Last week, I had a very bad week. I got some bad news and my heart crumbled inside of me. My stomach sank and I began to feel sick and weak. Anxiety rose and made me dizzy.
To clear my head, I went for a drive. I looked at the Christmas lights in our neighborhood. I drove slowly on the dark, empty suburban roads as I peaked inside each house (...that sounded creepy...). I could see Christmas trees, beautifully adorned and lit up in the dim houses, while I could see people relaxing quietly by the TV, with the fireplace roaring.
Even the houses where it didn't look like anyone was home, there were at least candles in the windows, lit-up wreaths on the doors, inflatables on the front lawn. Almost every house had lights and decorations. There was light on the normally dark streets.
And it made my heart feel joy. Mainly because I love Christmas lights. But also the fact that everyone on this street, in this neighborhood, in this city decorated their houses. We were all in this together.
I wondered why we didn't decorate like this all the time. Why don't we always have our houses lit up (besides the impending electric bill)? Where is the magic in February, March, July, September? Why don't we always have decorations outside for the world to see? There's something about Christmas that's so old-fashioned, so classic. It makes the world feel like time is standing still.
It slows us down. It makes us do all this work- pulling out the Christmas decorations, getting the ladder for the lights, cutting down the tree- just so we can CELEBRATE. Just so we can have something beautiful to look at. We don't do that the rest of the year.
It makes us look forward to preparing a meal that takes hours to make just so we can all sit around the table with family- just so we can CELEBRATE. Just so we can laugh and find comfort in our loved ones. We don't do that the rest of the year.
It makes us take the time out of our busy weekends to ice skate, to go to tree lightings, to see holiday shows, to take advantage of the plethora of events going on- just so we can CELEBRATE. Just so we can have fun. We don't do that the rest of the year.
It makes us think hard and make lists about what other people will enjoy. We put our money where our mouth is and our creativity to hard work as we try to find the perfect present for the people in our lives- just so we can CELEBRATE. Just so we can make someone else's life a little brighter. We don't do that the rest of the year.
As I drove, admiring the lights through the kaleidoscope my tears had made in my eyes, I slowed my racing thoughts down. And in that moment, Christmas lights became a little more than a decoration to me.
It became hope.
The streets weren't dark like they are in February, March, July or September. They are brightly lit. With white and multi-colored lights on top the roofs, around the wreaths, throughout the front yard. Ordinary homes become magical gingerbread houses when they're outlined with those bright white lights. In the dark of the night, there was a light and for some reason, it made me feel less alone.
That's what Christmas is about, right? The darkness and pain and really bad news that makes you sick to your stomach doesn't hold any power any more because Jesus became a light for us.
Christmas lights remind me of the hope Jesus brings to us. They remind me that the bad things in this world don't mean anything compared to Him.
I could use some hope. Couldn't you? Let the light remind you that you aren't alone this season.