Beauty in our Brokenness

What do we see when we look at difficulties in our lives or the lives of others?

I went to a wedding last weekend, beautiful affair, a family friend’s son got married. Both the bride and groom were our kids’ friends and great young people. We knew many of the other young people there. It was a perfectly typical June wedding except for one thing; we were uncharacteristically early (I blame my wife). However, a funny thing happened while I sat there in the barn venue they’d chosen waiting for the ceremony to start.

I noticed the chandelier. (Nice juxtaposition there, a chandelier in a dairy barn) It was fairly elaborate as chandeliers go, I suppose. However it wasn’t the size or the irony I began to appreciate, it was the light. More specifically, it was how the light emanating from the bulbs at the top began as a soft white but became full of color after it went through the pieces of cut glass hanging down below.

The refracted light was full of yellows and reds and blues that even a partially-colorblind guy like me could appreciate. The fully ROYGBIV (thank you Miss Larsen and Senior Physics) was on display and it started me thinking which is always a dicey proposition.

Our lives, our impact and our origins are a little like the light coming out of those bulbs. We’re oftentimes clear and direct and singular in purpose. We light things up and serve a specific function however our singularity of focus ensures our one-dimensionality. We’re good but the color we possess isn’t discernible by others. It’s only when we are bent, changed and directed elsewhere, like the light going through the random pieces of glass that our beauty comes out. If our light comes through a perfectly shaped bulb we’re useful. If our light travels through a mishmash of different things, people, experiences and events our beauty is released. So the question partly becomes, will we allow our light, ourselves, to go through the mess and release what’s inside? Or will we insist on remaining rigid to our self-determined purpose. Only we can answer that question personally but how about the way we see other people?

See, I was so impressed by the effect of the chandelier on the light that I snapped a picture of it from my seat. What I saw in the photo both disappointed and enlightened me. There was no color. The only thing the camera picked up was the white light. The broad spectrum coming from under the chandelier was completely lost to the camera’s lens and yet I knew the color was there. I could see it with my own eyes but the reproduction, even digitally, was flat, white and functional and absent of beauty. It left me wondering how much the camera’s lens was like us sometimes. How often do we see someone as merely the one-dimensional, functional person we’ve decided they are? How often are we unable or unwilling to see someone’s beauty shining through their mess? How quickly do we judge and put them in a box or label them? Just like the light coming from those bulbs our beauty isn’t released until it comes through some chaos. Our full spectrum is unseen and unknown unless we go through some experiences, some events that alter our path. But when we look at others do we see the pieces of cut glass, the wreckage of someone else’s life or do we see the beauty that’s been set free because of it? I hope it’s the latter for their sake and for yours.

Part of our mission here on earth should be to see the wonder in our neighbor’s triumph through tribulation. It should also be to appreciate our own difficulties that move our character, our personality into new dimensions. That stuff you’re going through? Embrace it. It brings forth your beauty.

I blog about all kinds of lifey stuff at giffinlife.com.

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