Editor’s note: Enuma Okoro is a public speaker and lecturer on faith, spirituality and identity. She is author of three books, including her latest, "Silence: And Other Surprising Invitations of Advent" and writes a blog, Reluctant Pilgrim.
By Enuma Okoro, Special to CNN
(CNN) – Before I am an American, I am a Christian.
This order of self-identifying does not in any way negate the gifts and responsibilities that come with my being an American, a Nigerian-American at that.
But it brings me face to face with the tension of claiming my faith identity above all else in a culture that's more comfortable glossing over challenging – and sometimes painful – elements of spiritual narratives in exchange for what can be mass produced and neatly packaged in a box.
While many are in the midst of Christmas cheer, I am still in the season of Advent, a time of waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus Christ.
For Christians, it is a time to mark a new year, a beginning. It is a time that I contemplate the pending miracle of Christmas.
The Advent invitation to silence, to open lament, to hope, to trust, even when it seems foolish, that God keeps God’s promises is a time to remember who we are. Especially now, after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Advent helps me remember we are all to be a part of the healing of the world.
My fear is that most of us miss the true meaning of this time because of our American cultural tendency to mine the sacred for what can be mass consumed.
We also live in a “feel good” culture in which we strive to make ourselves as comfortable as possible.