While traveling today I read an article in the U.S. Airways Magazine by Brion O’Connor about a topic I barely remember. It included the story of an artist, Fritz Drury, who studies and understands beauty better than most. He spent some time with the author’s brother, and they were discussing what makes something beautiful, which is a concept very hard to define.
They came to agree upon the one theme for defining beauty: contrast.
From mountains to oceans, to paintings to performing art, contrast is what awes us and creates the feeling of beauty in so many cases. Sometimes it’s as simple as the contrast from our daily view, something so different than what we’ve grown accustomed to, that we can’t help but see it as beautiful. But we might not have seen it’s beauty otherwise.
Contrast is where we find beauty in life too, where God shows us His wonders.
Watching an adult walk down the street is no miracle and is hard to see beauty in when you see thousands of the same every day. But learn that the young man walking down the street in front of you is recovering from a stroke that partially paralyzed him, and that loved ones feared he may never walk again, and you see beauty in those steps.
Hearing a story on the news of a person found deceased is sad and far from beautiful, when you know that someone has lost their loved one. But learn that the family has been searching for 11 years and celebrates the selfless volunteers who gave their time and talent, and never gave up, and you see beauty in the pain.
Reading a message from a woman who is getting ready for work seems mundane and ordinary. But learn that she had been out of work for over a year and desperate, and you see beauty in that every day task.
Seeing a mom watch her son play at the park, just like a thousand other moms is forgotten in an instant. But learn that she has tears in her eyes because her son is playing with other kids, and feels typical for a few minutes despite his disability, and you’ll see beauty.
God’s work is best displayed in the contrasts.
Every few months I get upgraded to first class on a flight. I try to hide my excitement and act like I have that special treatment all the time. I look around at people who really do fly first class regularly, and realize that they aren’t enjoying it nearly as much as me. They’re used to it. It’s only so cool when you’re used to the back of the plane begging for water.
Despite that, I still want first class all the time. Despite the beauty of the contrast from struggles to overcoming, I still want no struggles. But God’s work is best seen in the contrasts, I remind myself time and time again.
Our two big valleys for God to use are Michael’s health and everything that comes with that (financial challenges, emotional challenges, logistical challenges), and our ongoing search for Austin.
Right now, the only real contrasts in our life is the difficulty of circumstances vs. the attitude to persevere and find Hope no matter what. But I keep believing that one day, the contrast God shows in our life will be that much greater and show His work that much more.
I will keep believing.