We bought a Christmas Tree.
In the beginning God created it and gave the tree to us for Christmas. It was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of it. And the Spirit of God was hovering over me as I set out to add the lights:
First, the lights from last year didn’t all survive. Of the strands that remained, a few of the bulbs were no longer working, but not enough to make a dramatic effect. So I began weaving the green wires in and out of the branches.
About 1/4 of the way up, I was out of lights.
To the store…
Once home, I opened a fresh new box of 300-count lights, only to realize that the plethora of lights were packed into a mere number of feet. Three green wires were tightly braided together to form an extremely dense cluster of lights. Fearing a return to the store, I untwisted and manipulated the 300. I tucked and stretched. I stepped back to view. Nope. No way. No how. The center of the newly donned tree shone as bright as a burning apartment building, while the lower branches twinkled like stars. I untucked and unstretched. I twisted and manipulated. There was no way these lights were getting back into the box. If only they responded like my son’s tummy when I tell him to “suck it in” to button his pants.
I had to forget the tree for a minute…so I moved on to a new room and found a nice ledge to softly drape my now contorted strand of new Christmas lights. It was pretty. Whew.
And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.
With morning came another trip to the store after dropping the kids off to school. Promises were made to have the tree ready for decoration when they returned. Three boxes of 150 lights…double checked…no clusters of lights.
When school was out, next to the tree I opened and untied the first bundle of 3. I wove under and over, forward and back. Lots of twinkling sparkles. Beautiful. The first box was a success. I opened and unwrapped the second and went to connect it to the previous strand. NO!!! No outlet. I didn’t buy the lights that connect one strand to the next.
“I am NOT taking these lights off,” I said to myself. I continued with the new box, sneaking the cord to the original source of energy down the trunk of the tree. With what remained, I placed the rest of the lights between arms and fingers of branches. It wasn’t too noticeable. Disaster averted. Onto box three.
I turned to reach for it when I saw that my little helpers had already broken the seal…
Sigh..now to untangle the third strand of lights.
I draped the lights over one child and asked them to follow carefully behind me as we circled the tree with the last set of lights. Again, I threaded the plug down to the outlet first, then climbed the step ladder to start sprucing up the last top third of the tree. Half-way around the whole tree went dark.
And there was evening, and there was morning, the third day.
Back to the floor to find my chaotic daisy chain of plugs and wires. Unplugging and switching order and figuring out which lights or line of lights were the culprit. The section of last year’s lights were to blame. I stripped the bottom rows of branches and pulled and stretched at the new lights to avoid starting the whole process over again. It kind of worked. I figured presents would cover up the bottom anyways…or maybe we’ll go heavy on the ornaments down there.
I headed back to the top untouched portion of the tree and the last bit of lights. Round and round we went until every light was intentionally placed for the best overall effect. You’ve got to be kidding me. About a foot of the tree remained unlit.
I turned to the staircase, where our stockings were hanging, tied over stiff and scraggly garland and one short thin strand of about 50 lights.
With a huff, I forced each tiny bulb under each knot that held each of the 6 stockings.
Back to the ladder, where I just threw the flimsy 4 feet of lights at the peak of the tree, tucked in the ends a little and stepped back to look at the finished tree…FINALLY.
Not too bad, I thought. But now it was entirely too late to start the reminiscing of each homemade ornament as we placed them on the tree. Promises broken.
And there was evening, and there was morning, the fourth day.
Bright and early we woke to head off to school. As the kids made their way down the stairs, I heard while back in my bedroom closet… “What happened to the lights on the tree?”
And there was evening, and there was morning, the fifth day.
I avoided the tree for nearly half the day. When it finally became apparent to me that I was letting an oversized stick have rule over my day and my joy, I went through the leftover Halloween candy. Yep…didn’t touch that tree. I ate green Twizzlers and a fun-size PayDay instead.
And there was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.
Surely, I can light this stupid Christmas tree in a week. Today is the day.
After removing 3 strands of lights (I don’t even know where the 3rd came from), buying one more box of 300 (the right kind that connects end to end, and adding an extension cord with multiple outlets, the tree is done. It ain’t perfect, but it’s done.
No lie, when I stepped back and took the final look, the “Alleluia Chorus” came on the Pandora Christmas station. You can’t make that stuff up. Now I’m just praying it doesn’t start an electrical fire between now and Christmas Day.
And on the seventh day I finished my tree that I had lit, and I rested on the seventh day from all the work that I had done.
A whole week was spent unwiring and disconnecting to produce light in a dark place. The analogy is not lost on me. When I am dark in spirit, when my light seems to have fizzled out, it takes time to rewire my heart, to reconnect with the Spirit. It doesn’t take time because the Spirit is slow to react or that I have to wait for the Father to reset His gaze upon me. God never leaves me nor forsakes me. Rather it is I, the twisted and confused amidst the prickly needles of this world. Because I am slow, because I have to reset my eyes to Jesus, it takes time– intentional time in quiet and still places. Again, I am reminded that this is Life After Rehab. When the temptations of relapse make everything a blur, I, like the addict, have to step back and re-evaluate where I am vulnerable and weak.
Back in the series of posts: 7 steps for Life After Rehab, I addressed all of the things that I already have forgotten. Step 7 was “Stay alert for signs of a relapse”…yeah, that would have been a good one to remember. I haven’t been alert, as evidenced by buying the wrong kind of lights…twice.
I rewire with a heart of thankfulness and gratitude. I reconnect with quiet time in the Word and in prayer, becoming comfortable to sit still and just listen to Him…scary as it may be. I am relit by all of His blessings and all the ways He loves me. I am recharged by His words of love and forgiveness for me.
“For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”
2 Corinthians 4:15-17