I love me a good sunrise or sunset.
My ONLY regret about the house we bought here in MN is that we can’t see the sunrises or sunsets very well. Homes and trees block the majority of our view, so while I get glimpses, I never get the full picture sitting inside my home.
But there is the rare occasion that I am bringing kids to school or heading home from church on Wednesday nights that I get to take in the beauty of a sunrise/sunset in its full glory.
I connect with God through His creation. There is something special about seeing the colors change across the sky, so brief and fleeting, but realizing the promise that they always return with each new day.
There are moments when I wish I could take time and just chase sunsets, every day, seek out that beauty and pause to take it all in. Because often times I struggle to see any light at all…
I have battled with depression for probably longer than I’d like to admit.
I do a pretty good job of disguising it for those I come in contact with. I can fix myself up and pretend that I have got it all together. But the banter that happens in my head is anything but put together and lovely.
It is often negative and oppressive, filled with comparison and littered with envy and jealousy. I want what I think you have and have to fight to see the many (obvious) blessings in my own life. I know that I have so many things to be grateful for but sometimes the knowing isn’t enough, it seems.
Recently I got a book in the mail that has helped me feel less alone in this struggle, and also has set a path in motion to my seeking out the lovely in my day…even if it is small or seemingly insignificant.
In her book Looking for Lovely , Annie writes this: “I had an addiction. For over twenty years I had taken all the pain and hurt and pushed it straight down my throat. For as much as I read the Bible, sat in Sunday school, and made church my second home, I wish I’d understood, “His ears are open for their cries for help” (Psalm 34:15) Instead of feeling any of the suffering, instead of pressing through the pain and taking it to God, trusting that He heard me, I escaped to anywhere that would feed me, and I stuffed my emotions down by covering them in layers of food.” (p.37)
In my book I have those lines underlined and where she has food, I crossed it out and wrote in anger. I could also have written shopping or any thing that I set out to do that fills me up and makes me “feel” more valuable…host a party so I get praise, work on the “perfect” blog post so I can encourage others and bolster my self esteem…the list could go on and on.
Instead of dealing with the heart of what’s at the center of the darkness I feel inside, I run to fill the emptiness with things that never fully satisfy.
In her journey to be “rebuilt”, Annie knew that “she needed the strength of heart to hold on until God could complete the work He had begun.” (p.47)
This rebuilding is hard, laborious work isn’t it? If you have walked through a time of self discovery yourself, you know that it is often painful and slow. There are days that I feel like I have taken several steps forward only to find myself right back in the muck of my old ways, full of mistakes.
In these times I need to take just a little time to focus on the lovely around me. A beautiful sky, the sound of the rain falling, a clean closet or some one on one time with one of my kids.
I loved what Annie had to say about it: “It’s not about pretending everything is beautiful and nothing is ugly and you have no questions or doubts and picking out the beautiful in your everyday is going to protect you from anything hurting ever. It’s about feeling the pain, letting the suffering be a part of your life…because there is beauty in choosing to feel that pain, in calling hurt what it is, and not pretending that everything is okay.” (p.76)
Ultimately I want to be able to be okay not being okay.
There is a freedom in being able to be transparent and honest, and I want that in my life. I want to recognize where I am still stuck, take responsibility for the things that are mine and find contentment and joy even if my life isn’t picture perfect.
Annie found that in many deep and meaningful ways. Her book is filled with both struggle and progress. As raw and honest as they come, she has walked this hard path and offers hope for those of us on a similar journey.
“It’s not that my life is all that different; it’s just that I see it differently. So it feels like a brand-new life.” (p.172)
So I am going to keep chasing sunsets, I will paint my fingernails a fun color and enjoy the little things that bring me joy. And I will also continue to allow God to refine me and my character. Allowing myself to be humbled because it brings healing. I don’t have to run from the hard, or stuff it away, or fill it with things of this world. Instead I will seek the lovely through it all and trust that even if my circumstances haven’t changed, that one day I too will begin to see differently as well.
I received an advance copy of Annie’s book as a part of her launch team. I LOVED this book and so I have a copy to share here with one of my readers. I think every woman needs to read this book – so leave a comment to be entered and I will pick the winner on Friday April 8th!