Christmas Lights

(Or, “How I Found Perspective Because My Son Really Had to Pee”)

My son really had to pee.

We’d been driving for an hour through a display of brilliant Christmas lights in a neighborhood miles from our home. The Christmas music was turned up, the windows were rolled down, the atmosphere was festive… and my 7-year-old had had enough.

I’ll be honest, I was a little annoyed, not that he had to use the bathroom and that traffic was slow –God knows we can all relate to that– but that he was making such a big deal about it! I mean, come on, kid, I get it. One too many juice pouches can take its toll on any of us, but you don’t need to broadcast it every 12 seconds.

Then, somewhere between the festive music and the fidgety moans, something dawned on me that changed my attitude completely.

As we were making our way out of the menagerie of cars and carols, I noticed a detail about the Christmas lights that I’d never thought of before… the lights looked more beautiful because of the darkness between them. It was the blackness that made the lights seem brighter, the space that made them sparkle.

There was goodness in the gaps.

In that moment, I realized something. Just like there were gaps between the beauty of the Christmas lights and the blackness of the night, there were gaps between the kind of family moments I wanted that evening and the kind of moments I got.

But there’s goodness in the gaps.

I would have preferred for my son to have been less vocal about his discomfort, but that same little voice also filled our car with laughter that night. I would have preferred for us to not have to end the night before we’d seen every house, but that made the time we did have seem all the more special for its brevity.

There’s goodness in the gaps.

Maybe that’s what the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes meant when he commented on the ebbs and flows of life: [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11a) Maybe he knew something about the gaps between what we want and what we get. Maybe he knew that sometimes the moments we’d gladly wish away actually sweeten the ones we’d like to savor forever.

Have you experienced any “gaps” this season?

Maybe family gatherings brought more complication than celebration this year. Maybe gifts weren’t given or received the way you would have wished. Maybe a certain person went away, or a certain problem came around.

I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been difficult, or that I understand your situation. I can’t promise that solutions will be quick to appear or easy to apply. I learned something, though, on that noise-filled night, in between the creative displays of lights and the clamoring of the son I love.

I found out that if you’re willing to look hard enough and trust God long enough, you’ll discover for yourself:

There’s goodness in the gaps.

–Pastor Phillip

P.S. We made it to a restroom… just in time.