Updated: Mar 22, 2019
What if the ugliness was for a reason and only for a season?
The beautiful ugly.
The ugly beautiful.
Whichever way it's phrased, do you know what I'm referring to?
The ugliness in our lives which becomes the breeding ground for something beautiful to grow.
It's not hard to find people who will say it's in the darkest and lowest times of their lives they have experienced the most growth, change, and strength.
I am one of those people.
It does us no good to try and avoid ugliness - sadness, grief, betrayal, abandonment, suffering, pain. We have little to no control over the ugliness we'll encounter. We all experience it at different levels and at different times.
We do have control over our perspective.
How do we perceive the ugliness?
If it's only ugliness, incapable of becoming something beautiful, then we can become bitter and resentful. It can sink us into a place of self-pity asking, "Why me?" It can drive us to the blame-game, looking for another person or God to deflect our anger and hatefulness. If the ugliness is only ugliness, we could all find ourselves here.
But, what if the ugliness is a temporary affliction leading to the most beautiful of outcomes?
If we knew the ugliness was for a reason and only for a season, would we see our troubles and afflictions in a different way?
In the midst of difficult times, I now remind myself as often as I need to, "This too shall pass." It's somewhat trite, but as I've journeyed through seasons of struggle, I've come to know it as truth. When we're in the midst of the ugliness, it doesn't seem possible. There were times I was buried by the ugliness, and it was all I could see. I remember crying out to God, "Am I ever going to feel joy again?" The pain and hurt seemed unbearable. The numbness seemed almost worse.
But I did experience joy again ... and again ... and again. And sorrow again ... and again ... and again.
I love how Henri Nouwen explains it. He says, "We need to remind each other that the cup of sorrow is also the cup of joy, that precisely what causes us sadness can become the fertile ground for gladness."
Have you noticed in your own life how joy and sorrow go hand in hand?
Grieving over the loss of a loved one and rejoicing over a new life entering the world. Taking part in a joyful celebration while feeling sadness over the someone who isn't sitting at the table.
While I thought of ways joy and sorrow can be intertwined, I realized Christ is the ultimate example.
On a Friday, Christ was beaten, jeered, betrayed, crucified on a cross, and buried in a tomb. Sorrow. Ugliness. On the following Sunday, Christ was not in the tomb. He had risen to new life! Joy. Unspeakable joy! Beauty.
And that is what we share in. 1 Peter 4:12-13 tells us, "Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad—for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world."
Be very glad?
Not the easiest words to accept when we're in the fiery trials. But that's the moment we choose our perspective.
If we can look beyond the flames to see the glory to be revealed, we can be very glad and rejoice in the trials that make us partners with Christ.
Jesus also gave us a wonderful assurance in John 16:33, "Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world."
But, what if we live our entire lives here on earth never seeing beauty from ugliness?
I don't mean out of a lack of us choosing to change our perspective. I mean, what if what ails you never leaves you? What if you remain single? Or childless? Is the glory of what awaits us beyond this world enough? Can we remind each other that no matter what happens on this earth there is a beauty beyond description waiting for us in eternity when we share in life and suffering with Christ?
I pray to be a person who encourages others in this truth. I'm so grateful and praise God for all the ways He has turned my mourning into dancing. Sorrow into joy. Ugliness into beauty.
But, mostly, I praise Him for teaching me how to see life as a lovely dance between joy and sorrow and to look beyond the ugliness and seek the beauty with all my heart.
Lord, I know there may be people reading this who are hurting so badly that Your words do not bring comfort or encouragement. Ugliness is rearing its big head and they can't see any beauty. Ugliness is too strong they can't even entertain the thought of beauty. I've been there, Father. You know I have because You were there with me. I may not know everyone's circumstances, but You do. I pray for new eyes to see. I pray for minds and hearts to choose a different perspective - Your perspective. I continue to pray that for myself as well. God, You are so beautiful. You are the most beautiful. Thank you for the beautiful ugly. May none of us lose heart. In Jesus' name, amen.