Unlikely Beauty: Spotting God’s Blessings in Unexpected Places
I was driving on a country road this morning when, straight out of the rocky hill alongside the road, sprouted a beautiful blossom tree of some sort. It was literally sticking straight out of the side of the mountain, parallel with the road itself. And it’s unlikely beauty reminded me of the verse in Isaiah that says that God’s promised Messiah will “bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 60:3 (italics mine)
Doesn’t He do just that? Doesn’t He find a way to bring beauty out of the most unlikely situations? Doesn’t He somehow redeem even that which is seemingly unredeemable? Have you ever seen or experienced that?
I remember a month or so before I turned 19, my mom and dad sat me and my two big brothers (aged 21 and 23 at the time) down for a family meeting and my mom told us that she had been having an affair and was leaving my dad for this new “love” of hers. I remember specifically thinking how “ugly” the whole situation was— and how “ugly” my family would now be. Before that family meeting, I had thought our family had something valuable and beautiful to offer the world— but now I, like so many others, would have what is called a “broken family.” And that, to me, could never become beautiful, I thought, unless God somehow brought my parents back together and restored their relationship with one another. So it was to that end that I prayed. The decapitation of the “head” and “body” that happens during a divorce was so awful to me that I never thought anything beautiful could come of such a mess. And although I do believe that scenario (of my parents reconciling) would have been God’s ultimate will, it never happened. That family meeting when my mom and dad sat us down and told us that they would no longer be together— that was almost 19 years ago. She is still with the man she left my dad for and my dad is still a single dude.
So where’s the beauty, you ask? Well, I must admit: like the random, yet stunning blossom tree growing parallel to the road this morning, the beauty that has come out of that messy, broken family meeting a lifetime ago has taken me by surprise. It isn’t any place I would have expected to find it.
But the truth is, I do see beauty. Although I still don’t believe that my mom leaving my dad for someone else was a good or beautiful thing— I have since discovered that God really CAN redeem and bring beauty, health, and wholeness to even the most broken and sad situations.
One pleasant surprise that has bloomed from that mess has been my relationship with my dad. Although we were never at odds with each other, we had never really been what I would call “close” before the divorce. But now, as a matter of fact, my dad has become one of my best friends and is an incomputable help to me and my family. He lives just ten minutes away from me and, because he is now retired and I’m now his only local child, my kids and I get to see him quite often. And here’s a little known truth about my dad: that man blesses me like crazy every chance he gets. Like today— the reason I was able to go for a kidless hike and now sit here typing these very words? That’s because my dad took my toddler-boy for the day so that I can have a few hours to myself!!! (Can I get a “Hallelujah” from the moms in the house?) Pretty fantastic, right?!? He offers to take my girls out for ice cream after school, shows up and cheers them on for various sporting events, accompanies us on vacations when Hubby can’t join us, and offers to hang out with a 3-year-old ball of energy so that I can get some peace of mind from time to time. The unexpected fact that we are his only local family has been an unanticipated, crazy-awesome blessing for us all. (P.S. My dad is also one of my favorite people to go on walks with— he’s able to keep a good brisk pace and loves to chat away with me for hours on end. Perfect mixture for this girl.)
One last beautiful surprise to share today before I have to go pick up my girls from school: as I look back on the last 19 years since we sat down to that “ugly” family meeting… I realize how much I’ve learned about God and about life and about relationships in and through the aftermath of that moment. There’s way more than I can share in a simple blog post right now, but for brevity’s sake let me just say: It was in that post-parental-divorce season of my life that I first learned for real that God really is GOOD even though so much of life is hard. And, in fact, I would venture to say that I would have never really known how good He really was until I could see Him and was held up by Him amidst the backdrop of that dark and painful time in the wake of that “ugly,” grief-stricken family meeting.
So no: I don’t believe divorce or infidelity or “broken families” are in any way, shape, or form what God wants for our lives. Yet… He is still capable of blessing and bringing joy and breathing new life and wholeness despite it all.
He is good and pure and faithful and true. And He remains so, even though life and life’s inhabitants might throw us some pretty damn ugly curveballs from time to time.
Lastly for today, I want to share with you some lyrics to a favorite old song that, although I haven’t heard the song for years, it always runs through my mind and out of my mouth when I’m looking at a particularly beautiful sunset or countryside— or even when I am simply just overwhelmed by whatever challenges I may be facing in my life:
You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depths of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above
And I stand, I stand in awe of You
Yes I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You
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What about you?
Where and when have you spotted God bringing beauty from ashes? Have you ever seen Him redeem or heal something you never thought could be redeemed or healed?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.