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I saw this quote today:


It reminded me of this excerpt from my #balancebook. I read it again, and thought about gutting a bit more…the easier path is obviously to just cover up the mess, but gutting it out deep is the only way to really heal it…I explore gutting a lot more in my forthcoming book #ifweonlyknew, but here’s the snippet from book 1 about a lesson from our tree lights:

I love the whole process of putting up our Christmas tree—pulling out the ornaments we’ve collected over the years, watching the kids jumping around us, fighting over who gets to hang the decorations and where things should go. Putting up the tree itself takes about ten minutes. There are three parts that snap together, and the white lights are pre-strung.

So that’s the simple part—usually.

A couple years ago, our basement flooded, and when we put the tree together the following Christmas, we realized none of the lights worked. Michael tried everything, but there was no saving the lights. The wiring was all rotted from the inside. Back in the basement, my hubby found a set of colored lights and did a quick wrap-around to see if we liked them.

Of course, LuLu and the Little Man were all in favor of colored lights! Lu said, “Mommy, those lights are WAAAAAYYYYY better than the other ones we had last year!” The lights did have a magic to them—they were a little larger and had a nice glow.

So, the hubby said, “What do we do? Do I just string them over the top? The old lights are strung between every branch.”

My little smile made my husband cringe — he knew this quick fix wasn’t the answer. Stringing the bright, hopeful colored lights over the broken ones didn’t sit well with me. We needed to do a full gutting – take the tree apart, untangle and remove the old lights, then replace them with new ones.

Michael didn’t love this idea. He even offered to run to Home Depot for another tree. But we both knew that wasn’t the answer, as this tree was barely four years old.

So, branch by knotted branch, we carefully removed every single light.

Lu and the Little Man cheered us on. They couldn’t wait to hang the ornaments. The anticipation was priceless. Still, it was definitely an exercise in patience. I silently repeated a word that helps me in situations like this: aretae, which means “patience is a virtue.”

When my husband would breathe an extra-loud huff, I reminded him how beautiful the tree would look when we finished. As we worked, I pondered the importance of ‘gutting’, and thought about the message that the tree was giving us: a message of authenticity, not ‘covering up’ what’s really underneath, but working on it from the core to create real change. With hard work, patience, and ultimately, after almost four hours spent removing the lights, appreciation, we re-learned this lesson together as a family.

The tree decorating lasted throughout the day. When we finished, we took a step back in awe of the beautiful tree that had almost made us rip our hair out. Michael and I agreed it was so worth it.