Monday, June 25, 2012

Frozen Memories and Progress

Hello Beautiful

The amazing part of weddings is their ability to congregate friends and family from dispersed ends into one location.  This past weekend one of my best friends from college was betrothed. As we watched our friends vow their faithfulness and love for one another our hearts were filled with overwhelming joy, which later turned into merriment.

In our small college town the juxtaposition of frozen memories and progress became the backdrop of new adventures.  As we caught up on the years that have past since we last were together we are reminded of why our friendships have withstood the trial of distance and time.  We are still able to divulge embarrassing stories with love and acceptance, celebrate the successes, and express genuine concerns for each others happiness. A few midnight walks through town allowed us to make new memories—taking silly photos, scaling trains, and simply being young and happy.

—We all change—
—We all stay the same—

It is interesting in this place of pause to see how much we all change and how much stays the same.  As I see my friends growing into their new careers, homes, churches, and lives I realize that Beauty contains an element of time.  Like the maturation of fine wine, weathering of a barn, or aging of Sean Connery.  As we step through life we become more and more the people God has desired us to be all along.  “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalms 37:23). 

As I departed down the beautiful mountains of Virginia, returning to my new home at the ocean, a surreality surrounded me.  I am leaving some of the best friends in the world, a past life, to be rejoined with my new friends who are proving their great worth.  Faded are the memories of loneliness from my original arrival at the beach.  Instead I am filled with love by the lives that have encircled my life, both past and present. 

My steps have been ordered.  Through life we drive down a road of ever changing scenes.  As we surrender navigation to One who has mapped a course far more adventurous and beautiful than we could ever imagine, our lives will be beset by richness.  We will grow and develop beyond our dreams.  And you will be beautiful.

Monday, June 18, 2012

It’s OK to Cry

Hello Beautiful

Often times we wander through life pondering how we ended up here.  A series of unfolding events replays in our minds like a Frank Miller film noir.  A seemingly small step, tiny compromise, or a missed opportunity unravels a path into a world we never imagined would be realized.  And there we sit, at the bottom of our life’s canyon, staring at the impossible cliffs we must ascend to see the light of day.

Our depths may take different forms.  Divorce.  A failing grade.  Unemployment.  Overwhelming stress.  Illness.  Whatever manifestation our obstacle takes, it overshadows the hope of the sun.  It is at these moments in life I feel there is one appropriate response: crying.

It is ok to cry.  We are told that crying is a weak response that yields no solutions to real problems.  While crying may not solve any problems, it is an important step to forward movement in times desperation.  There is no shortage of articles to be found on the stress relief benefits of crying.  However there is more to crying than just temporarily giving up the restraints on our tear ducts.

Crying is a sign of surrender.  It allows us to realize that we are not in control.  Through our saline filled faces and mucus engrossed nasal passages we divulge our weakness and exchange it for Godly strength.  David, one of the most accomplished and mightiest men in Biblical history often wrote Psalms crying in surrender to God.  Psalms 141 is one of many accounts describing his sorrow.

A healthy cry allows us to spell out to our loving Father the weight we have been carrying on our shoulders.  We let go; releasing the fragments of life we have been trying to hold together like a glass vase fracturing in our clumsy hands.  We trade our broken vase for a new block of clay. 

It is here, at the bottom of a canyon, holding new clay, that we find the opportunity to create beauty again.  Feel the sun’s light at the height of noon reach down and meet you.  Regain the strength to push back the canyon walls that are closing in.  There is a long journey ahead of you.  A series of events that will unfold and speak of how you are beautiful.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Shattered Glass Hearts

Hello Beautiful

Last weekend I went to see the movie “Snow White and the Huntsman”. A movie that makes good references to a familiar tale while displaying the advances of modern cinematography.  While the plot may not be as complex as some of today’s blockbusters, it delivers a clear and focused message.  At the climax of the movie the heroine, Snow White declares to Ravenna, the antagonist, “You cannot have my heart.”  Admittedly a part of me stirred when I heard this line.  Annoyed that such a simple sentence could move me, I began to analyze the message of the film.

All around us there are forces after our hearts.  Jobs wanting our effort.  Romantic interest desiring our affection.  Friends seeking our love. Hobbies requiring our passion.  Constantly we are bombarded with opportunities to invest ourselves into others.  It is a wondrous ideal to affect another our own hearts.  But we must tread cautiously because just as easily as we may be recruited to give ourselves, we may also be returned broken.

The plan for your life was never meant to include having your heart shattered like glass on the floor of your life.  Leaving you to sweep up the fragments; attempting to piece together your life giving organ with minimal scaring.  Absurd are the notions we maintain that we cannot be hurt by the scenarios that surround us.  Yet continually we allow others to play with our heart like a child learning to juggle.

Perhaps instead of being so flippant with our heart we should ferociously battle to defend it; allowing it to be a prize earned only by the most deserving of warriors.  Proverbs 23:26 says:

O my son, give me your heart.
May your eyes take delight in following my ways.

How gracious is the one who has engaged in the ultimate self-sacrificing war so that He may hold and guard our hearts for us.  The Proverbs continues on to warn of obvious troubles of the writers culture.  But it is implying something much deeper.  There are many things in our world that look appealing, but in the end they will let you down.  Stand up for yourself and say, “You cannot have my heart.”  Hold yourself and those seeking a part of you to a higher standard.  Not a level of average, reckless, or careless. But the elevated stature of “You are Beautiful.”

Monday, June 4, 2012

Calendar Weights

Hello Beautiful

Like most members of our society I am tethered to my technology.  Imagining a day detached from my iPad or watching my phone’s last bar of battery vanish are nightmares I wish not to experience.  They connect me to the people that matter most in my world, remind me of the tasks I must accomplish, and balance my time.  Lately I have been feeling the weight of all my tasks.  It seems as though the to do list continually outweighs the time in my budget.

I’m reminded of the Notorious B.I.G lyric that says, “the more money we come across, The more problems we see.”  In this instance the currency is time and the problems are each task we try to squeeze into our lives.  Our world runs at an ever increasing pace.  Last week I had to budget time between family, friends, work, church, design, photography, business development, clients, beach, shopping, sleep, etc.  Wednesday I hit a wall.  The stress of the last several months all caught up when I received two letters in the mail drenched in bad news.  I stood still in my house and told God enough, I am exhausted.

I feel that God often waits for us to throw our hands up.  He pushes us, not to our breaking point, but to our surrendering point.  Constantly challenging us to step-up, and be the incredible beings of His creation.  Simultaneously reminding us of our humble dependence upon His strength.  As I sat in church one verse stood out very strongly. 

Psalms 55:16-17,22
16 But I will call on God,
and the Lord will rescue me.
17 Morning, noon, and night
I cry out in my distress,
and the Lord hears my voice.
22 Give your burdens to the Lord,
and he will take care of you.
He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.

With those words my exhaustion did not vanish.  My budget did not miraculously fix itself.  And I wish I could say that my divine healing came at that moment.  None of this happened.  My creator simply let me know He has my back.  No matter how worn out we have become from the weightier matters in our lives, we have someone that can restore the balance in our calendars and help us accomplish everything He desires for us.

You are beautiful.