Whenever I notice the sky painted shades of pink and orange and purple, I call the kids
outside. We stand together and look up as we “ooh” and “aww” at the masterpiece before us. It’s a simple way that I’m teaching them to see the beauty that surrounds them.
Sometimes, it feels irresponsible to look for beauty when the world is falling apart. It seems insensitive to call it out in the midst of deep pain. And yet, maybe that’s just what we need. Maybe it was the failure to recognize beauty that led to the brokenness in the first place.
In the beginning, God created beauty. As his light illuminated the earth and he pulled the mountains out of the sea, as the plants sprung up and the animals began to roam, God called it all good. Then, he breathed his breath of life into the humans he had formed. When he looked upon them and saw his own image reflected back at him, he saw how lovely they were. Though he knew they would break his heart, he called out their beauty from that very first breath.
For a moment they believed him, and they reveled in the beauty within and around them. They rested in the splendor of a lush garden that dazzled their eyes and supplied their needs. They were free and whole as they received love and gave it without restraint. But it didn’t take long for them to forget. Instead of recognizing the beauty, they began to perceive the blemish. Instead of affirming the truth of their identity as wholly good and wholly loved, they began to believe the lie that they were lacking, and they grasped for what they thought they deserved. The beauty never disappeared, but somewhere along the way, they stopped seeing it.
We know how that goes. It’s the same problem that has plagued humankind ever since. There are those who look at a landscape and see only something to conquer and claim. There are those who look upon their neighbor and see only someone to exploit or disregard. There are those who look in the mirror and see only what they lack. The beauty of God’s creation is all around them, but they fail to notice. Instead, they grasp for what they think they deserve, paying no attention to how they vandalize God’s masterpiece in the process.
When we lose our ability to see the beauty within and around us, we lose sight of our own humanity. We forget what it means to receive and reflect God’s glory. We forget what it means to love and be loved. We begin to break down the beauty that God has created.
God calls us back to that original beauty, and he desires to heal the areas that have been broken. As he invites us into his mission of restoration, we must learn to hold the tension of the beauty and the brokenness. We have to call out the damage that’s been done and hold space for the pain while we continue to recognize and affirm what’s good. We have to train our eyes to keep looking toward God’s beauty within and around us.
God, give us eyes to see. Show us your glory in the sunset. Help us to look for your brilliance in the trees that line our streets and the flowers that add color to our gardens. Remind us that your splendor is found in the generosity of a stranger or the comfort from a friend. Draw our attention to the radiance you have instilled in each one of us. Teach us to see your beauty, to call it out, and to honor it.
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
– Philippians 4:8
Featured image by Anton Darius/Unsplash