Monday, September 7, 2020

Beauty for Ashes

Beauty for ashes. This seems to have been the theme of my life. Not so much experiencing beauty for ashes, but wanting it. Longing for it. And rarely finding it. 

We all want a good redemption story. That is why we so often pass by the pain, minimize it, paper over it, in our hurry to get to the good stuff. The happy ending.

We tell the Ruths in our lives that God will bring a Boaz. We tell the Jobs that God will double what he has taken away. We trot out Romans 8:28 that God will work it all out for our good. We may rob those amid the ashes of the very thing they may need the most, our presence, all the while making promises that may not pan out in the end. 

It's not that God can't bring a Boaz. It's not that he can't give back in spades what he has taken away. It's not that he won't work things for our good. It is just that the beauty may not look like what we are looking for. 

It is well known that our society has a screwed up standard of beauty. We women, especially, know the pain and frustration and heartache of not measuring up to an impossible standard, a standard that may not even exist in the real world, given makeup and Photoshop. When those who love us tell us we are beautiful, we don't believe it because we long to be THAT kind of beautiful. 

What if...what if we ARE getting beauty for ashes and we just don't see it because we have been told that beauty only comes in one shape and size? What if beauty isn't in the Boaz but in the camaraderie of dear friends who know the loneliness well? What if beauty isn't in the getting back the goods but in sharing with one another when you have so little? What if the beauty is actually sitting with the mourning in the ashes and watching your heart of flesh soften and embrace the heart of your neighbor? 

What if we are missing the beauty all around us because we are looking for the wrong thing: a makeuped, Photoshopped, papered-over life that really is no life at all? 

Maybe it is time to rethink what beauty for ashes really looks like after all. I wonder what I've been missing. 

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