The other day, when I was packing up the Christmas decorations, I broke an ornament. It was one of the ones I bought when we were first married, at a place that is no longer in business. Let me be clear- this was not an expensive ornament, by any means. But it was old. And even though I always take care to cushion them in tissue and re-pack them in their original box, some accidents are inevitable. It is the way of life, and this was just a thing. But it still made me sad and it still made me think.
We take care to store some of our favorite decorations in "downstairs storage" (that's what I am calling the junk room, just so you know) so that they don't endure the extreme heat and cold of the attic. But for all of us the years take their toll.
When it was new, the ornament, I mean, it was shiny and strong and it had all its glitter and the hanger was clean and snug-- but it was new, so I really didn't think about it as I hung it up on the living room tree. I mainly just wanted it to hang there and look pretty. It was there to reflect the light from the tree and the other decorations in the room.
As the years wore on, some of the glitter wore off and the shiny-ness began to fade. It was still a lovely ornament, though. It had a purpose: to fill the empty spots on the tree and to add a little color.
It the later years, I began to look forward to putting it, and the others like it, on. I chose them first, and I used them near the new ones to give a contrast between the new and the old. The new ones were pretty, but the older ones were the anchors that made the tree something really special and that paid tribute to a life together that has now seen 30 Christmases.
When we are young, we are strong and energetic and...glittery. We make a nice appearance, but we haven't had the experience we need to really shine.
As the years pass, and we become externally fragile, we begin to grow so much stronger inside, down deep in our core. We become able now to serve our true purpose: to reflect Christ's Light and to fill the empty spots in this world that has so very many empty spots. We add much-needed color to the complexion of our families, our workplace, our community.
Our hope is that those new "ornaments" that come along behind us will value us and will look to our inner strength, even though we may look frail and delicate. We are stronger than you know-- stronger, indeed, than you are. You need us. You need to come alongside and allow us to be the anchor that fills and reflects and provides a contrast and perspective.
In my haste to clean, I tossed the ornament in the trash. Now I wish I had kept it. I wish I could look at it to remind myself that, even broken, especially broken, we all have worth.