The Sacred Beauty: Celebrating the Marring and the Mess
There is blueberry juice in the passenger seat of my Honda Pilot.
You may be wondering how it got there. And I’m all too happy to share. Before I do, however, I want you all to know just how beautiful this passenger seat truly was prior to the blueberry juice incident. It was just lovely, really – absolutely perfect, until the day I moved and unpacked my car only to find an incredible mess.
I don’t know about you, but my life has known a lot of messes. Messes and marring of every kind. We can all relate, right?
Flash forward: The blueberry juice is still there. I’ve got news – it’s not going anywhere. The culprit? I tried to save the frozen blueberries. Yes, I did. They are my favorite, and usually grace my freezer as a staple food item in my home. So, I did what any diehard blueberry lover would do: I snatched them from the freezer, threw them in a plastic bag, and loaded them into my car with one-thousand other things I dared not pack into a moving truck. By the time the trip was over, I had a stained passenger seat that has yet to be restored to its original flawless beauty. Yet, the initial upset quickly settled once I realized it had been given a new beauty all its own that is uniquely mine. God graciously reminded me of a principle He taught me years ago: the principle of sacred beauty and how it actually graces our lives.
To this day I look at that seat and remember the exact date God moved me back to my promised land. So there you have it – the inevitable equation: Frozen blueberries + leaking plastic bag = stained passenger seat. I now have a permanent memento in my Honda Pilot of a promise fulfilled. Ah, the stained blueberry passenger seat of my cherished Honda Pilot. Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways…
To someone who does not know me, they may see that seat and think I’m a slob. That’s just fine with me. They are entitled. But I will tell you, I know differently. God fulfilled a promise He made to me years ago, and there is now living tangible proof in the passenger seat. And everyone who sits in that seat will probably hear about it. I’m sure it will be a hot topic for conversation when they check out where their butt will actually be residing. Seriously. I only hope I can convince them how truly beautiful that seat has become.
The marring and messes in life can be truly beautiful, if we learn to see them through another pair of eyes – eyes that recognize life is not about perfection. It’s about people. And life is not about the mess. It’s about the memories. Life is a journey adorned by these beautiful moments, but they may come to us in ways otherwise unpleasant.
So let’s talk about the marring and the messes, because we all have them.
Another example: Almost twenty years ago (when I first moved to Tulsa) brand new furniture came into my home (full-grain wood nonetheless) along with my new cat, who I named Whisper. Oh my goodness what a sweetheart! He was more like a puppy than a cat. He followed me everywhere, talked to me, greeted me when I came home, lounged in my lap whenever I sat down, and slept with me at night. He was the most social and affectionate creature I had ever known. And his personality was just absolutely adorable. Before he was declawed, my sweet Whisper loved to look out the window – atop my new furniture, all in a brave appeal to the flocking birds outside. When the birds came he would scamper through the house, and his claws would rip across that furniture leaving marks in the grain that were simply irreversible.
To make a long story short, I loved Whisper far more than I loved the furniture. But the day came when I lost Whisper – and I still had the furniture with the marks he had left for me upon it. I cannot tell you how beautiful those marks were to me, although others may have seen them and wondered. Many years later the day came when new furniture adorned my home, and I had to let go of the old. Don’t you know that I had a very hard time letting go of that particular piece that was so lovingly marred? Such tangible evidence of my little friend who I pray I’ll see again someday in Heaven. Now, someone else gets to enjoy those scratch marks, and I made sure they understood just how precious they were to me when I gave them away.
And then there is the tear in my favorite skirt. Yes, I have a torn skirt that I still wear. And I have no desire to mend it. I remember walking through the Plaza one night when a puppy dog had laid hold of it so tenaciously, his owner had to pry him off. It was rather amusing, really. This little pup was just not going to let go. We had a couple laughs and short conversation. I assured him everything was fine, gave the pup a bit of fond affection, and went on my merry way. Of all the moments in my life, do you know I have never forgotten that moment? The tear is nothing anyone would readily notice, but I know it’s there. And again, I have a memory of a playful pup that I wished I could have taken home that night and made my very own. And to this day I am convinced he would have had the same of me if given the opportunity.
And then there are the broken items in my home that were never replaced. One in particular was something in my bathroom that fell off the back of the toilet – a decorative item. In fact, I don’t even remember what it was. Of course my friend was humiliated and horrified. I assured her, “I love you more than I love the object.” And it was nothing. What I do remember was the moment, and having that opportunity to make her more important. I still have my friend, but the object is something I never miss and don’t even remember.
God taught me this principle long, long ago: I have many glorious proofs of a blessed life. But they are not recognizable to anyone but me. The people in our lives are more important than objects. And the memories are more important than the mess. Our values are revealed in how we respond to the marring and mess. And how we respond is determined by who or what we choose to value. My Honda Pilot will be just fine. It’s a car. But every time I see that stained seat, I no longer see blueberry juice. I see a promise fulfilled. And I don’t miss having a flawless piece of furniture in my home. Not a whit. What I miss is my little Whisper who gave me years of companionship, devotion, love and affection. And I have no desire to mend my skirt. I would much prefer to remember the playful puppy on the Plaza who just refused to let me go. And of course, I do not even recall the broken object in my bathroom! But I still have my cherished friend who is absolutely irreplaceable.
I don’t know about you, but life is full of marring and mess that we can choose to consider a sacred beauty. But it’s up to us to view those moments through a new set of eyes, with a new heart, and a true understanding of what life is really all about. Because life is not about things – it’s about people. And it’s not about the marring and mess – it’s about the memories that mark your journey.
But there is one more example that I don’t want you to miss or forget, because this one is for all of us, and it was divinely inspired.
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: so shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider… Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand, (Isaiah 52:13-15 and 53:10, KJV).
Christ is absolutely perfect. He is the model of perfection. His life was perfect. His love for us was perfect. And His sacrifice for us was perfect. But that perfection was not truly realized or fulfilled until He was marred. He was beaten and bruised beyond recognition. And to top it all off He suffered a gruesome, torturous, and barbaric death that was beyond inhumane. That death was motivated by nothing less than His perfect love and perfect mercy. To this day He bears the scars of His loving sacrifice for you and I (see John 20:19-31). They are living proof of His eternal unconditional love. That marring makes Him all that more beautiful. Those marks perfect His perfection. Those scars are a sacred beauty that God calls us to adore. They are what make Him who He really is. He wouldn’t be Christ without them. Because in His sacrificial death, He perfected God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven for all of us who believe upon Him and receive Him as the Lamb of God who died for our sins. It couldn’t happen any other way. And so God implores us to celebrate the marring and the mess, because without it we would never know His blessing or experience the fulfillment of His promises.
Celebrating the Sacred Beauty
I truly believe you have a blessed life. Those blessings are uniquely yours, and only you can recognize them. I pray God enables you to see the sacred beauty in your life and celebrate it, because it’s not revealed in the perfection. Many times it’s revealed in the marring and the mess.
Just a thought. Just had to share. Have an extraordinarily blessed week my friends! See you next Wednesday.
Cheers & Shalom,