I sat there and stared at the tree the whole time he was talking. As a whole it was gorgeous but when you looked from a certain angle, there was a spot that was dark and looked empty, and I couldn’t stand it. We had decorated the Christmas tree the day before and thought it looked perfect, until I saw this spot and couldn’t stop thinking about how changing one ornament would fix the whole thing. I waited until everyone’s attention was onto something else, and then I quickly ran over and switched the red snowflake for the gold ball. Whew! Much better.
You see, this pre-lit tree had been around for ages, and every year more and more lights decide they just won’t shine. So my husband wrapped a new string of lights around it, and he dispersed it quite well. In fact, we didn’t see this particular dark spot the whole time we were decorating it. We hung ornaments for at least an hour and never noticed it. But when the lights got low and we stepped away to look from a different perspective, the darkness was glaring.
With all the ornaments already in place, we wouldn’t be able to restring the lights, so I kept looking at the dark spot, knowing it needed something light. Yes, there was an ornament there filling the “hole” but it blended in too well and didn’t accentuate the lights around it, so from afar it still looked empty. A simple change to a gold ball was all that was needed to reflect the light to make that area brighter.
Ever notice when you’re decorating the tree (or working on anything detailed anything for that matter: a drawing, painting a wall, or arranging a room) how many times you have to take several steps back and look from a new angle. Ever have that shocking moment of “Ew, what was I thinking?” when you see it from afar? Sometimes, you have to start from scratch and often a simple switch will do. Maybe I’m too picky, but I tend to fixate on a bare spot or a jumbled spot – or maybe it’s two ornaments of the same color too close to each other.
Changing your perspective helps you to see things you wouldn’t see otherwise.
From afar you will see the whole picture, while close up you begin to see the details better. Which limb to hang the ornament on where it will rest into the perfect spot. Or a crack in an ornament that leads you to replace it or fix it. But from afar, those bare spots truly do stand out, don’t they?
The Christmas tree taught me a lot about marriage that day. It taught me how important perspective is. While getting close allows you to place the ornaments just so, sometimes when you step back you realize you need to change some of the ones you placed. Maybe taking some away, switching them for different colors, or adding some into bare spots.
Because of this, I’m encouraged to take a step back and evaluate my marriage. What areas are my husband and I too busy in? What areas are we lacking? Are we too fixated on one thing so that we can’t see a dark area? If I do see a dark spot, can I add light in? So this all leads me to ask of my marriage: how can we diversify, use and place the giftings we’ve each been given so that our marriage is beautiful from every angle?
Maybe our schedule is too filled with work and needs more fun. Maybe we are too enveloped in our phones and need to have conversations with each other instead. Is it possible I haven’t shown appreciation for all he does and there’s a dark spot that needs a gold ball? Or there’s a hurt that is still cracked and needs to be glued so it doesn’t shatter?
Friends, as silly as it sounds to say: marriage IS like a Christmas tree. Marriage can be inspiringly beautiful. It can remind us of the best in us. It can be reflective of who you are, and it can let God shine through it. But marriage also requires regular attention. Intentional attention. It needs daily maintenance for the small things, like a string of lights or a broken ornament. And it needs a look from another angle to evaluate every so often and ensure there are no dark spots. You might get the opinion of a trusted godly friend or counselor to see if it’s lopsided and about to fall.
Remember, just as no two Christmas trees are exactly alike, no two marriages are exactly alike. What worked for your friends may not work just the same for you. You have your own tree (that you’ve had for years or that you cut yourself fresh each year). You have your own lights (colorful or bright white). And your very own ornaments that fit you and only you.
You and your spouse have to build and decorate together, and you have to evaluate it together. Get close. Talk to each other. And always get a fresh look by stepping back and looking through love, and then you can work together to address the needs you see. Don’t just notice the dark spots and point them out, find some light to add in. Just like a glowing tree, I bet it’ll end up being its own kind of beautiful.