Life falls apart for each of us sooner or later. At least it feels like it. Pressure builds up and seams give way — mentally, physically, relationally, financially, spiritually. What you do in the immediate aftermath is important. If you throw up your hands and pitch it all away, valuable landmarks from your past and keys to the future are likely lost. But if you can let the dust settle and gently work through the rubble, unexpected treasure is sure to be found.
Taking Time to See
It had been hanging in the dining room for several years: a long, narrow frame filled with dried leaves and flowers. Reminders of our first trip to Hawaii and my first time through The Artist’s Way. Lessons in stepping past fear and learning to honor the details.
When I recently heard a loud noise downstairs, I was disappointed to see the frame had burst apart and barely hung from the nail. I can only conclude that the thickness of the dried petals eventually prevailed over the tacks and glue of the frame.
As I carefully took it down, the thought went through my mind to throw the whole thing in the trash. Surely, there was no fixing or reason to keep it. But a quiet nudge suggested otherwise. I set it on the table to deal with later.
When I got around to it, a few days later, I decided to at least remove the flowers and leaves before tossing the frame. As I carefully took each out and laid on the counter, my heart leapt. The backsides of these aging flowers were more vivid in color and detail than the day I’d first put them in the frame. Somehow, while the exposed sides had faded with time and light, the undersides were more beautiful.
A Deeper Work
I smiled as the Holy Spirit reminded me of times when my life had suddenly, sometimes violently, burst apart. When relationships hit an unexpected fork. When personal choices revealed hidden feelings. When all that had once seemed so beautiful began to fade and push into another season, leaving behind broken pieces and disappointment.
Oh, how hard to not push it all aside and quit. How hard to let emotions calm and time slow. But when I laid down assumption and pride, when I set aside accusations and anger, tender exploration revealed beauty in the midst of the breaking. Beauty more detailed than when things were new.
I don’t know how this works, except God promises He is doing a work on the inside that far surpasses what we see happening on the exterior. While we go about our daily routines, while we make decisions, and circumstances beyond our control make some for us, as we look to God for wisdom and love, He quietly makes a thing of beauty on our inside. As disciples of Jesus, we have this promise:
But we are a colony[a] of heaven on earth as we cling tightly to our life-giver, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our humble bodies[b] and transfigure us into the identical likeness of his glorified body. And using his matchless power, he continually subdues everything to himself.[c] (Philippians 3:20-21 TPT)
Leaning into the New
You can lean into this quiet transformation, or you can fight it. But when life seems to fall apart, don’t chuck it all in the trash. Let the dust settle. Let the emotions come back to level ground. Take another look. Carefully, gently, slowly. Ask Jesus for eyes to see what He’s been doing in secret. Ask for understanding beyond the damage. Maybe, just maybe, it’s more beautiful on the backside.
- Could the misunderstanding with your son/daughter reveal new levels of growth?
- Maybe your marriage blew apart what wasn’t working to expose hidden joy you’d forgotten you shared.
- What if the loss of a job takes you back to your core, giving you a chance to frame your life another way?
- What if you discover that the truth you know is actually the beginning of a journey into deeper truths?
- Maybe you’ll recognize God’s grace and favor were there all along.
Pause and take another look. It’s worth it.