Last year, my favorite photo of our Christmas tree wasn’t really about the tree at all. The tree simply added some warm-fuzzies to this already adorable picture. It was less about the tree, and more about capturing the memory of my smiling, underoo-clad babies huddled together in a blanket fort at Christmas time. We were in a familiar home, near neighbors we knew and loved, and everyone was healthy. A lot has changed since then.
We spent Christmas in the hospital last year. And while there are some really precious memories that came out of that time, there are a lot of really painful ones too. So by the time we brought Ryder home, I was totally over Christmas. I was mad at Christmas. Too much happiness and sparkle. Too much fun. Didn’t Christmas know we were exhausted and scared and shell-shocked? Didn’t it understand we had more serious things to deal with? Couldn’t it see that our hearts had been shattered into a million jagged pieces?
Of course not… its lights were too bright.
I couldn’t have taken that tree down any faster if my life depended on it. I wanted nothing to do with glitzy decorations and fa-la-las. And for the last week or so I’ve had a knot in my stomach – partially because it’s December again, which brings an element of fear that if I let Christmas happen (as if I had a say) tragedy will strike again; but also because it’s time to put the tree up again… to get back up on my proverbial Christmas horse and re-learn to love it.
Well tonight, in an effort to keep my mind and body busy after spotting a suspicious looking character in the dark alley near our still-unfamiliar house, I decided to just git ‘er done. The tree’s been up for about an hour now. There’s not a single ornament on it, but the beauty of the lights as they reflect off the corner windows in my living room makes my breath catch in my throat.
“Yet God made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
We cannot see a reason… we may never understand why Ryder sustained such a life-altering injury. But we can rest in God’s plan, knowing that He already knows the end result. And we trust that He will take the stuff that leaves a bad taste in our mouths and repurpose it in amazing ways.
A lot has changed. But my God stands steadfast amidst the storms of this life. He is mighty and faithful, offering grace and peace to all who call on Him. May we not get caught up in the trappings of tradition and give in to the temptation to do everything, and buy everything, and so on and so forth. But instead, may we be content to sit and stare at the shining beauty of an empty tree. And may it remind us of that silent night so long ago, when a tiny babe was born to be the light of the world by dying on a tree, and leaving an empty tomb.Kinda hard to stay mad at Christmas when you think of that way, amiright?