No real Christmas tree is perfect. There’s always an ugly side. A side with limbs going every which direction. Some limbs might be super short. Others long. Some sticking up. And others drooping way down. There are always gaps and those areas you try to cover up with plenty of lights and ornaments. Once you get your tree inside and in its spot, you turn it and turn it again until you find the best looking “side,” and that’s the side you want to be seen. The ugly side you hide up against the wall.
This is what we do in life also… all the time, but mostly around the holidays, right?
We might be going through an “ugly” that we don’t want to be seen by others. This could look like a loss of some sort, a conflict you’re a part of, a hurt you’ve experienced, a difficult relationship, a sickness, etc.
We all have them, and around this time of year we participate in the holiday cheer, showing our best front, and hiding the ugly, hurting side.
As I write this, my family is in the middle of experiencing a very challenging time as my father-in-law is suffering with ALS, an incurable disease.
We are feeling the very real and raw emotions of lament and grief this holiday season. The pain is present all year long, but when held up in contrast with the holiday cheer, it seems even more piercing.
You know when people say they feel extra close to God when they’re going through a difficult time compared to when everything is cruising along easily? It’s because they have an even deeper dependence on God and need for him. It’s because, when in these seasons, there is a longing for comfort and rest that can only be found in God and not in the world. That is why we turn to him and seek him more than ever when we’re hurting.
My prayer for you is that you find that comfort, rest, and stillness this Christmas– in Christ alone– even amidst all the hustle and bustle. And in doing so, the REASON that Christ came will show even more clearly. To give hope and to provide a way through the hard times of life. That is why we can celebrate this Christmas.
This holiday season let us hold both bitter and sweet moments together in one hand. In the bitter moments, we will feel it… immensely. And in the sweet moments, we will linger… cherishing.
Both bitter and sweet
Both sorrow and cheer
Both sadness and sparkle
Both melancholy and fun
Don’t be afraid to show BOTH sides of your “tree.” Soak in all the magic that this season brings, but allow yourself the space to feel and be real as well… leaning hard on Christ in every moment.