The Ugly Path to Beauty

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Beauty is so powerful.  Beautiful music, majestic landscapes, winding gardens, a clean, organized, warmly decorated home… there are so many avenues through which we invite the inspiration of beauty into our lives.  But there’s a little-discussed fact about beauty that I conveniently push out of my consciousness. Beauty is most often the result of an ugly process.

Almost without exception, the most breathtaking art I have ever heard or seen created has been made by messed-up people who first scribbled their ideas frantically on napkins or whatever was handy as they went about an otherwise ordinary day. More often than not, the greatest works of art are born out of pain, loss, brokenness, struggle, even sin.

Before each beautiful new human being is brought into this world there are nine months of not-so-pleasant experiences – weight gain, illness, hormonal fluctuations, cravings, self-esteem plunges, and don’t even get me started on the actual delivery.  But look at the incredible result — a human being with unique DNA and gifts this world needs!

Similarly, beautiful gardens all begin the same way – nasty dirt under the fingernails, spiny roots, crumby-looking seeds, and sometimes even a good backache or blister as an extra crowning touch. The rose pictured in this blog is the result of a grueling day of digging holes in the black Indiana soil, putting this awful looking brown stick in the ground, and waiting… and waiting… and waiting… Hoping all that mess was worth it.  And it was totally worth it.

Sure we all love seeing a beautiful result, but there is a unique depth and richness waiting for those who embrace the entire process of beauty-in-the-making.  If I want a beautiful, organized home I’ve got to roll up my sleeves and get messy before I get that result I want.  And if I want to write beautiful, inspiring work, I have to write pages and pages of thoughts I wouldn’t let my dog read. (Not that the dog can read, but you get my point.)

Beauty isn’t about “haves” and “have nots.”  It is about making ourselves servants to a difficult, often painful, downright ugly process that becomes far more enduring than even the resulting beauty can offer us.  For this reason I urge you to remember – there are all kinds of beautiful. Embrace the process. Get your hands dirty.  Avoid the temptation to settle for instant gratification. The depth of that process results in a kind of beauty many others will miss, and perhaps never thought possible.

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