It’s that time of year. It’s hard to tell by the light of day, but once the sun sets, you can’t miss it. Hundreds, Thousands and in some places , millions of tiny little lights twinkle and dance and generally take your breath away.
These radiant little bulbs remind me quite a bit of this past year.
Life used to be easy. I usually got what I wanted, and even if I didn't know it at the time, as I look back I realize I never really wanted for anything. I don’t think my dad or my brothers would argue the fact that I may have been a tad bit spoiled. As I grew up, life didn't really change in that respect. I married an amazing guy that was all too willing to continue spoiling me and make my life as perfect as possible.
But things happen. Economies fail. Jobs are in short supply. Times get tough. For the past several years our feast has slowly turned to famine. And all the things I thought were important fell by the wayside. I learned the obvious lesson that things are just things. And I honestly never missed “things”. I had my family and that was all I needed.
But I've now lost so much more than things. Still reeling from the loss of my lovely mother in law, and devastated from the untimely passing of my brother in law, this past year I lost my role model, my best friend, my sounding board, my advice columnist… I lost my mom.
And my world turned dark. I cried until there were no more tears, and then I cried tearless sobs. And then my beautiful little grandmother went to be with my mom. And no amount of begging and pleading could right what was so wrong. Begging and pleading had always been so effective in my younger years, but not so much in this case.
Next, my husband’s new job fell victim to the economy and we fell off the fiscal cliff long before many knew it even existed. And it was even darker at the bottom of that cliff than I could have imagined.
It was then that I started to notice things, things that I took for granted before. Much like Christmas lights in the daylight. You are aware they are there, but it is impossible to appreciate how truly beautiful they are, without the darkness surrounding them.
I noticed how desperately my husband adores me and the kids. I noticed how my boys make me laugh every day, and not just a giggle here, a giggle there, but sidesplitting, fall to the floor bouts of laughter. I noticed how amazing my brothers are and I noticed how strong my Daddy is, even when he doesn’t see it himself, which I think is part of his strength. I noticed how blessed I am to have the friends I have and I realized with a new understanding of just how faithful God is to me in every little thing.
And in the darkness that my world had become, tiny little beams of light began to shine bright. Don’t get me wrong. Those lights were always there, but they were lost in the brightness of everything else. Things that would barely catch my attention before, now catch me off guard and make my heart swell with joy. And I now know that I would rather have great joy over little things, than have little joy over great things.
I used to think I was God’s favorite… everything went my way. Then my world fell apart. And now I know that I’m a favorite child because He allowed me to see things in a new light. He made a way for me to feel His love and experience His faithfulness in a way I never have before. And if life is measured by happiness instead of things, I’m terrifically rich, just like good ol’ George Bailey.
Even while we wait patiently for my husband to find a job, we are blessed with miracle after miracle that keeps the bills paid. Beautiful white lights shine.
Even though we miss Mom more than words can say, we find comfort in each other and continue to grow closer than we have ever been. Crimson lights beam.
And this Christmas might be light on gifts but it will be heavy on memories.. like dancing in the kitchen while we make cookies; like singing a Christmas carol for a group of people who are experiencing their own darkness… and getting stuck in an elevator while doing it; like putting up a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree this year because that just seemed so appropriate. Indigo blue radiates through the dark.
All the colors.. green and purple and yellow and pink… a rainbow of dancing hues that seem to shine brighter the darker it gets.
And so I focus on the light, and never the darkness. And one day, when one of my loved ones find themselves in the dark, I pray that I can be a light to them as so many are to me right now.
It only takes a tiny light to pierce the darkness but there can never be enough darkness to snuff out the light.
Merry Christmas! And may your New Year be filled with a glow of a million little lights you never noticed before!