Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lessons from my Christmas Garland

New garland is so lovely whether fresh off the tree or fresh out of the package. It looks so beautiful gracing the banisters, mantels, and doorways of homes during the Christmas season. We lavish it with ribbon and entwine it with sparkling lights, and for the festive season of December, the twinkling decorations entertain our awaiting eyes.
Then when the holiday season is passed, the garland is either tossed in the fire or stored away until next year. This is when the garland can best begin sharing her lessons with us.
Each year I decorate our home with the kind of garland that can be stored away each year and reused year after year. This is for purposes of thriftiness, to save a few dollars and also to allow the trees to keep their life and limbs. This year as I retrieved the garland from its large green Tupperware nest, and carefully placed it on the mantel and stairwell, Mrs. Garland has some personal revelations for me that I’ll now share with you. She is tired and in some ways, she’s falling apart, but she will do all she can to extend her grassy wires and hold the ribbons and lights once again this year.  As I tied her securely to the stairway railings, her plastic green foliage shed as if she were a cat in the springtime. I remained focused on my task, tying the limbs, twirling the ribbons, and twisting in the lights. Knowing that after the trimmings were complete, I would diligently clean up the fallen greenery. It was then that the lesson came to me.

We are so much like Mrs. Garland aren’t we? We do our best to accomplish what is asked of us, to hold everything in place, and shine brightly for those who pass by us. But we, personally, deep in our gut, we know so often we’re falling apart and we need to be cleaned up, freshened up, restored.
Mrs. Garland can do nothing about her aging, and neither can we, but this lesson is not about the aging part of our year-to-year activities. The lesson is more about our year-to-year baggage, our heartaches, the things that have happened to us as we waited for the next season of decoration, the tremblings in our soul that have left us unable to hold on to all our pretty foliage. We hope sincerely others around us will only notice the twirling ribbons and the shiny lights entwined in our existing foliage. We hope they will not pause long enough to look down, at the ground around us, and see the many scattered pieces that lay shattered and fallen. Just like Mrs. Garland, we weakly hold up our distracting decorations, hoping someone will come along quickly and clean up what has fallen off.
Mrs. Garland has no hope, no options, after all --- she is simply a man-made decoration with a limited warranty at best.
But we, people with souls and hearts and aging bodies, are not man-made (although some choose to add on man-made parts). We are not meant to be decorations and our warranty is not limited. Yet so often in the reality of life, we act as if we are sisters to Mrs. Garland.
Yes, we do age, and scripture says our days are numbered from the first to the last, but we were not created to decorate and amuse. We were created with an eternal purpose in mind. Our trembling “limbs” might become tired and weak, after all, life can be so very hard on us. But we have a Savior eagerly waiting to “make all things new”.
When life deals a blow that makes us tremble or ache or even moan in pain, we may drop some of our pieces, we may begin to fall apart. We may even wonder if we can continue to hold all the trimmings and tinsel that decorates our world. But God is there. He may or may not take away or change the circumstance, but He will use each and every detail to enhance the beauty of our lives. He and only He can gather up the painful pieces and re-graft them into our lives, making our branches fuller and more complete than they were in our initial, brand new state. Only God can bring beauty from the ashes and shine His light into our dark spaces. The twinkling lights we fill our “branches” with will undoubtedly have holes and gaps of unlit darkness, but God can and will fill those places with His Light, if we allow Him to tend us and remake us.
All too often, we think we are the only ones who can manage our lives and decorate our limbs. We worry over what has fallen off, but we can’t seem to “fix it”. So we focus on what we can hold, all the time lamenting deep inside over the parts that fell and shattered.
Our God is a good, good God. He stands at the door and knocks, hoping we will ask Him to come in. Come in and adjust the decorations He has blessed us with, clean up what has been messed up, and fill up the dark places with His Light.

Mrs. Garland will see my vacuum cleaner suck up and throw away the pieces she could no longer manage to hold.
Not so with our Lord. All we have to do, is open the door to Him, and surrender the decorating to His most able hands.

Revelations 21:5 – …”I am making everything new.”

©2010 Donna Taylor/Reaching for the Robe


  1. My own thoughts as I read your post...although I see myself as the old, tired garland affected by time, age, and broken-ness, I remember that God does not. He sees through those things, not as a permanent part of my real self, but straight through to the self He intended for me, the shiny bright new garland. His grace and forgiveness allow me to go forward in life knowing I can live it based on how he made me, not based on what I have experienced in the past. Grace surely is amazing and keeps me going as I get older! I look forward to your next post :)

  2. Donna, Thank you. This is beautiful. I always enjoy reading your writing.
    Love, Penny

  3. You are truly annointed to write! Your analogy is so beautiful and so describes my life:) Thank you so much for expressing in words nourishment for our souls! I love you ~ Joy