How foolish can you be? After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? —Galatians 3:3
If your Christmas tree could talk what story would it tell? Would it whisper, perfect? Or, would it shout, Hot Mess!
For several years I fell into this idea that my tree, like my life, should be perfect. If I placed all the right ornaments just so, I could project perfection and beauty.
I had a color theme every year. All angels, no Santa’s. I felt compelled to have a picture-perfect tree. Just in case Southern Living stopped by. Right? I know, certifiable.
That is not who I am. That is not my story. Trying to be someone else denies who God says I am. The messy me that can’t find two matching socks. The one who likes bright colors. Who says Christmas has to be red and gold? I checked the Bible to see what Jesus would do. His color was red. His tree didn’t even look like mine. His was about sacrifice. Mine was all about me.
Last year I pulled out all those mismatched ornaments. The less than perfect gaudy angels. The construction paper doves with foil wings. The fragile glass angels. The Santa’s and the photo ornaments the kids have given me.
Those construction paper ornaments still covered with glitter and foil from the 60’s hold so many memories. Of a table littered with cookie cutters. Red construction paper. Glitter. Foil. Family.
I’ve discovered all these mismatched ornaments are so much more. Each one holds a memory. Forever tied to a person. A gift. Hands that lovingly glued it together. The child that hung it on the tree.
It isn’t perfection that holds it together, it’s the love that made it, that shaped it, that wrapped it.
In Paul’s letter to the Gentile believers in Galatia, he reminds them they don’t need to become Jewish to be fully righteous.
For me, creating that perfect tree was my need to be in control. To create an outward appearance of fitting in with those other perfect trees around me. Through my own human effort, I tried to be something I wasn’t.
My life is sometimes messy; many things are mismatched, and probably missing a little bit of glue. But, each memory, each piece of foil, or glue, or glitter covered construction paper fits beautifully with the fragile china, handblown glass, and hand-carved angels. It is the memories and love that hold it all together. Like me, God’s Masterpiece.
It reminds me that God chose an unlikely place for a King to be born. A teenage mother, a reluctant father. A less than perfect time. There was no Town Crier to announce the future King’s birth. There weren’t even family or friends to share in the event.
It was in a messy stable. The only witnesses some shepherds and animals in the manger. This baby boy who would one day die for me. Die for you. Die for all mankind. He would redeem his people.
The heart of Christmas isn’t the perfection of my tree; it is in the perfection of the One who hung on a tree. The heart is Jesus.