Surrounded by Beauty

What do you see when you think of beauty?

Close your eyes and picture the most beautiful sight you can imagine. Is it a sunset? The smile of a loved one? A pristine snow-covered path in the woods? An icicle gleaming with the colors of the world around it? The pure, cerulean blue sea meeting porcelain sands on a tropical island? The rugged cliffs on a mountain cloaked in evergreens? A sea of red and black in a quad Script Ohio at Ohio Stadium (The ‘Shoe)?

There is beauty all around us. We just have to take the time to notice it. During our busy days. When we are exhausted. While we feel less than stellar. The beauty is still there.

While we define what we find most beautiful, there is no right or wrong. In fact, one can argue that everything is beautiful in its own right.

Yet I wonder: how many of you thought about the reflection in the mirror? That face that stares back at you is filled with beauty as well, but I’d wager that not one of you listed yourself as a source of beauty. Not one of you even thought about it.

For years, I refused to really look into a mirror. I checked to make sure I didn’t look overly frightening, but never really paid attention. A few years ago, I finally looked. I really saw my reflection.

There between the gray hairs and wrinkles (and random obnoxious course black hairs that seem to grow 18 inches overnight) was a woman I hadn’t considered much. There was joy in those eyes. There was a genuine smile. There was a sassy haircut, usually covered by a ball cap.

The woman gazing back at me had aged and grown an extra chin (or several) since the last time I had truly seen her, but it dawned on me that she also had a story to tell. Those lines and wrinkles were from many things, some happiness and laughter, some disappointment and sadness. They spoke of a life that may not have been all I had desired, but was still blessed.

My friend, this world’s beauty includes us! Our stories make us even more beautiful. The survivors of abuse, neglect, disappointment, sadness, loss, gain, and ridicule are to be celebrated! We have survived and used the lessons we have learned to grow and help others.

I think we are like that icicle I mentioned earlier. On a clear, sunny, cold winter’s day, that icicle sparkles and displays only the colors of what is close to – or inside of – it. Such is the case with us. Our beauty sparkles and reflects what we hold close to – or have inside of – our hearts.

By pulling close to others and God, we radiate unadulterated beauty that shines clearly through us to reach others. That beauty draws the attention of others, but not in a romantic sort of way. This beauty is so much deeper and shines like a beacon for others who need to see it.

Hanging from a high point, that icicle looks flawless, smooth and free from imperfection. However, when you look closely, you will see bumps, pits, and other flaws. Yet you’ve already seen the beauty! Does it become ugly after you look closely? No. At least not for me. I find the beauty becomes more evident because of the imperfections.

I think the same is true for us. Our stories and blemishes make us even more beautiful because that is how we reach people, which creates community. We are certainly all flawed, but our beauty is even more pronounced when we let go of the drive for perfection and appreciate the beauty within ourselves. We are each fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God.

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“For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well.”
Psalms 139:13‭-‬14 HCSB

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