by: Rev. Alex Molozaiy
Last night I spent three and a half hours replacing all of the bulbs in a section of my ‘pre-lit’ Christmas tree. It was a tedious and frustrating experience to begin with, made even more so because both of my kids were chomping at the bit to start hanging ornaments on the tree before they needed to go to bed. I had to keep waving them off so that I could have unimpeded access to the lights that were out. My nerves were as frazzled as the wires looping around the branches. After meticulously going through each bulb one-by-one (twice!), the kids were long in bed and the lights were still unlit. I had done everything I could to fix it and there remained, as if to taunt me, the dark spot in the tree.
Perhaps it’s our overloaded schedules or the shorter days or the increased expectations of others who are depending on us, but somehow the everyday frustrations of life seem to be amplified this time of year. We can be knowledgeable, competent, and diligent in our duties, only to find a dark spot remains in our otherwise well-lit tree and we have to admit that we’re ‘powerless’ to fix it.
Like many failures, maybe there’s something to be learned from my frustrating experience. There are some things in our lives, try as we might, that we just cannot fix and will have to remain broken, dysfunctional, and yes, even dark. All of my attention was on the lights that were out and I couldn’t see the brightness and joy of the overwhelming number that remained lit. My fixation on having to work on the problem kept me in a place where I put off the joy of others in my family for ultimately no better result and I destroyed a functional set of lights that could have been a fitting replacement in order to try and get things my way.
I was considering replacing the tree next year, but now I’m thinking that I might keep it as a reminder about what this season of Advent and Christmas is all about: it’s about the light of God coming into the dark spots of our world, the ones we can’t fix on our own. It’s about the joy of spending time with our loved ones, not about achieving perfection (that seems only to last until the next time the tree is put up). It’s about learning from our mistakes, not dwelling on them. While I don’t expect my lights to miraculously start working, maybe their darkness has already helped me to see God’s light, that comes to us anew this Christmas.