Have you ever had a moment in life where you realised that, for whatever reason, you’d believed a lie?
Recently I had an ‘uh-ha’ moment where I suddenly understood that, somewhere along the journey, I had wrongly started equating beautiful with perfection.
I had started to believe that in order to have a beautiful home, it would have to be clean and tidy.
That to have a beautiful face, would mean no blemishes.
That to be a beautiful family would be never fighting or being grumpy with each other.
I started to believe that to speak Thai beautifully, I’d have to have my tones perfect and that to …
the list went on.
I was placing impossible, unrealistic expectations on myself and feeling disappointed and wondering why I never seemed to reach my goals.
All of a sudden though, I recognised the lie before me. And I was able to look around with fresh eyes to see the beautiful mess surrounding me and finally own the fact that...
My whole life was one big, beautiful mess!
Which lead me to ask, what if I gave myself permission to embrace my mess and see it as an opportunity for loving, learning and growing? What if my family had complete freedom to accept their mess as well? For them to really know that, no matter what mistakes they made, what risks they took or what chaos they found themselves in, it would be okay.
The other day I looked down at my t-shirt with its imperfectly ironed sleeves. To others it might not have looked that nice but when you know the story behind those sleeves, you’d think differently. It’s the story of a daughter who knew her mum had been unwell for the past week and saw the mountain of clothes in the room that had not yet been folded, ironed or put away. It’s the beautiful account of ten-year-old girl who, sensing someone else’s feelings of being overwhelmed, chose self-sacrifice, helpfulness and love.
Last week one of my children was particularly anxious on the way to school. The comments towards the rest of us were unfair and harsh. They were spoken out of fear and anger and yet through the loud words of insecurity came an unexpected silence by my other two children that I can only identify as ‘self control’. As we pulled into school, the anxious one muttered words of apology and repentance to which we all responded with forgiveness. Without my instruction, these children had demonstrated love and grace. The ranting and the angry words had been unpleasant but yet what came out of it was so beautiful to see.
A couple of months ago I began studying the Thai language again but this time I started to final grasp the concept of ‘beautiful attempts’ as apposed to ‘mistakes’… and ‘boldness’ as a substitute for ‘fear’… and ‘steps closer to my goal’ instead of ‘set backs’.
What if I could see all my mess and struggles as beautiful moments in disguise?
A week ago we sat around our table and tried a new tact. Instead of lecturing about not fighting, we acknowledged our disagreements and differences and we agreed on how to fight fair. How beautiful it is to see that, even the mess of misunderstanding, we can choose not to put each other down or threaten … or bring up past mistakes. How beautiful to work together instead of trying to tear down.
This week as I cringe at my dirty floors let me be reminded of the laughter, love, responsibility and fun it is to have a pet dog.
If I start to shy away from speaking Thai, let me see the beauty in trying, the humor in the mistakes and the resilience that I am developing in not giving up.
When my family starts to argue, may I choose to see the powerful beauty in grace, forgiveness, unconditional love and the gift of second-chances.
As I stare at my reflection in the mornings, may the tired eyes, the smile lines and the sunspots remind me of the beauty in aging, time spent laughing and hours enjoying the outdoors.
May the crinkled shirt, the bin not emptied and the pile of socks still not paired, remind me of the beauty in teaching my children responsibility and chores. And may it increase my patience and encouragement towards them.
So now I see. Beauty is not perfection.
Beauty is the every day mess of imperfect people learning, growing and accepting each other. It’s dust, wrinkles, dirty dishes, unmade beds and smelly dog bones.
But more importantly it’s laughter, gentleness, kindness, persistence … and so much more!
Maybe this week, by owning my own mess, I can give others the courage and freedom to accept theirs too!