Written By Lisa Jong, China, originally in Simplified Chinese
This year, my husband and I bought a real Christmas tree. It was our first; I was ecstatic.
You see, when I was young in China, I could only get my hands on plastic trees. I recall buying a small plastic tree that delighted me no end. Years later, my husband and I spent Christmas at the home of an American friend who had a big artificial tree, and we swooned over it. So you can imagine how excited we were to get a real tree this year. Finally, we had our very own, real-life Christmas tree! I couldn’t help but feel proud.
My husband carried the tree back to our apartment, and with much difficulty, we carefully maneuvered it into the perfect position beside the window, adjusted its needles, and swept up the fallen branches. The trunk seemed a little off-center, but we ignored that. The next day, we began decorating it with two friends. When we finished and turned off our living room lights, the moment felt surreal. The Christmas tree lights flickered in the darkness, evoking a sense of anticipation. It felt like there was something sweet in the air this Christmas.
Like starry-eyed children, the four of us stayed around the Christmas tree all evening. After our friends left, my husband and I prepared to go to bed. But just as we were about to fall asleep, we heard a loud thud from the living room.
Our Christmas tree had fallen over! And because it was a real tree, the mess it created was massive. Water from the stand had spilled all over the floor, mixed with mud from the roots of the tree—the beautiful moment had given way to a disaster.
Though it was already late, my husband and I had no choice but to move the tree to another position, tie it down to keep it straight, add water, and adjust the base. And it was only because the tree fell over that we found that there was more mud on one side. It was a quick lesson on how to take better care of the tree and strengthen it.
Isn’t life just like a Christmas tree? Sometimes, when all seems to be going well, we are hit by failure and tragedy, and fall over. In such times, we might ask God, “Why me? Why now? Why didn’t You protect me?”
I am very glad that we did not give up on our Christmas tree, and spent time trying to figure out how to get it back up. I’d dare say it is now sturdier than before! Perhaps God wants us to do the same. He allows us to fail and to fall, so that we will have to examine what’s wrong with our lives. It is only when we find out our weak spots, that we can learn how to grow stronger.
While my Christmas tree fell over, I learnt a valuable lesson in life. Is your life not going as planned? Work with God to make it stronger together!