In our home, we are shaking our tryptophan stupor off and decorating our way into December. As we are only 1/32 elf in our family, we tend to keep the decorations simple. Yet, every year, when everyone goes to town with their tinsel, tree-trimming and twinkle-light-hanging, my heart finds itself in the same wrestling place.
Because I am not on top of things, I find myself frantically searching for a decent picture of our family to try to rush order Christmas cards. By decent picture I mean we are all clothed and bodily present with at least one eye looking in the general direction of the camera.
Next, I look at my meager two containers of light strands that have fractions of working bulbs. This will do.
All joking aside, this is the time of year when we love to decorate our homes, filling them with all the smells and sights of the holiday season. While that is not my strong suit, I am well-acquainted with a similar tendency: to seek to decorate our hearts and our lives to match our cheerfully decorated homes.
An image painted by Frederick Buechner in his memoir Telling Secrets has been haunting me of late. Speaking of his aging mother’s tendency to remember only the high points of her life, he writes the following.
“The sad times she kept locked away never to be named, but the funny, happy times, the glamorous, romantic, young times, continued to be no less a part of her life than the furniture…She liked to paste gold stars on things or to antique things with gold paint – it was what she did with the past too of course – and lampshades, chairs, picture frames, tables, gleamed like treasure in the crazy little museum of her bedroom.”
While my house does feature any gold-painted furniture, I do notice in my own soul a scary tendency to want to make things appear shiny and together. I find my heart desiring to place gold stars on hard seasons or circumstances. I want to decorate my own heart.
However, more than a finely decorated, neat and tidy heart, God longs to have a deeply dependent heart. One that invites Him into the mess and the mayhem, one that cries out to Him for help and hope.
He doesn’t want me to plaster and decoupage my anxious heart and hectic home with gold stars; He wants something far more for me and my family. He longs that we admit our neediness of Him, our limitations and our deep hunger for far more than this world has to offer. As we present our hearts in humility and honesty before Him, He promises to shape in us a refined faith in Him, proved of more value than gold.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:6-7.
In the midst of beautiful decorations and manicured Christmas card pictures, I long to fight my tendency to decorate my heart. Rather, I pray that God would give me a heart that is fully dependent upon.