I feel like a rope caught in a tug-of-war – beauty is on one side and ugly on the other.
I’m astounded at the beauty in my life these days. My friendships are beautiful and rich, spread all across the country and snuggled up in my own apartment. My heart is expanding and stretching as a whole new person has slipped into it, teaching me in all new ways what it means to love and be loved.
My days are packed full with meetings and emails and articles to be written, but for me, that’s a little picture of heaven. I am filled with purpose by my job, feeling deeply satisfied as I sprint from one thing to the next, knowing in the most fundamental ways that I’m living the life that I was perfectly created for.
Life is exciting and magical as my adult life is unfolding – unfurling dramatically and with flair like a red carpet from Hollywood’s golden years.
Each email is a surprise – my article is going to be featured, my photograph has been chosen, or (my favorite) a message from a reader.
Each day is a montage of dreams coming true and real life being lived. I couldn’t ask for more.
But these beautiful moments aren’t coming without a fight – in fact, it feels like an angry, powerful force is pulling me towards the ugly side of life with all of it’s might, sometimes even coming close to winning the fight.
My mind is the battleground of choice, with the treasure being my thoughts. Back and forth they go, swinging wildly between fear and trust, panic and peace, doubt and joy.
On the best days, I’m filled with contentment as I open my eyes wide to the beauty and richness of my life. But on the worst days, I am dissatisfied with everything, perusing my life with scorn as nothing meets my skyscraping expectations.
On the good days I’m enchanted by southern charm. I’m slowly training myself into a love of sweet tea, and every time I pass Lake Lanier, I’m filled with gratitude for the God of beautiful, blue water.
But on bad days, when the ugly is winning out, Gainesville is compared nastily to all of the exotic places I been so blessed to live. The lake is compared to the perfection of the water in Phuket, Thailand, coming up dingy and small in comparison. The two coffee shops that Gainesville boasts are compared to the patisseries in Paris or the café that made the first perfect cappuccino in Florence.
The hills are compared to the Rocky Mountains and the food compared to the real stuff in Mexico, and Thailand, and India.
Everything comes up short… ugliness wins.
There are times when I live peacefully inside my head, trusting the Lord with all aspects of the future, and taking each day as the bite-sized gift that it is – like a morsel of chocolate, a perfect little truffle.
And then there are days when I feel like I’m alone in the middle of an angry ocean – the realities and questions about the rest of my life crashing heavily, over and over again. Those are the days when I cry… big, fat tears. The days when the same reassurances have to be given and when they only manage to soothe the surface of my heart, like Neosporin or an ice pack, before they come back with force.
It’s a battle of beauty and ugly in my life these days and on some days, there’s no telling which side will win.
I wish I gave into the ugly less. I wish that it wasn’t even a contest.
But the good news is that we’re not fighting alone.
We have the creator of beauty, himself, on our side.
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:14
And his beauty isn’t contingent on our ability to see it in any given moment.
What battles are you fighting these days? Where do you need the Lord to fight for you?