They don't shed and make a mess.
They don't have to be watered.
They won't potentially catch the house on fire.
They don't require me to take allergy medication.
But, most importantly, they always look perfect.
My mother was an emotional, artsy, free-spirit and remained unmoved by my logical reasoning. My dad just didn't like fake trees.
So, off we would go in our winter layers to the tree farm or local tree lot in search of the perfect Christmas tree. My mother and I had very different definitions of perfect.
As soon as we arrived, I would jump out of the truck and begin my search for what I thought was the perfect tree. It needed to have long needles as to be less painful during decorating. It should be tall, but not too tall; full, but not too fat. Above all, it needed the quintessential Christmas tree shape. My mother used the phrase "cookie cutter" as an insult, but that's exactly what I wanted - the magazine cover model of Christmas trees. Not a branch out of place.
Before long, I would shout to the rest of the family that I had found it. This was the tree we had to have. My brother would run over and kick it to see if it was sturdy. My mother would rush over to see if it was, indeed, the ideal evergreen for which we searched. Dad just waited where he was. He knew what was coming.
Mom would take one look at it and say, "No, that's not it," and walk away.
WHAT?!? Are you kidding me? If this tree were super-sized, it would be worthy of Rockefeller Center. How could you say no to this tree?
But, she did.
I followed her so as to continue the interrogation as to why this was not to be THE tree. Every year, I got the same answer. "It has no character," she said.
Character was not a quality I thought necessary in a Christmas tree.
She would continue her inspection of every available tree and suddenly we would hear, from the furthest corner, "Oh, Rick! This is it. This is the PERFECT tree."
Friends, she had gone to the reject pile. Every single time. The tree she labeled perfect was perfect for one thing - the wood pile. Inevitably, it was the one with the flat side or the huge holes or the double top. It was the tree that was short and fat and looked nothing like a Christmas tree shaped cookie. As I pointed these things out, she refuted every rational reason why this tree was a loser.
The flat side won't matter if we put that against the wall.
The huge holes will be perfect for the big, heavy ornaments.
We'll just cut one of those top branches off. No one will notice that the angel is a little off center.
Of course, it's shaped like a Christmas tree. It IS a Christmas tree.
Not once did I ever win this discussion. We had a reject tree every single year.
And every single year, she was right.
We would unpack hundreds of ornaments, each one with a story of who had made it or the occasion for which it was given. We would pile all of our best memories on that perfectly imperfect tree and it was the most beautiful tree that ever had been.
I hate to break it to you, but we are that reject tree. Every single one of us.
We aren't the perfect shape. We are full of holes. We're not cut out for the things God has asked us to do.
But He looks at us and says, "That's the one. That's the perfect person for this job."
All those things that you think are holding you back - those are the things that He's going to use to help someone else. Those flaws that you feel make you unworthy and useless - those are the things that let His light shine through you. Everyone else may think you're destined for the wood pile. Hold your head up high, little tree. His definition of perfect is much different. Just wait and see how beautiful you're going to be when He's finished.