When Life Gets in the Way


annie rim -when life gets in the way2

I entered Advent with a bit of a swagger this year. We’ve done this before! We’re figuring out a routine and rhythm that work for our family! I don’t want to use the word “expert,” but “confident” definitely encompassed my attitude as we approached that first Sunday in December.

You probably know where this is going. With a two-year-old and a five-year-old, was I really expecting sweet candlelit moments every evening? Was I actually thinking I’d have a slow cup of coffee by the fire each morning, quietly reading my own devotional?

Why did I think that I would find pause in December when I can’t seem to find it in October?

Often I allow myself to think that life has gotten in the way of beautiful spiritual practices. I imagine an almost monastic rhythm to my days but that just isn’t my reality. One time, I tried setting my alarm to remind me to pray the liturgical hours. It lasted a day and a half as my stress levels went through the roof at my phone ringing every three hours, usually during the most chaotic moments.

I enter the season of Advent with an idea that I’ll wake up in the dark hours, cup of coffee in hand, sitting before the fire with the glow of the Christmas tree’s lights, devotion by my side, breathing into the morning. For a dose of reality: This morning I was awakened by a completely nude child letting me know it was time to “eat my coffee.” Not exactly the stuff of stained glass windows.

But there’s a certain beauty of life being in the way, isn’t there? Recently, a friend who lives in a cabin by herself in the quiet nowhere reminded me that it’s not as glamorous as I’d imagine; that she wishes for the noisy chaos of my life.

I guess that’s what I’m remembering. Advent is about life being in the way. It isn’t about creating quiet candlelit moments. It’s about pausing in the midst of it all, of recognizing that Jesus came as a small, loud, fussy, mischievous child. That God chose to reveal the divine to humanity in the most chaotic of forms: a kid.

This season of Advent isn’t any different than the ordinary season of October. The difference is that we collectively remember to pause, to expect, to anticipate. It’s a bit of a communal reset, to remember the whole point of these days of hope and lament and reconciliation.

I’m learning to remove the word season from my Advent practice. Advent is the state of spiritual space I long for year round. Shouldn’t I be in active anticipation beyond Christmastime? But I’m not, because life gets in the way. So, I use Advent to recalibrate and remember. I use it to not only long for redemption of this earth but redemption of my days.

I keep lighting the candles, pouring coffee, and sitting by the fire, devotion in hand. Some mornings this doesn’t happen at all and when it does, there’s no silence—I still have naked children running around, pushing their own books into my hands, reminding me that there is beauty in letting life get in the way.

Annie Rim
I live in Colorado where I play with my daughters, hike with my husband, and write about life & faith. I have taught in the classroom, at an art museum, and now in the playroom. I am honored to lead the Red Couch Book Club here at SheLoves. You can connect with me on Twitter & Instagram @annie_rim or on my blog: annierim.com.
Annie Rim


  1. Kathleen Bertrand says:

    Oh goodness, this is good!!! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. And although I have been trying since this morning to comment, this is all I can mangage to type out as I am rather suspicious of the silence upstairs where my two munchkins currently are…

  2. Oh, Annie I just loved the realness of your words. Even without naked children life still gets in the way. (More of my doing in our empty nest.) I needed this reminder to keep finding the beauty in our days.

    • I’m so glad this still resonates, even without nudies! 😉 Thanks for the reminder that this isn’t a season- it’s a lifelong practice of finding beauty.

  3. Colleen Reid says:

    This is a conversation my sister and I have regularly. I call them self-spectations, and so often they get in the way of our ability to be present. Thank you for sharing your heart Annie.

  4. Yes!!!!!!!! This is my life! I have delusions of grandeur followed by constant disappointment that I don’t live in a Christmas movie or a Monastery;) This is the best thing I’ve read this advent. Trying to love the life that gets in the way!

    • I’ve spent the afternoon imagining a Hallmark movie set in a monastery…. Here’s to embracing our real, actual lives in spite of our lovely expectations!

  5. Stacey Pardoe says:

    Oh, Annie . . . I was attempting to read your post as a 3-year-old tried to erect a toy rifle-turned imaginary Christmas tree just inches from my face. As the “tree” toppled again and again, his frustrated whines interrupted my coffee and thoughtful reading, and I smiled as I realized you were writing about the very thing I was experiencing. This post was food for this mama’s weary soul this morning. May we learn to live in an ongoing season of Advent in the midst of our messy lives! Bless you, and have a very merry and energetic Christmas!

    • Haha! Oh, I’m glad it spoke to you (though hopefully not as aggressively as a rifle-tree!) Here’s to wild and crazy Christmases and the lessons of Christ mixed in!

  6. I laughed out loud as I read (I hope that’s ok . . .), because I’ve been in that exact space before — setting an alarm to remind me to pray and feeling the stress burning as it interrupted a math lesson or an intense discipline moment — or a mummy melt down. I’ve looked around me at the chaos and wondered how to fit laundry and preparation for at least 75 meals into the 25 days of December into which I had idealistically scheduled quiet contemplation and daily readings with four rowdy male children.
    Thank you for this mini-lesson on the purpose of Advent — just as we contemplate and lament during the “season” of Lent before we celebrate Resurrection, Advent reminds us that the reason a Savior was born is that we, in our brokenness, SO needed one. And we still do.

    • I’m glad I’m not alone on the alarm failure! 😉 I love your breakdown of the number of meals leading up to Christmas – definitely puts those longed-for quiet moments into perspective! Merry Christmas, Michele!


  1. […] Often, I don’t even realize I have expectations until they’re unmet. I’m over at SheLoves Magazine today, reflecting on how life is always in the way of holy moments. Here’s an excerpt, but I […]

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