Ugly Grace

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For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things. – Colossians 1:19-20

The wrinkled man in the wheelchair with the legs wrapped, the girl with her face punctured deep with the teeth marks of a dog, the mess of this world, and I see.

In German, it’s hübsch-hässlich. In French, d’un beau affreux. What the impressionist painter Paul Gauguin encapsulated as, “Le laid peut être beau” — the ugly can be beautiful.

The ugly-beautiful.

And I nod it soft. Yes, Father, You long to transfigure all, no matter how long it takes. You long to transfigure all.

In Christian circles, we elevate what we deem beautiful, endeavor to create spheres of pristine beauty, and perhaps rightly so, for “whatever is good, pure, lovely, think on these things.” But I wonder if maybe in the upside-down kingdom of God, what we regard as unlovely is, in Jesus, lovely. Because somewhere, underneath the grime of this broken world, everything has the radiant fingerprints of God on it. Seeing the world with Jesus’ eyes, we have the astonishing opportunity to daily love the unlovely into loveliness.

And, funny thing, I’m discovering that when I lean deep into my secrets, when I draw the lens up close to the ugly in my life, examining the weave, the texture, the shadows, it too is beautiful.

When I deeply see:

• bedsheets painted with highlighter?.. children live here!

• dead rose left too long in vase?.. lingering memories of a brother’s gift.

• Great-grandma’s wicker laundry basket overflowing in the mudroom?.. we had a full, rich weekend!

• vehicle souvenirs – a collection of shoes, Sunday school paper, Lego pieces?.. we’ll gather them up too.

• study table spread out with thoughts and ideas?.. we’re thinking now.

• a pile of tossed shoes on a shelf in the garage?.. worn days of a good summer.

• stack of tattered books?.. stories that have become real.

Aren’t these ugly things, in their own way, part of the gift list too?

God is always good and we are always loved… even when what He gives may appear ugly. [tweet this]

Up close, touching the unexpected comeliness in these domestic messes, I can’t help but wonder…

Does all the ugliness in my life look this beautiful?

It would, if I got closer.

Is that why God stays so close to us?

Lord, draw me nearer to the scratched situations in my life, the scarred places. Get me close enough to You to see the beauty in them.

* * *

Your Turn

Have you examined closely the ugly things in your life looking for God’s grace and beauty? Have you discovered in the ugly His beautiful gifts of grace? One of my favorite practices to get out of a funk is to search for beauty in my messy-beautiful life. How about you? Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear about the ugly beautiful in your life! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full


Ann Voskamp

Ann Voskamp is the wife of one fine, down-to-earth farmer; a book-reading mama to a posse of seven; and the author of the New York Times bestsellers One Thousand Gifts, which has sold more than one million copies, and The Broken Way. Named by Christianity Today as one of fifty women most shaping culture and the church today, Ann knows unspoken brokenness and big country skies and an intimacy with God that touches wounded places. Millions do life with her at her daily photographic online journal, one of the top 10 most widely read Christian sites: www.annvoskamp.com

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