Today marks the end of my 30 day beauty challenge.
In some ways, it is hard to believe. When I first came up with the concept, I had no particular ideas about where it would lead. I thought it would be an interesting exercise and I leapt into it without reservations. As I look back on my past posts, I notice that many of them revolve around abstract, rather than concrete, topics.
Initially, I envisioned myself writing mostly about specific things. But as I’ve progressed along this journey I’ve realized that beauty is abstract. It is about more than material things and about more than merely what can be experienced through the senses. In my opinion, the most beautiful thing about beauty is that it lifts us higher. It takes us out of ourselves so that we can appreciate glimpses of Truth removed from the confines of ego.
I have a tendency to think too much.
It is so tempting to try to rationalize everything, to reason through things that need to be done and things that have already happened. There are so many thoughts that flit through our minds, remaining ever unexpressed. We question and we doubt and thoughts flicker across our consciousness, thoughts that we would never share and thoughts we do not understand.
Sometimes, we become so wrapped up in our thoughts that it is essential to gain perspective. By perspective, I mean that we must look at our own earthly life in relation to all of God’s glory. In this regard, we are small. Standing before the splendour of His creation, we are a piece in the puzzle of all His people, a blink in the eye of eternity… and petty problems and consuming thoughts no longer seem to have power.
In a way, this has been an undertone of many of my posts, but I really want to emphasize the importance and the beauty of thankfulness.
I think all too often we see thankfulness only as something that we should do. It becomes a duty, a rote reminder of the things we have that we should not take for granted. In striving to be thankful for our blessings, we actually invite guilt. We scold ourselves for wanting or complaining when there are so many other things for which we should feel grateful.
I am an anti-procrastinator.
It’s a strange label to assign oneself. I do not mean that I never procrastinate, because there are certain duties that I prefer to delay until later. By anti-procrastination, I am referring to a desire- a compulsion even, to finish. To be finished with an undesirable task so that the “bad” can be out of the way and the “good” left to enjoy.
There are a number of things wrong with this philosophy. Although the aptitude for focus and the ability to work hard are not negative qualities, they can easily be taken too far. They are only good when they are life giving, and when they lead to obsessive thought patterns and excessive self-discipline, they actually remove us from life’s momentary flow, from its joys and its beauties.
Since today featured another thrilling win from a Canadian hockey squad, I thought perhaps I’d touch on another aspect of sport and why I love it so much.
I love most all sports, but I follow hockey devotedly. Becoming emotionally invested in the outcome of sport is something that I think some people don’t understand. They see it as “silly” perhaps to become so involved in what is only a game. In some respects, they may be right. But there is more to sport and more to supporting a team than merely winning or losing.
I think this is an appropriate day to express my love for the Olympics. I love the Olympics. I await the games with great anticipation, and when they finally arrive, I am swept away into the stories of the events without fail. In my opinion, there are so many beautiful things about the Olympics that I don’t know quite where to begin.
There is, of course, the indescribable thrill of victory. Canada certainly experienced this today with gold medals from the women’s curling and hockey teams. The women’s hockey game was especially tense, with Canada emerging triumphant in an epic underdog story. With under four minutes to spare, returning from a two goal deficit seemed an unlikely outcome for the Canadian team. But despite the way it may have seemed, Canada made up the difference and scored the winning goal to earn the gold in overtime.
I think there is a growing need in our culture to display what we are doing.
It is as if our actions and our words do not matter unless they have been properly documented and shown to the world. As if we are who we are because we appear that way. And as if without these proofs of our identity, we would be nothing.
I don’t agree with this philosophy. And although we all feel this pressure, I don’t think it is necessary to adhere to it. We may long for praise and affirmation, but we misguidedly attribute the root of this longing to worldly sources. At our very core, we are not longing for temporary words of admiration. This longing is for something entirely different. It is for what transcends earthly bounds, and yet we try fruitlessly to fill it by looking to earthly places.
There are some nights when the loneliness of life seems to close in on us. We feel without voice and without friend. In these nights, God waits with us. He listens tirelessly to our complaints, our woes and our worries; the sorrows yet unspoken and tears thus far masked. He offers comfort and provides pure peace.
In times of hurt, we turn to Him, to ease our suffering. In desperate wanting, dreary dissatisfaction, anger, fear, uncertainty… we call His name and cry for things we think we need. We ask for what we do not know to come. We wish for a future unfolded and fair, for dreams brought within our grasp, lowered to our height. We pray for peace and healing for the ones we cherish most.
But after these prayers leave our lips, do we ever dwell on them again? Do we remember the things we once wanted? The problems or concerns that once consumed our lives? As we enter a new season, our circumstances may shift, bringing new rain and new flowers, dispelling the old from our mind.
In the stillness of the night, in the lonely light of darkness… there are thoughts here now that stir. Thoughts I once had buried. There are fears that creep from corners, to whisper with false truths. Weary with their weight, my mind bends to their fickle words.
The worry plagues upon my thoughts, a sharp stab of unease. Unrest that I try to dispel under my own strength. I look to conjure up a guarantee, to create some sort of certainty. I rehearse my plans until they consume my mind, but they do not provide peace. They only beg for more.
You don’t have to do this.
Forgiveness is most difficult when it is unacknowledged.
When someone apologizes and explicitly asks for our forgiveness, it is easier to give it. It is easier to give something that is eagerly sought than to cast this grace on one who is uninterested in receiving.
But what does it really mean to forgive? I would say that the external admission of forgiveness is secondary. Don’t we often say we forgive someone when we really haven’t? Our words are in line with politeness and conventions, but our heart may be far away from what we have spoken. And yet, speech has little value on its own, even if it is accepted in the world’s eyes.