A few days ago my daily Advent devotional poised the question: “What is capturing your wonder as we approach Christmas?”
This question honestly stumped me for days. I love Christmas. The Advent season is filled with so much anticipation, reflection, and hope. The traditions are fun and memorable. We have cozy family time as well as joyful celebrations in church, our home, and in the homes of loved ones.
I know that for many, the holidays trigger feelings of longing, loss, grief, or nostalgia, and you may not feel the same joy that I am referring to above. My heart goes out to you in this time. I respect that some of you reading may not celebrate Christmas. But, keep reading—I promise you can still get something from this message.
There are so many things I associate with December 25th. But, I realized on that morning that I have forgotten about the opportunity to be filled with wonder.
I do call myself a wonderer. I almost always notice an amazing sunrise or sunset, or the stars on a clear night (when I am out and about that late). I will never stop being in awe of air travel, or other technological advances. I wonder at my own body’s ability to keep showing up to the hard things I ask it to do, including carry and birth three babies that have now become amazing young adults.
As a Christian, I thank God daily for all of the above, and for my very existence. So, it is ironic that I too have lost some of the wonder associated with Christmas. I can think of personal reasons for this, and can also blame our culture. But, I want today’s message to be more hopeful and positive. Rather than focus on the how and why my wonder is dim, I would prefer to seek out ways to find the light again. And I hope you can too.
How can we spark our sense of wonder?
- Seek out mastery and genius. I love to be in the presence of people doing what they were made to do. Athletes, entertainers, writers, coaches, etc. It inspires so much wonder in me to see them live out a life where their passion and skill combine in a display of expertise.
- Look at your life through someone else’s eyes. Last summer one of my athletes visited me from CO. As we rode our bikes through the very familiar-to-me Wisconsin countryside she commented on how she was surprised at how beautiful WI is. Her perspective, and willingness to share it, very positively impacted my sense of wonder surrounding my lifelong scenery.
- Approach things from new angles. I have lived in Wisconsin my entire life, and in our small suburb of Madison for fifteen years. Sometimes I feel like I am in an episode of a sitcom with the daily predictability and familiarity in our midwest community. So, I marvel whenever I unearth anything I haven’t seen before, because I have the opportunity to approach it at a different angle. This was so evident when my kids’ had their senior photos done. The photographer took us to common spaces, and when she looked at them through the lens of her camera, everything became new.
- Change the context. You move your body every day. You get out of bed, brush your teeth, walk to the coffeemaker and refrigerator. If you don’t already, I urge you to move your body in a more extreme way (may I suggest swim, bike, run, or strength training? ;)) When you do, pay close attention. Feel your heart beat, acknowledge your lungs filling with air, feel your muscles working to keep you moving. Our bodies are amazing, and sometimes it can be most evident when you bring hyper awareness to it.
- Travel. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars, and/or cross the globe to experience wonder. Take a drive. Try something new. And when you can, see the world.
- Slow down. I believe I have said this a few times before. 😉 It is almost impossible to be filled with wonder when you are fast-forwarding through life. It goes by fast enough, without us neglecting to acknowledge the passing of time. Move slower to appreciate the small moments.
(This list was inspired from a psychology today article)
I believe that keeping our sense of wonder can fill us with gratitude. It makes life feel more meaningful. It reminds us of how vast the world is, while also focusing on the significance of the smallest moments. It drives us to see people as the individual humans that they are, instead of expecting them to be, think, and act the same.
I hope you can find moments of wonder in this season and beyond.
Merry Christmas to you all.