The Empty Tree

We just put up our Christmas tree. The light is fading as I sit here and stare at it. Today has been hard. I don’t have the energy to start decorating. The tree stands silently in the dark, empty, waiting for what comes next….

I know so many of us are walking through difficult times. Adversity can make or break us. Think about that for a few minutes.

I have been reading a lot about and in the twelve steps of AA recently. Not because I am struggling, but so that I can better understand what those around me are working through.

Every recovery story includes pain. No one would make the choice to change without adversity. What would be the point? Step seven- We humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings- can only be meaningful after we have reached the point of no return.

The point when we realize we are not enough.

This is humility. The idea that we are not enough on our own, we have faults and shortcomings that require God to help us. This is the price we pay in adversity. It is also the strength we find!

“ This admission price had purchased more than we expected. It brought a measure of humility, which we soon discovered to be a healer of pain. We began to fear pain less, and desire humility more than ever.” (P.75, AA Big Book)

My empty tree stands as a representation of adversity. Suffering in silence, we quietly embrace misery and pain. We become isolated from our own doing. Loneliness creeps in, and faulty coping skills wait to take over. We stand in our own strength, much like my tree. Sickness, fear, finances, maybe all three, the nature of adversity is to consume. If we let it.

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)”

I never quite understood why this verse said – after you have suffered a little while. Now I think I do. Sometimes we need to learn humility. We need to remember that we are not enough- not without God.

The strength we can find through adversity comes as we begin to rely on God to work in and through us. My tree may be empty and dark, but it is standing firm, held securely by a base that it cannot escape. We are held firmly by our base, our Savior, with a strength we can never escape from. He is enough. He is more than enough.

How do we walk this out? My tree is not meant to stay dark and empty. Tomorrow it will be decked out in beautiful lights and ribbon. It will be magnificent. We, likewise, are not meant to suffer alone, we are not meant to remain in that dark hole. The only way out is together. We must embrace the truth of our shortcomings and grab hold to God. We need to stand side by side with others who are walking difficult roads. This is the beauty of support groups. We need each other. When we place God at the center of our being, and surround ourselves with the strength of others- adversity becomes an asset. It becomes a journey where we earn the treasure of humility.

Are you face to face with a mountain you can’t climb? Are you dealing with sickness or depression? What is the adversity you are walking into? Remember 1 Peter 5:10- He will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

If- you learn this truth-

You are not enough.

But He is! Join me in changing our empty tree into a masterpiece!

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