Beauty and the Beast

Our series on “Beauty” continues; however, today takes a different turn. Today, we talk about Beauty and the Beast. No, not the Disney movie! The Beauty and the Beast that we will take a look at is more metaphorical and yet uniquely personal.

Our Beauty is that person. The one who brings light into darkness. The one who stands by you while all living hell is breaking loose around you and within you. The Beauty could be a male or a female (don’t make this weird–a guy can have a beautiful spirit) and could be a friend, lover, etc. People who dispense beauty into our lives can be male or female. As a Jesus follower, this beautiful person points us to find healing in Jesus. Their presence may be quiet or loud but they consistently love you and respect you as Jesus does. In this fast-paced and often selfish world, this Beauty is rare. Thank God (and them)!

The Beast is YOU. Yes, you! I am not making fun of the fact that you look tired today or forget to wear makeup. The Beast is your vulnerable self. In this state, we are aware that we are letting someone into our scars, wounds, and successes. We are allowing someone to see our story and this is different from the public and social media version of our story. The Beast can indeed be ugly. What if they see me as I really am? The unperfect me? The still-figuring-out-my-life me? Find who you can be your Beast with.

May you find healing because someone stepped up and stepped into your life and showed you Jesus’ love. May you also return the favor!


Beauty And Spring

For the next few blog posts, I will be writing about the aspect of beauty and how it affects various parts of our lives. There is something restoring about beautiful people, places, and things that bring hope and healing to us. We will explore this as spring is a natural transition of beauty unfolding before us.

Spring is here! At least, that is what our calendars tell us. Today appears to be a day that is partly like winter and partly like spring. If you need something to look forward to today, I believe Rita’s Italian Ice gives out discounts or free Italian ice today.

In the Northeast, we usually crave Spring. The barrenness of winter has passed and everyone is coming out of their caves–some people literally. This is a time of planting, pruning, and blossoming. When I worked in mental health, many people experienced their worst depressive states NOT around the holidays (Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day). January through the beginning of Spring were the worse months for anyone with mental health concerns. Why? The holidays are over there is freezing cold temperatures, very little sunshine, and what appears to be little hope.

Dead leaves are on the ground yet green grass is peeking through the pile of yard debris. Patio furniture and fire pits are brought out from storage and ready to be christened with memories of laughter and joy. Lawn mowers are prepared for that first sacred cut of the new mowing season. Evil rears its ugly head as weeds and thistles pop up in your flowerbeds to let their presence be known.

Spring breaks into nature and yet also into our heart and soul. We have needed THIS. Yes, THIS! In colder climates, I do not know many people who have not struggled mentally or spiritually through the winter. Our heart and soul have really been longing for beauty. Beauty can have many forms when it comes to Spring. Maybe we needed reassurance of more sunlight. You could equate this with needing more hope in our despair. Maybe we needed to see new life in our plants and nature. You could also equate this with those places in our heart where we know we need to take some risks with Jesus and others.

Find Beauty in Spring today. Embrace it. Love it. Thank God for it.

In-Between Places

There is something equally frustrating and holy about those in-between places. You know what I am talking about. The times you are waiting from Point A to Point B. The times you are waiting for that thing, situation, or person that you have been praying for. Here is where most of us get stuck as Christians. We go into that in-between place and we lose our minds and hearts. We have to develop a better way of handling these times as we will encounter many of them in our lifetime.

First and foremost, we need to remember that waiting is a normal process but waiting does not mean being monastic. God does not call us to wait in our prayer rooms, disengage from the world, and put our life on hold as we “wait”. When I was in high school, there was a big push for teenagers and young adults to have these lofty expectations in their dating/courting/premarital lives. The standards were so high that it left many Christians frustrated and they no longer have anything to do with Jesus because the standards were almost cultish.

We will experience some suffering in our waiting but we should be looking and seeking out joy. If you are waiting for a spouse, you will not appreciate when you do meet an awesome prospect if you are a miserable being from waiting and praying. That person will run the other way! The same goes for other opportunities: jobs, children, hobbies, friendships, etc. You have to look for the Light in the Darkness. As believers, we are called to be the Light in the Darkness.

During our times in the in-between places, we need to develop a balanced lifestyle. The American way of handling this (and especially driven people) is by disappearing into our work. It is safe there because we will be rewarded for all of that work, right? Not exactly. You can work hard and slowly kill off your heart and mind because your intention is to just be distracted. Be aware of the things that are distracting you during your waiting season.

Lastly, invest in deeper relationships. Relationships and friendships that have sustenance will aide you in being resilient in hard times. Who loves you and is there for you? Who believes in you? These are the folks that you need to be spending your time with. Make an effort to connect with them regardless of how busy you are. You need it and I bet that they probably do too.

May you find joy in your waiting!