It’s Christmastime and as soon as it was socially acceptable and I had time, my Christmas tree went up. I have this ten-year-old artificial Christmas tree that requires a lot of assembly. Fluff the branches, insert branch in the correct row from bottom to top, one at a time. My older boys, Ben and Deven, are great helpers with this task. After the branches are on, I put on the topper and then we hang the lights. I also like added in wide ribbon. The next part is everyone’s favorite: hanging the ornaments. We all love looking at ornaments from when Mommy and Daddy were little, and when Ben and Deven were small. We have a large collection of ornaments that have been thoughtfully chosen and gifted to us by grandparents and friends over the years. When the tree is complete, we all sit back and just look at it.
Jabez, at two and a half, has admired that tree every day since it was put up. Every morning when he comes down for breakfast he says, “Wow, Oh Wow, look at that tree!” He and his sidekick, Lydia who is one and a half, love to take ornaments off the tree, you know, to admire more closely. (Or to throw across the room or throw down the slide).
The morning after the tree was up, I was in tidying up after breakfast and the babies (as they are affectionately called when referencing both of them at our house) were playing quietly. Yeah, that should have been my first clue: “quietly”. Anyway, John comes in for breakfast and peeks in on the babies and says, “they knocked down the Christmas tree” with a half-smirk on his face. Now, my husband is a natural born teaser and for some reason loves to tease me. (He says it’s because it’s so easy to get my riled up, but I have no idea what he’s talking about). So, I’m like “NO,…you’re kidding!”
“See for yourself”, as he gestures into the living room.
As I peek around the doorway of the dining room into our living room, there it is a, six and a half foot, fully decorated, Christmas tree on the floor. Before I could say anything, Jabez says, “Uh Oh, tree on the floor!” And Lydia is wide eyed with an ornament in her hand looking way too cute and sheepish. Behind my own wide eyes and half-smirk, I say “No! No!” to the babies, and John and I work together to stand it back up and hang ornaments and straighten lights.
I wish I could say that was the first and only time the tree ended up on the floor. It happened three times. I was at my wits end. I couldn’t keep the babies away from the tree! At the suggestion of a good friend, I anchored the tree to a screw in a stud on the wall using fishing line. When doing this, I also knocked over the Christmas tree. When that happened, I realized that the tree had been standing on uneven subflooring all along.
Years ago, our home had a fireplace that was stolen, and the wall and flooring had to be filled in. However, the area where the floor was laid has a bit of a lip on it. We laid carpet in that room when we bought the house, so it’s not noticeable. But the Christmas tree is standing half on that lip (because it’s centered on that wall). I feel so bad for blaming the babies when in reality it wasn’t them being maniacal toddlers (this time), they were just being naturally curious and the unstable tree kept crashing down around them.
So often, we assemble our lives into these beautiful displays, but as soon as something comes our way we crash.
Perhaps you get into a fight with your spouse or you get sick. There is more month left at the end of your money. Maybe a parent disappointed you or a friend betrayed you. Maybe you didn’t get a job or position you were hoping for, or lost a job. Maybe you didn’t get your way in a situation or the driver in the other car cut you off and then slowed way down.
And then CRASH! We fall apart. We blame other people, we blame God, we lose it. You’re a hot mess, like my Christmas tree after being knocked down three times. Believe it or not, Scripture talks about having our feet on steady ground in Psalms 40:2, “he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand”.
Before I ever hung a single strand of lights or inserted a single branch, I should have made sure that the tree was on steady ground. This applies to our lives: before we do anything, we need to make sure that we are standing on the Rock and on steady ground. A sure sign that things are not as they seem under the nicely laid carpet and sparkly Christmas tree, is that it crashes down every time something knocks it for a loop. Same for your life: a sure sign that things are not as they seem under the nicely groomed surface and sparkly image you have created is that you fall apart whenever something knocks you for a loop. Deep down you may be truly struggling with anxiety and depression, have made some small compromises in your life, or maybe there is a sin issue that you need to repent of. “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is greater than I” Psalms 61:2. I ask that you explore your heart and your life and ask the Lord to show you areas where you are unsteady and pray that he will set your feet on steady ground.