I think God’s idea of “beautiful” is a lot more varied than mine.
When I look at my life, when I look at what I’ve walked through and who I am today, I realize it will truly take nothing less than an act of God to make my life something beautiful. To redeem what has been lost, to write a happy ending. I cannot do it on my own.
And do I believe that God makes all things beautiful and good? Yes, I do. I just don’t know if His definition of beautiful and mine are the same.
It’s hard, humbling and scary, to tell God that whatever His will is for my life, that is what I want more than anything. But it’s true. That, more than anything, is what I want.
I say that with the same emotion arising within me that I’d feel if I had to swallow an excessively large pill: it’s what I need and what I ultimately want, but I’m scared I’ll choke. I’m scared.
It’s scary to accept that maybe His will for my life isn’t what I would’ve chosen for myself. But He knows what I need better than I do, right?
I just don’t know how you stop grieving the things that are past. The things that are lost and gone. The dreams that could just as easily vanish.
When everything feels like smoke and the only thing you have to hold on to is the Lord and you cannot physically hug Him, what do you do? I know what I do. I panic. But when I slow my breathing and get enough clarity of mind to realize panic isn’t a good coping mechanism, I hug my Bible. I sit in the shower and tilt my head up towards the shower head and close my eyes and pray.
But none of that is a substitute for Him in the flesh, Him with His kind eyes and tender smile and arms stretched wide for hugging. None of that is Him. And it hurts.
But maybe that’s okay. It has to be okay, I suppose. As my girl Glennon says, maybe it’s hard just because it’s hard, and not because I’m doing something wrong. Maybe the times where everything is smoke and nothing is tangible and I need more of God than what I can reasonably expect, maybe that’s not a bad place to be.
God doesn’t lead us to places that are bad for us after all, right? He doesn’t take us through things that are intended to permanently cripple and destroy and break us, because He is GOOD, ALL. THE. TIME., yes? And He says that He can make all things beautiful, doesn’t He? Although, there’s that word again. Beautiful.
And yet, I know nothing is wasted in His hands. He is the Great Redeemer. He can use this time and my tears and pain, my broken dreams and shattered hopes. I have to believe that. I have to believe that even when He catches my tears and shares in my grief with me, He is smiling a kind, tender, loving smile because He knows what is to come, and yes, right now hurts, but it won’t forever.
When I look at my life, when I consider the tears I’ve cried and prayers I’ve prayed of, “Lord, it’s too hard! I cannot do it! I need love and a life that is beautiful (and any other number of things)!” I wonder what myself at seventeen or twenty two or twenty five would’ve thought if she knew that this is what my life would look like today. I wonder if she would’ve been completely disheartened to know that there was no quick fix, no easy answer to my prayer on the way.
But then I also consider how many times God has given me moments of beauty, times when I’ve sensed Him near and smiled from a place deep down in my soul and felt like this life was a gift. I look at the things in my life today that are undeniably from Him because they are GOOD. And not everything is good, in fact most things feel pretty not good, but that doesn’t discount the fact that He’s giving me enough good to help me get by. Moments of good. The big picture? That’s hard. But cuddling my cats or drinking a green tea latte or getting an “I love you” text from someone who I love right back? Those are the moments when I know Jesus is saying, “I’ve heard your prayers. You are not alone. I have a plan, and I will sustain you.”
I also wonder what I’ve prayed more often over the years- for happiness, or to know and trust and love the Lord more. Something in me suspects it has been the latter. In which case, all of what I’m feeling and walking through today might just be the answer to that prayer. God takes my prayers seriously, after all, and when I ask Him to help me know and love Him more, there’s no quick fix. We don’t just go to bed one night with that prayer on our lips and then wake up the next morning with a new-found faith and love for Him burning in our hearts. It’s not that easy. And if it was that easy, it wouldn’t be real. Anything of depth and value tends to take time, and often tears. (See Romans 5:3-5, 1 Peter 5:10, James 1:2-4, Hebrews 12:11, 2 Corinthians 4:17…)
I don’t have a lot to offer right now. I don’t have a lot of optimism or hope or joy or laughter, but what I do have is the knowledge that my God is good. He is so, so good.
Lord, help me see beauty where You see beauty.