The word beautiful brings very specific things to my mind.
I describe fall-colored leaves against plush, green grass as beautiful. Snow capped mountains are breathtakingly beautiful. Pale blue eyes, like my sister’s, are my favorite kind of beautiful. A sunset on the horizon of a white sand beach is beautiful. I see beauty when I think of the sky after a summer rainstorm, newly formed mud puddles just waiting to be stomped through.
The list goes on.
This semester I have craved beauty more than ever before. I’ve desired beauty in the form of endless adventure, a life full of fun and nonstop goodness. I’ve sought after the beauty I see in well-done, successful dating relationships. I’ve spent countless hours researching ways to change my appearance in small, here-and-there ways to find beauty in the mirror.
I looked around campus and saw beauty. Beauty in God’s creation–in nature itself–and in the architecture He blessed someone with the ability to imagine and create. But it wasn’t enough.
I found beauty as the fall season rolled around and tree leaves began to paint themselves different hues of the coziest colors. But it wasn’t enough.
I rejoiced in the beauty I saw in my freshmen girls’ Bible study as they sought after the Lord and allowed me to guide them in that search. But it wasn’t enough.
I allowed self-doubt and shifting momentum to steal my life’s beauty. I didn’t find beauty in the opinion writing class I’d spent the summer looking forward to. I failed to find beauty in the diversity of belief and opinion in my Islam and other religious studies classes. I didn’t take advantage of the beauty of learning the Italian language.
And I definitely didn’t find beauty in my media law course.
Instead, I wasted the potential of the beauty around me as I daydreamed of my own version of “beauty.”
I skipped my once beloved opinion writing class to run after my own idea of beautiful, the kind that comes from a relationship.
I overlooked the beautiful opportunity to grow my own faith as I learned about another.
I missed the opportunity to deeply learn the beliefs of people around the world as I sat in a lecture hall and daydreamed about going to tell them about Christ, missing information that is vital to communicating the Gospel in a personal, truly beautiful way.
Daydreams of visiting and living in Italy overshadowed my need and desire to learn the language to actually make those dreams reality.
I traded in the beauty God had graciously provided me with in this season for false versions of beauty I fabricated in my mind and heart.
Yet I wondered why I still felt so empty.
Travel is beautiful. So is the ability to communicate through different languages in different cultures, the ability to write, the ability to talk someone about their faith even if it differs from your own.
But there is also beauty in things like media law.
There is beauty hidden in your less-than-desirable reflection, in the days when you don’t have time for breakfast, when you feel much less than adequate, when you feel like you can’t do anything right.
It’s in moments like these that we find beauty in the fact that we aren’t meant to do this on our own. We find beauty in the grace our Father has freely given us and continues to give us daily.
We find beauty in the mirror, no matter what we see, when we remind ourselves that we are God’s creation. (Try to tell Him He made something ugly, I dare you. You’ll be wrong.)
We find beauty in the days we don’t have time for breakfast because each time our stomach growls and we’re reminded of the last meal we ate (likely last night’s dinner), we’re reminded of all that He has blessed us with–abundantly more than we deserve.
We find beauty when we realize we aren’t qualified or strong enough to get things done on our own, because in those moments we see God’s strength for what it truly is, His love and faithfulness to get us through it all.
We find beauty in a media law class when we recognize that for so long we’ve allowed others’ opinions of us–and our own perceptions of ourselves–to dictate how we get through life, how we carry ourselves and, ultimately, how we view God.
We see God’s beauty truly and unobstructed when we see our own lacking, when we realize we could never live up to Him, and when we accept that He is sovereign and faithful to pull us through the moments when our power sources have run dry.
There is beauty in failure, friends. This life is beautiful, not because it always looks appealing, not because it’s full of constant fun and adventure, but because it’s a little bit of everything and a whole lot of God.