Olivia Dear Thames
The Light of Advent
I love Christmas.
I love the decorations, Mom's Christmas cookies, Christmas Eve services, and my Yuletide JAMS Spotify playlist. I love my Christmas pajamas, my disco ball ornament that I picked out at age 4, George Winston's December album, the stockings, and the way Dad videos us each year as we walk downstairs to see what Santa brought. I really love Christmas.
But sometimes, I think I miss the point.
This was definitely the case last night. The theme was discontentment, and I was weaving it into my thoughts and actions. While comfortably sitting on my couch, I thought of the things I miss: my friends, my family, my fiancé, my free schedule, the Chi O bacon, etc. I was drowning in a sea of self-pity, centering my thoughts on what was missing in my life. Continuing the theme, I looked over to my Christmas tree and noticed its issues. I forgot to decorate the bottom of the tree, the back of the tree, and some midsections as well. There's no velvet tree skirt, no tinsel, and no taffeta ribbon. Most of the ornaments are actually ones I picked out in middle school, so it's a mix of glitter and pink and green. Oh, and there aren't even presents under the tree, because I lack wrapping paper and also because I need my roommate Catherine to wrap my gifts, as this task makes me want to break out in hives.
As I sat there, I found that this tree actually held a redeeming quality: the lights. A pre-lit tree, this was one thing I couldn't mess up. Its lights shine through the window and nod to me as I pull into the driveway. Its lights overshadow the mismatched ornaments and areas lacking decor. When the room's lights are off, this tree's lights illuminate the living room. The lights draw me in. Even now, I can't stop looking at this bright yet artificial, sparkling yet disoriented, glittering yet only 6-feet high tree. Light is what makes this Christmas tree what it is.
And the light is what makes Advent the season it is. There's no coincidence that this enlightenment occurred on the first day of Advent. It's supposed to be a season of joy. A season of gratitude, expectation of the Second Coming, and hope. A time in which the Light of the World draws us in.
If we let our circumstances block our vision, we will miss this. We'll look at our Christmas tree and regret the gaudy ornaments and also our recent mistakes. We'll look under the tree and regret not putting enough money into savings. We'll look at the areas where there are no ornaments and see personal heartache, loneliness, and dreams that have failed. We'll see the lack of tinsel and ribbon and think about the things that we're lacking: relationships, fulfillment, and energy.
But if we take a step back, we'll see the light that is this season's redeeming quality. Jesus really is the light at the end of the tunnel. He's the greatest gift. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing! Born of a manger, the Savior brought hope to all of the earth. He brought light. A swaddled beacon filled with redemption.
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows
me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” -John 8:12
It's the hope of this season that brings this light. It is knowing that there are eternal better days ahead. The biggest attraction is that there will be a day more joyful than Christmas morning. There will be a place happier than the North Pole. There will be no mourning, no insecurities, no looking at the tree and seeing what is lacking. One day, there will be ultimate contentment. And that is the light that overshadows everything else.
So this Advent season, I challenge you to focus. See the Light. Recognize Jesus. Ignore the enemy distracting you from Christ's goodness, the enemy that wants you to focus on the things missing from your tree. Center your thoughts on the joy that lies ahead.
Seek the brightest light, and you will find it.
To contact Olivia, email email@example.com.