Our little family made the 2-hour trek to my hometown for Labor Day weekend. With 2 kids and 2 dogs, we brought chaos to Grandma and Grandpa’s otherwise calm home! The weekend was a last minute getaway; nothing on the schedule, nowhere to go, no expectations.
I grew up in rural southeast Nebraska – a town of about 400. As a kid, I could never truly appreciate the beauty found in small towns and farmland. It could not be compared to the scenic views of the mountains or the vast blue of an ocean. When I left for college and moved out of state, it was difficult to explain to my new friends what real small town life was like. Kids who grow up in Chicago suburbs have a hard time understanding what a town of 400 looks like! I would describe it as flat and sparse; and I certainly never defined it as beautiful!
But now, when I return as an adult (especially for a weekend away with no obligations), I am able to stop and soak in my surroundings. I allow myself time to enjoy a sunset over green fields which unfold for miles and miles. My perception of sparse land with no trees is quite false. There are small groves of trees surrounding beautiful streams spattered all over. Bunches of bright flowers in ditches, overpowered by the tall corn when you drive by, simply beautiful on a slow walk. And even though I’ve had this perception that there are no hills, I realized while on a long run on those delightfully soft gravel roads that there ARE hills!
How unfair to assess the beauty or value of something through a fast, preoccupied glance, or through the blinded eyes of youth?! I pondered during my long weekend and began to compare this to how God works. This world, our life experience, our relationships – it might seem boring or ugly or broken; it might not be as perfect as we imagined. But in reality, there is beauty if you stop and look closely. God is working within our brokenness!
Now, I can picture my parents reading back through this and saying: “Did you just declare our town to be broken?!?” And I guess in a way I am – but I’m not trying to single it out! We are ALL broken in some way. We are human; we sin, we fail, we do ugly things every day. Sometimes we make the wrong decision. Sometimes we are selfish. Yet there is BEAUTY in each of us. Beauty in me, beauty in you, beauty in that person in your life that seems to do nothing but irritate you!
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
This is especially appropriate to consider on September 11. That day was full of brokenness – disasters previously inconceivable in this country. Yet the unity, support and hard work which followed was a thing of beauty. I yearn for that experience to simply be humans united to make the world a better place!
So we must allow ourselves the time and space to step back from a seemingly broken situation – a natural disaster, a broken marriage, an unexpected loss, that self-imposed feeling of inadequacy – and see the many ways God is present. We must acknowledge that though broken, God creates beauty. We are broken, yet we are loved and forgiven. And we are beloved children of a God who brings healing and hope!