Do you know what beautiful ugliness looks like? I thought I did. I thought I knew how to look at the awful, broken, and disgusting, to see beauty.
But what about the times when the ugliness spills out of me? Out of you?
Often I feel this happens to me. The pressure, the stress and strain, some of it real, some of it created in my own mind, born of paranoia and fear, comes crashing through my being. Instead of leaving to rest in the arms of my Savior, my stubborn sinful side takes charge. I lash out in anger. I hurt people. I say things I know are not true.
A day not too long ago, all this was poignantly true. In the beginning of the day my eyes were anywhere but on Christ. The "to-do's" crowded in. The pressure of meeting deadlines took precedence in my mind over the far more important care of the eternal souls living around me every day.
And then it all crashed in.
My foundation of sand crumbling. But instead of fighting the tide of sinful nature that comes over me so strong, I succumbed. I gave in to the anger. The selfishness. The pride. I said things I knew were not true.
It all came gushing out. All that ugliness inside of me that I like to turn away from. It sat crumpled in a heap right in front of me. As I sat looking at it, grief for my sin and anger at myself for not living in Christ welled up. And I wept.
I wept and I pleaded forgiveness. They all forgave me. Those around me who I hurt forgave me in love. My Savior forgave me all and washed me clean. I live in constant awe of the miracle of forgiveness demonstrated in me and around me every single day.
I was broken. Seeing yourself as you really are when you try to do it on your own, is bleak and frightening. But the day was not over yet. Loose ends had to be gathered so that things could be accomplished. I should have already left. A dear friend of ours dropped by as I was trying to pack the stray things I needed. This white-haired friend is dear to me because she's a follower of Jesus Christ and she's truthful. She's so honest with herself, honest with me, and her eye's beg me to be honest with her.
I tried to avoid the honesty. I felt the tears would come fresh if I didn't. I backed out of our driveway, Mary in the car with me, I didn't pause to look. There was terrible screech of grinding metal. I stopped. And I think my heart stopped too. I pulled forward and got out. A crater of a dent starred at me from the side of her car. I felt my insides crumble. I can't believe...
And then a struggle. Should I just leave? Maybe she wouldn't notice the crater? But I knew. I couldn't just leave. I couldn't run away from my mistake. I walked back inside. The words choked my throat and the hot tears came all over again. Her first words were: "are you both alright?" And then she enveloped me in tenderness. Hugging me as I sobbed and choked on my pitiful, "I'm sorry." She didn't even go out to see the damage. She just forgave, loving me and giving me grace I didn't deserve.
I'll never forget how she gave me 'grace.' She gave it like Christ gives it. Freely, abundantly, holding nothing back and asking nothing in return. One day, I pray that I can be the white-haired lady giving grace to the one choking out "I'm sorry."
That night as I lay in the darkness of my room my eyes red from tears; my body tired, I thanked God for such an awful wonderful, beautiful ugly day. At my core I was truly thankful. What if I never had to face the angry, selfish part of me? That part, I wish wasn't there. What if it hadn't spilled out, forcing me to take in its ugliness. If the heat and the fire don't bring the dross to the surface, how will the gold ever be fine?
The fire hurts, and I have thick dross that needs burning. But, I praise God He loves me enough to bring the refining fire.
And that is what the 'beautiful' looks like in the midst of my ugly.