In this Pinterest age, when the world around us is only posting or sharing the picture-perfect, we are often tempted to hide or deny any part of our reality that is not beautiful or worthy of showing off. Meticulous mum-making and cutie-crafting have brought me great joy and been my escape, at times, from daily life. Satisfaction was reached while checking off the “it’s finished” box. Stepping back and evaluating the beauty was rewarding. However, I’ve not allowed myself to get into Pinterest—not because I’m not craft-inclined, but because I am. I can be the cake lady, sewing lady, and the handmade-card lady. I can throw a party that guests remember for years, because I was raised reading Emily Post. I know my strengths and my weaknesses, and Pinterest runs on both. I know my sinfulness that peeks through when things around me aren’t picture perfect—the nagging “fix this piece” and “adjust that part just a little to the left.” It is easy to be pleased with the flawlessly beautiful things in life. They look good and feel good, and they make life seem right somehow. Beauty is good.
And then the unbeautiful creeps in—the ugly truth, the ugly hurts, the ugly words, and the ugly behaviors. I feel tested in the midst of daily struggles. The ugly is repulsive. I want to shun it and avert my eyes. I can respond by correcting those around me with equally ugly thoughts, words, and deeds. The ugly bleeds through into our beautiful lives.
In prayer I asked God, “Why do I try to seek all that is good, right, and holy just to reap a mixture of beautiful gifts and ugly drudgery? Why isn’t the work rewarded with good fruit?” Then I realized it is in the ugly that we find beautiful love—the horribly disgusting poopy diaper met with tender care; the gentle pampering that accompanies a bucket of vomit; the dragging oneself out of bed to re-live another day of the same laundry, and dishes, and carpool that tried the soul the day before; the “I love you still” after a teenager says they hate you—all are signs of loving through the ugly.
God models this best in his love for me as I carry my ugly sins on my sleeve, not because my sins are beautiful, but because his love is beautiful. He loves us through our ugly and asks us to love others through theirs. Loving in the ugly: that is beautiful.