There are days when I marvel at the beauty around me. When the sun is shining and it’s a perfect 75 degrees outside. The flowers are blooming. A friend texts me a thoughtful message of love. I’m rocking my skinny jeans. My coffee is delicious. Birds flutter around my head and a rainbow follows me everywhere I go. The other 363 days of the year, I get out of bed and stub my toe on the shoes I didn’t put away yesterday. The sky is cloudy. There are no thoughtful messages on my phone and I wonder if all my friends forgot about me. I dream about putting on sweatpants. There are toys all over the house and my preteen son’s room is starting to emit a smell. Some days, finding the beauty in your life feels straight up impossible.
I've been meditating on the idea of “a beautiful life” lately. Well, maybe "mediating" isn't the right word. Struggling is more like it. I write about finding the beauty within the mess. This is not a new idea. Many people write about searching for the peace, beauty, and joy in the middle of chaos. But what if we all have it wrong? What if it isn't about finding the beauty IN the mess? What if the beauty IS the mess?
Look, I know your life isn't perfect. Mine isn't, either. I know you struggle sometimes to find peace, beauty, and joy. I know that some days, you just can't find it. We expect beauty to look a certain way. If you are anything like me, you are looking for shininess. Sparkle. Or at the very least, calm. When that doesn't exist, we can feel like there's no loveliness anywhere.
But when we look for the shine, we miss a whole other kind of beauty. The human kind. Our messes, our flaws, our sadness, anger, and tragedies are what make us beautiful. They are what make us human. Perfection doesn't inspire people. Being authentic does. We are inspired when we see someone go through a struggle and rise from it, better than before. We are moved when we see someone respond to hate with love. We are encouraged when we see someone fall to their knees in despair, only to rise bravely to their feet.
Most likely, you are dealing with some stuff right now. There is some dirt taking the shine off your life. You are looking for the peace or joy that is hiding there somewhere. It's got to be there, right? Generally speaking, yes, it is there. But sometimes it is incredibly hard to find. Fortunately for you, you don't have to dig for it. You just have to know that the beauty is right in the middle of your struggles. It's in your eyes when you smile at your children, even if you aren't feeling the smile. It's in your spine when you straighten your shoulders to take on the next challenge. When you can't do it on your own and finally you ask for help...that's beautiful. When you can't hold the tears back and go to a quiet spot and cry yourself out...there's peace, once all that emotion flooding your system has quieted down.
In the middle of the toughest moments of your life, YOU are the beauty. You, doing your best to get through the day. You, caring for the people in your life. You, inspiring, moving, and encouraging your friends and family just by being yourself.
I was questioning my feelings on this myself, but then I had a sudden realization. I thought of my husband, who is stretching himself to the max right now, trying to be the best version of himself in all areas. He's putting a lot of pressure on himself, and I doubt he's seeing it the way I am. He's hoping with all his might that he's doing it right, that he's doing enough. He doesn't realize that it doesn't matter if he does it perfectly. The simple fact that he cares enough to give it his best is perfect. His effort is what is beautiful, not the end result.
I know when life gets messy you don't need platitudes. You need concrete things. You need sturdy things you can cling to. The only sturdy thing I can give you is my faith. In you, and in your ability to be the beauty you need to see in the world.