The other day I was cleaning up the house and I was incredibly proud of all I had done. The house was a mess before the boys left for the day and the girls and I made even more messes with our playing and baking as the day went on. I found myself thinking, "I wish Jake could have seen exactly how messy this was so he knew how much I really accomplished today." (Because yes, I'm incredibly mature like that.)
But that thought started me on a few more. Like how we really can't appreciate the beauty of things if we haven't seen the messy condition they started in. Or how we tend to take something's - or someone's - beauty for granted if we've never seen the chaos within.
I know that in my life, God has brought beauty from the messy...from my ever wandering heart in high school, from being away from my family for 7 weeks in a hospital bed only to have the girls in the NICU for almost 3 more months. From Jake and I struggling so badly in our marriage that I thought I would never be able to look at him and even like him again. From living in a place for four years where I never had friends that really knew me...really knew me...pretty much until the end and the loneliness that came from that time.
Yet, in all of this, I grew more than ever before. God redeemed every messy, hurtful situation with a beautiful provision.
In high school - He showed me His love and protected me from so many hurts. He eventually gave me a husband who also knew His love and would love me as God calls him to.
In the hospital - He healed my body, gave me new friendships, gave me strength that I never had to rely on before (I now feel like I can take on the world!), and above all, gave me two healthy girls that bring me joy every day. I look into their faces and I see no sign of the fight they faced when they first graced this planet. Except for a small scar on Hayden's arm from the pic-line placed to save her life, you would never know they had such obstacles to get through as infants.
In my marriage - He showed me how to persevere, to forgive, to ask forgiveness, what it means to truly let go of the past and to have a humble heart. Our marriage is better than ever.
In friendships - He taught me that He is the first One I should turn to above all else, but that I also need to put myself out there a bit more. People won't want to open up to me if I'm constantly a closed door to them. He gave me incredible friendships there and I've been blessed with so many new friendships in our time here already.
All of this is to say that I've seen God make a lot of beauty out of ashes in my only 28 years of life. Sometimes I think we strive to have a "no-hurt life" where people are always kind to us, say exactly what we want them to, we're always healthy and so is everyone we love. We want money to always be flowing in and no stress in any way. It seems like that would be truly receiving God's blessing.
But that's not when God is at His best.
If everything in the world worked out perfectly and we never had to depend on Him for anything, how much more would we take Him for granted? If people were always kind and faithful to us, being exactly what we needed when we needed it, how much more would we deny our relationship with Him?
The last two years, I've prayed something pretty bold throughout the year. It's this simple statement: "Lord, do whatever You need to do to draw me closer to You." This can be a scary thing to pray because it's often in the hard times that we draw nearer to God. But I absolutely believe and know that it's after those hard times (and sometimes within them as well) that we can see the beauty that God had in mind for us the entire time.
I'm not saying pray for disaster and calamity to take over your life! But I am saying that maybe we shouldn't be so quick to want an escape route.
Maybe God is doing something incredible inside the chaos.
It's after the storm that a rainbow is reflected.
It's after they start to die that fall leaves are so rich and beautiful.
It's after a hard, dead winter, that the buds and blossoms and green grass almost hurt our eyes, they're so rich with color.
And it's after we fall that He can pick us up. I pray that every time He picks us up, we can see from His perspective. That His redemption and restoration of our trials in life will shine so much brighter than the messes. That we appreciate that beauty...His beauty.
My prayer for me. And my hope for you. :)