One morning last winter, I went for a run along a local, wooded trail. Autumn’s brilliance had come and gone, leaving behind stripped trees and steely skies. Not the prettiest time of year, nor my favorite for that reason. As I ran, my thoughts unwittingly drifted toward an unlovely gray to match my surroundings. They may have been doomed to stay there had I not rounded a bend and been confronted with color: a holly bush with vivid red berries and evergreen leaves twining up an otherwise colorless tree.
That splash of color stopped me mid-stride.
I stood rooted, my breath slowing and cold seeping into my stilled limbs, as I let my eyes run over the holly bush’s prettiness, made lovelier still by its very unexpectedness. And it dawned on me that this sight offered a picture for how I desire to live my life. Not letting myself lean toward gray, but instead in celebration of beauty — in defiance of bleak surroundings.
Our world is broken and will remain so until Jesus comes again. Every day, in every place, we encounter the world’s wounds: estrangement, disappointment, loneliness, injustice, poverty. The darkness is insidious and inescapable. Like the gray days of a Northwest winter.
But in the midst of it…beauty! And in beauty, God Himself. When we feast on beauty, we taste God’s goodness, asking nothing of Him but Himself, seeking neither help nor a solution (though of course He always welcomes our pleas for these). We allow ourselves to be simply satisfied with Him alone.
As believers in Jesus, the hope of heaven empowers us to live well in this broken world that is passing away. Beauty on earth provides peepholes into heaven. Celebrating beauty is one way to fix our eyes on Jesus. In doing so, we drive away darkness, allowing us to not only endure but to triumph in the midst of brokenness.Celebrating beauty amidst the brokenness allows us to fix our eyes on #Jesus. #theopendoorsisterhood Click To Tweet
I understand the temptation to deny ourselves these small celebrations of beauty and gratitude when we know that others around us are hurting. But the reality is that denying ourselves joy does nothing to lift up anyone else. In fact, it’s paradoxically the opposite: by allowing moments of beauty to soak into the deepest crevices of our souls, we are filled up so that we may overflow that goodness onto others. Jesus never meant for us to give or act or serve from a position of impoverishment, but abundance. So that we may better serve out justice as a people with plentiful resources helping those without.
Truth is, beauty is everywhere, often found in the little grace notes God writes into our daily lives:
- A favorite friend texting a lunch invitation on a hard day.
- A blog written by a faithful mama living out hope in the thick of special-needs parenting
- A novel diving deep into darkness before rising again into light and hope
- A voice speaking reason and reconciliation into a cacophony of disunity
- A warm house receiving you at the end of a cold day
- A vivid holly bush stumbled upon on a winter-dreary morning
Brokenness and beauty. Today I commit to holding them both together. Acknowledging the one, but celebrating the other. Lingering in those moments of beauty. Savoring them. Letting them dwell in heart and mind, allowing them to take root there.
And every once in a while, taking a photo of what I see and posting it so that my sisters may share in my joy.
“Friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” ~ Philippians 4:8 (MSG)
This post first appeared on Katherine’s blog.
Katherine Scott Jones grew up in cities on every U.S. coast and overseas as her family moved with her father’s Navy career. Seattle became home when she married her husband twenty-seven years ago. After graduating from Whitworth University with a degree in communications, she established herself as a freelance writer before turning her hand to fiction. She blogs about the broken and the beautiful at www.katherinescottjones.com. Katherine and her husband have two teenage children. Her first novel, Her Memory of Music, releases September 2017.