Start over today. Take in every beautiful feeling. Delight in who you are. Shake off the dust of yesterday’s regrets. Tell tomorrow to wait. Choose today to feel what you’ve been waiting to feel. Live with joy; it is a gift that must be given and received by you. Be brave enough to rejoice in the beauty that’s before you. It’s there, find it. I dare you to treasure the details of your life. When you do, living will never be the same.
Come as you are. Skeptical, angry, exhausted; expose it to the Lord. Shed every false pretense you’ve harbored; be present to your God. With a heart that is weather-beaten and raw; pray honestly. Whether lonely, afraid, or ashamed; risk opening your heart once more. God is relentless in loving you; a love without pause, a love without qualifications. You needn’t complicate things; just come as you are, ready to be loved.
We claim that prayer is difficult, and yet refuse to offer our entire hearts to the Lord. We beg Him to help us, but avoid Him every time He draws near. We let Him into our hearts just far enough to tell Him what we want, but put caution tape around everything that’s fragile. We invite Him only so far in, then tell Him not to touch anything. We don’t want His help over there; we corner Him like a child into one region of our hearts that we’re most comfortable with, then beg Him to leave before He changes us too much. That’s what I do, and I wonder how my prayer isn’t fruitful. I tell myself that I’m praying with my whole heart, and that’s what I truly believe at the time, but how much of my heart is covered in cobwebs? I refuse to revisit those forgotten caverns of pain, unforgiveness, and shame. I think that ignoring them will heal them, but I’m wrong to think that. Only God can soothe the sting of suffering or stabilize what has been broken, if only we would allow Him to. Do we, in fact, want to be healed? Because many times the areas of our hearts that we allow the Lord to access, aren’t the areas that need His healing touch. If we want to experience fulfillment like we’ve never known, we need to pray with more sincerity and surrender than we ever have. The best I’ve ever done for the wounds of my heart is to let them fester and infect my soul. We need to be vulnerable with God and allow Him to reach us where we are, so He can heal us as we need. He knows you in the details you have yet to discover about yourself. He is the One we need not guard against. His hand heals, His presence fulfills, His heart truly loves.
Beauty is a conversation. It cannot be contrived from an equation of traits. It cannot be reduced to the achievement of a body type. It is something we communicate, something we emanate. It is an expression of something inexpressible. Beauty is about allowing your presence to announce something profound, a truth that words fail to teach. It is not about conformity, but about discovery. It is not to be forced, but to be recognized. Beauty eases the senses in order to invite hope into the soul. It is meant to confess that truth and goodness still exist. It is something to behold and not something to alter. Beauty is not to be controlled but to be set free.
People are a joy and their company a gift. I speak not out of naivete but out of discovery and love. I am no stranger to the resentful businessman, the surly pedestrian, or the ungrateful neighbor; neither are grief or suffering unfamiliar to me. Yet, I recognize the loneliness hiding in the cynicism, the heartache within the indignation, and the desperate cry for love within every unjustified complaint. Recognizing it as I do, how can I return insult with insult? Our similarities are astounding. How much more then do I desire to love the stranger when I begin to recognize him as brother.
More often than not, I cannot hear God; and more often than not, I’m frustrated by that. But it’s not so much about hearing Him as it is about noticing Him and understanding Him. If faith were dependent upon hearing God, few of us would have a fighting chance. We’re not guaranteed to hear Him, and neither do we need to. God doesn’t tell me very much, but He does give me the most meaningful glances. Sometimes one look says more than words ever could, and that is the essence of how God and I communicate. When I am in pain, and there are no words accurate enough for how I feel, my soul turns to Him with a look that says it all, and He understands. In reply, He offers me the most compassionate gaze, one so tender and intimate that it is almost a physical embrace. When I am exhausted and frustrated, and God cannot get a word in edgewise from all of my complaining; my soul looks to Him with a reluctant sort of surrender. He, in turn, gazes back into my soul, eyes full of love, as a Father Who knows that His little girl has no idea how much He loves her. A picture is only worth a thousand words, but the eyes of the Holy One speak for days.