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The Beauty Of Reality

My thoughts were anything but peaceful at that moment. I was in my car (so incredibly late) driving to work. I tore through the last street to take a left. The light changed to amber, and the Toyota in front of me decided that meant to immediately stop. So now I was drumming the wheel and glaring at the “I brake for leprechauns” bumper sticker. I glanced over at the green space on my left and saw a girl. Despite the traffic driving past, this girl was sitting in the grass with her arms propped behind her, gazing at the sky.

When was the last time I got to dream like that? When was the last time a smile had hung on my face simply because of the imaginations that I was enjoying and not merely because the coffee that morning had been unusually strong? I couldn’t remember how it felt to read a book for fun all of a sudden, or to lie in the grass, hanging somewhere between dreams and reality, while solving not only my own issues, but also the rest of the world’s problems. I used to love to populate my musings with fairy tales and dreams that were preceded with the phrase, “Once upon a time, a certain red-haired Canadian …”

It struck me that I was not living. This: the rushing, deadlines, marketing plans, self-important meetings, worry over aforementioned work, rushed Bible studies and stumbled entries into my bed at night were not what made my life worth living. And yet this is the reality we face. Is this all there is? A drab existence punctuated with great moments? There are wonderful times in our lives that we treasure, but they seem too far between to be considered the reality that we live in.

I have been realizing the necessity of beauty in my everyday life. There are not always enough great moments to compensate for countless sleepless nights. But there are rewards in transferring your castle in the air to your apartment and your dreams of fascinating people into the daily life that you lead—the joy in what the Romantics called “the glorification of the common man.” The sacredness of work. The joy of existence. The simple pleasures that can be gained from life, not due to expensive cars or powerful money, but the compensating moments found in a quiet conversation with your best friend. The laughter of a pure heart. A quiet half-hour spent sprawled on your back in the grass. The common and the ordinary can take on a presence of beauty in their simplicity. And suddenly your thoughts are fresh again, your laugh is more frequent, your emotions are more ready and your sense of awe in things of beauty is regained.

When my husband first entered full-time ministry as a youth pastor, we both got caught up in the common ailment of a pastor—too darn busy. After six months, we could hardly remember what the other looked like. We had engagements every night of the week, Brian was working more than 70 hours a week, and I’d work full time, then come home to rush around every evening. We were over-programmed and under-spiritual.

We had a family meeting—just the two of us—in the living room. And we decided to cut back. We simply did not like how our life looked. We refused to buy into the idea that because my husband is a pastor, his family should come second to the Almighty Ministry. Now my husband is home four nights out of seven. I decided to concentrate on helping in the high school rather than try to do it all—junior high, high school and college. I was working full time in my own world, so this even gave me the house to myself for a couple nights a week—a requirement for this quintessential pseudo-hermit bookworm. After just two weeks, we felt more balanced. I felt my vision was restored. Why? Because I had to time to enjoy the life we had built together. We felt more connected to the Lord, to each other and to ourselves again.

It gave us back something vital to beauty—time.

Taking time to enjoy small pleasures is essential to your sanity. Without it, your thirst for “a better life” will never be quenched. Yours will be a life spent searching for better things, while contentedness awaits you here in your now. Now is the time to enjoy those small things.

Are you a cynic? Are you someone who wallows in their exhaustion and looks for fuel for their complaints? Each of us knows of the imperfections that exist in our lives both individually and corporately as a Church, a people, a company, a family, but will we be content to shuffle with the crowd, comparing busy schedules, headaches, trying to feel more important because we are busy?

This is not ignoring your problems or even the things that drive you crazy. My point is that neither should we ignore the things that make us thank God for this precious life.

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I have a tendency to withdraw and become critical when I am stressed. It helps to remember what I love about life. I love the way that people’s eyes crinkle in the corner when they laugh. I love to watch two people hold hands. I love to see people reading books that have nothing to do with self-help or business strategies. I love the smell of coffee, the coolness of my sheets when I get into bed at the end of the day, stretching in the morning, sharing a pillow with my husband, music that brings back sweet memories and slow winds on cool days. I love the idea of being familiar with inspiration that is based on the simple wonderful pleasure of life.

Life should inspire you. Living in reverence of your life and the simple things that bring you joy will make your life better, will refresh your spirit and strengthen those around you. Free your imagination from 2004 planning and enjoy the experiences that God has blessed us with today. You will find more reasons to love God by focusing on the blessings and adoring touches of His presence that you see around you.

[Sarah Styles Bessey is a displaced Canadian, now living with her youth pastor husband in Texas.]

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