Why not grow your inner-self instead of your outer-self? Why not exchange the feast for fit? By this, I mean spiritually, emotionally and physically. I still want to enjoy the great food of the season just less of it. In what ways can you get yourself in better shape come December 25th?
  • Why not gift time for yourself and those you care for? A gift of time truly can’t be measured monetarily. Building margin into your life while supplying the ones you love with more of you is not an impossible task. To accomplish this, it’s helpful to be intentional about your scheduling. What are three items you can change about your schedule today to build in the margin for tomorrow?

“I like to compare the holiday season with the way a child listens to a favorite story. The pleasure is in the familiar way the story begins, the anticipation of familiar turns it takes, the familiar moments of suspense, and the familiar climax and ending.” – Fred Rogers

The inner game of anticipation is really about connecting with the spirit of the season. It’s anticipating a new closeness with God, yourself and others you love. Whatever game you find yourself playing this season, why not play like a champ?

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