The Courage of Beauty-Seeking
Updated: Mar 11, 2022
Sunlight slanting through a window. Baby toes. Friendship. Chocolate chip cookies. Leaves in the breeze. Smiles. The sky-sized watercolor we call a sunset. Hot showers. Music. The sound of waves. Forgiveness.
The fact is, life is extraordinary, and it’s worth celebrating.
And yet, the world is groaning and sin-ugly. Pain, pandemics, wars, loss, and sin are vivid realities. Our lives can feel overwhelming and fast-paced, and not in a good way. How does a sentiment about sunsets grapple with real life? Real pain? Is there a way to find beauty in this world? And why is beauty important?
I've spoken before about the struggles I have with depression and anxiety. Let's face it: I have, by nature, a glass-half-empty personality. So, reader, the fact that I'm able to write this at all comes at a price. It comes from holding on by my fingernails to the truth that my God will never forsake me.
I’ll tell you something else, though. My personality means that it’s vital that I notice the astounding beauty in the world around me. Sometimes it’s a lifeline, all that keeps me from slipping into the black places in my mind. Beauty is one tangible thing that reminds me of how near and how kind my God is.
When faced with stress, I know that choosing to look toward the light, whether literally or figuratively, is brave. It isn’t a cure, but it’s a baby step. And sometimes, all I can handle is a tiny, brave step forward.
Daniel reminds me often that life isn’t a race. We don’t get points for rushing through it like an obstacle course. Why did God create sunsets if we weren’t supposed to notice His creative genius and consider how big He is?
In the gospels, Jesus tells us to look at the birds of the air, to see field lilies and grass flowers, and remember how much more He will provide for our every need. Psalm 147 reminds us that the same God who heals the brokenhearted also numbers and names each star in the universe.
Isaiah points us toward creation to ponder on our God’s eternity, omnipotence, and omniscience. Then, Isaiah tells us that our Father carries His children like a shepherd carries lambs.
In the book of Job, while Job wrestles to come to terms with his trials, God answers him out of a whirlwind and directs Job’s gaze toward creation—dust and snow and animals and
Over and over in the Bible, the Lord uses commonplace things to point us toward His nature. Creation is a testimony to His glory.
Beauty in creation also reminds us that there is more--there is a reality untouched by sin and sorrow. Although this world and our own hearts create an ache we can’t overlook, our sovereign God is here, with us, right here. One day we will see Him face to face.
God with us is so simple, so ordinary and extraordinary all at once. He is with us when we eat breakfast and buy groceries. God exists right where we are, and we grow because He is with us. We are His, and there is goodness and light because He is on His throne. He doesn’t change. We can see His handiwork in a hummingbird’s wings and the miracle of growing plants and babies being born. Despite all that’s broken, beauty is everywhere. It sparkles like a billion shards of gold, sprinkled right under our noses. And if we truly see, it can make our hearts swell with thankfulness.
I wonder if choosing to seek and create beauty is one of the most courageous things we can do? In the face of unknowns, we are planting our flag in the ground to say, “Right here. I choose to live fully. I’m deciding that right now is a gift.”
There is an art to noticing the wonder in our everyday lives. Newsflash: finding contentment and thankfulness doesn’t have to feel like a training exercise.
God makes beautiful things out of dust when He saves us and makes us His children. One of the ways He reveals Himself to humanity is through creation. When we are completing tasks faithfully, we are creating order. Creating beauty out of chaos is mimicry of our redeemer, and we can worship as we follow His example.
Applying the gospel – the truth about Christ crucified on our behalf, revealed in the Bible -- to our messy everyday lives is revolutionary. When I tell myself, “I am a sinner who deserves hell, but God Almighty has chosen to love me to the point of death on a cross,” these undeserved joys all around me become bountiful gifts. We are broken, yet redeemed, and the part of us that longs for our heavenly home can revel in the glimmers of glory God has created here on earth. They are hints of what’s to come.
And when we step from seeking beauty to also creating it ourselves, it becomes an act of love.
Realizing the significance of home, a hot meal, or a smile gives us opportunities to show Christ. I can choose to grumble about changing another diaper, or I can look in my baby’s eyes while he’s on the changing pad and sing a song. Every moment – every mundane moment – is ablaze with meaning.
Despite all that’s unknown, our God is good, and He gives good gifts. They’re all around us, in sunlit afternoons and stormy nights of the soul alike. If you’re like me and you need to anchor your heart daily on an all-powerful and kind God, join me in courageous celebration of the life we’ve been given. We won’t do it perfectly, and we’ll stumble because we’re human, but there is wonder to be found if we just shift our gaze. And in turn, we’ll help those around us to do the same.
Do you see one? A tiny gift from your Father? Start there.
Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing the ways I'm learning to embrace simplicity and create space for what matters. Make sure you're subscribed to email updates to keep up!