Let’s be honest, life can be brutal. Sometimes it feels like every morsel of goodness has been sucked off the bone and you are left with nothing to nourish you. This is how I felt when my journey toward goodness began. I had been through a devastating experience that left me wondering if there was any good left in the world at all. Everything that I had trusted and believed in had betrayed me. The center of my life, my faith, had been shaken to its very core. I was left feeling abandoned, hopeless, and suspicious of everyone.
I can remember having to pull my car to the side of the road for fear I would wreck if I kept driving, while my young children quietly watched me sob. My husband was going through the same gut wrenching drama, and we would often just sit and stare at each other in a daze of brokenhearted confusion. During those days it was difficult to even get out of bed.
When you are in this place, hoping in anything seems like a luxury reserved for the very rich and the very lucky. Believing in anything seems downright naïve. As for beauty, the world was all shades of gray – not a spot of color anywhere. Depression was my daily companion and hopelessness my bedfellow.
It seemed there was nothing to be done, and yet to go on this way was resigning myself to life as a zombie. In an effort to “try,” I took a certain sort of challenge. It had come to my attention that some rare and unusual individuals actually believed that it was healthy to take deep notice of beauty on a regular basis. This struck me as odd because, in my mind, beauty was somewhat superfluous. I had never really given it much thought. I appreciated beauty on a surface level – loved a pretty painting or a blooming tree, but I took no thought of it as medicinal or even terribly important. Being productive, resourceful, useful, intelligent – these were important. Beauty was just “skin deep” in my mind.
For some reason I accepted the challenge to look for beauty. I think my confidence in mankind was so shaken that I had far less fear of beauty than of brains. So, I started. Everyday I would watch for something that was beautiful to me, and I would really focus on it for a moment. I would look at it and challenge myself to “see” it – to really take it in. It began for me with the obvious, things in nature, like trees, flowers, and landscapes. I started to enjoy the game and eventually I challenged my family and friends to play along. At dinner I would say, “What was your beautiful thing today?” My family began to look forward to sharing their collection of beautiful things. It was wonderful to see them cross the boundary of beauty in nature and begin to share things like seeing someone be kind or show tenderness. Beauty began showing up in all kinds of places. It was as fun as any Easter egg hunt to find things that brought us a smile and a little joy.
Little by little I could feel myself softening inside. I could feel my heart changing because I was focusing on something that made my interior life better, brighter, more joyful – even if only a little bit. Now, the pursuit of beauty has blossomed into a full pallet of inspiration for me. I diligently seek it in the most random places, and most often I find it. It has been and still is transforming me. Why don’t you take the beauty challenge and see what it does for you.
“Twigs of beauty make for a nest of goodness.”
A “Good” Idea :
Take the Beauty challenge and encourage friends and family to join in by simply asking, “What was your beautiful thing today?” Write down your observations in a little journal and keep them as treasures for your heart. Take note of how your view of life changes over time. To those of you feeling discouraged or depressed, we encourage you to let beauty in as much as you can. Focus on the little bits of goodness you can find around you. If you look hard, you will find them.