At a recent retreat I attended in Moravian Falls, I had the opportunity to paint a tree. I have always wanted to paint… but it hasn’t been in my “wheelhouse”. I was glad I was trying something new — but felt completely out of my comfort zone.
So when Lisa watched me work, she asked, “Everything okay? Are you having fun?” I answered as honestly as I’d ever answered before. I said, “No, not yet.” I wanted it to be okay. But I was struggling… and I couldn’t lie. And I knew my painting was far from beautiful at that point.
Fast forward a bit… The painting sits on my piano. And every time I look at it, I actually think it is beautiful. But in that moment at the retreat when LIsa asked me that question — I didn’t pretend it was all okay. I didn’t act like I was happy about what was going on when it was clear I was having a hard time. I didn’t know what I was doing. And in my eyes, my art wasn’t turning out the way I thought it would.
But now I see beauty where once I only saw hard stuff.
So I’ve been thinking —
Moses struggled. David struggled. Esther struggled. Ruth struggled. Peter struggled. Paul struggled. Jesus struggled. (Remember the garden scene?).
How often in life do we pretend all is okay… even when it is clear we are struggling? If someone asks if we are okay, we nod and say, “YES” — even though we know it’s not true. It’s like we don’t want to admit that the struggle is real and that we are in the midst of it. Admitting we are struggling doesn’t lessen our faith. For me, when someone tells me they are struggling, I can relate to them more. NOT because misery loves company, but because they trust me enough to share what is really going on with them… and I, in turn, know I can do the same.
And yes, I believe that on the other side of struggle… beauty is revealed. Look at the mountains — think about how they are formed. WOW. That is struggle — and they are majestic! .And trees? The push their way up through hard earth. They struggle to survive but then provide shade and clean air! And when caterpillars are transformed into butterflies? It’s a struggle that results in one of the most beautiful metamorphosis ever!
And what about birth? That is a struggle indeed. But the beauty and life that can come on the other side of it? WOW. WOW. WOW.
I am learning to rest more and more in Jesus. I don’t have to have it all figured out. I don’t have to know everything. I don’t have to have everything perfect in my life. I can just BE.
In that assurance… I can also know that in the struggles.. even in those moments where God asks, “So… is everything okay?” I can be honest with Him and know that He understands. He knows my struggles. He NEVER leaves me. And just like my babies come to me and snuggle up close in times of deepest teen angst… I can do the same with God.
And what if we all did that for each other? What if we were to be real about our life, our pain, everything that we are wrestling with? If we start doing that, then I believe we will start to see glimpses of the beauty that we didn’t see before… even in the struggles.
This is a beautiful song that speaks to us in our struggles… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIZitK6_IMQ
and another that speaks to us right where we are at when we are struggling…