I’m remembering my friend Kyle today. I don’t know how he did it, but he seemed to live more fully, more deeply than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s been 15 years today since his death. I know it’s a natural tendency to make someone better or worse after their deaths, but all of my friends who knew him felt the same way about him, so I think it really was just him. He had a spark in his eyes and life in his laughter. When you got to know him, you knew he was really alive. He somehow grasped the age-old concept that life is a gift and wove it into his personality. I want to live like he did. I want to live like I am truly alive.
“Love God, embrace beauty, and live life to the fullest.” That’s what Kyle always said. Live life to the fullest. To YOUR fullest. We must find the beauty in our lives so that we can suck the marrow out of this life. To get and give every bit we can while we’re here.
Choosing Life… it’s the whole point of Finding Beauty. It’s about being ALIVE, truly living, and learning to love life even through its struggles, through pain and fear and knowing that you are absolutely, quite possibly losing your mind. We find beauty because life is short. Life is GOOD, even when it’s awful. There is goodness in feeling the cold wind on your face, noticing a fragile flower break through concrete, and hearing the giggles and laughter of your family even if you cannot participate at the moment.
If you’re reading this, you have probably already learned the hard way that life is over too quickly, like the strike of a match: so full of light and then poof… gone in an instant. So maybe through great trauma and grief, you’ve decided never to love again, never to try again, never to trust again, or never to feel so deeply again. I’ve done it myself. I’ve stopped living life to its fullest. I’ve given up on finding community. I’ve given up on ever being fully healed. I’ve given up on trusting anyone.
You know what giving up did for me? It made me numb. It made me lonely, sad and hopeless. If you’re there now, I can’t pretend we’re going to change your mind here. It’s up to you and you alone.
Living life to its fullest and finding beauty in the terrible parts of life is complicated. You will have your heart ripped right out of your chest by living this life. You will have moments so full of pain that you will forget how to breathe. You will feel alone and isolated by your circumstances. You will believe there is nothing left for you.
But you will be wrong.
I changed my story. Here’s how.
I scroll through my memories to capture the times that made loving people and living with my whole heart worthwhile. I think of the times I forced my roommates to dance and run in the rain with me (or they forced me). I see the quiet rise and fall of the chests in my children while they sleep. I hear their laughter, their giggles, their crazy escapades. I see the look of kindness in my husband’s eyes that tells me he is still in love with me, even if we’ve been fighting.
I flashback to the time I walked out of church during my favorite worship song because I couldn’t stand the pain anymore and turned my face up to the rain, crying out to God asking “WHY!?” and felt his presence more closely in the wind and rain than in the church sanctuary.
I picture the beauty of the rainforest, the ocean, the stars, and the moon.
Yes, there are other memories not as lovely, but these aren’t the ones that draw my focus. I intentionally draw my gaze to the ones that keep me living fully. These are the ones that draw me back in for more life and love. These are the ones I CHOOSE to recall when I struggle to remember how to keep moving forward. It doesn’t mean I avoid the negative images (it’s important to grieve these fully), but it does mean I intentionally look for the good things when I need a little lift.
You likely have a lot of terrible memories, things you would rather forget. We tend to chew on these memories the most. Instead of clinging to these though, hold fast to the ones that bring you life. If you can’t think of any, MAKE some. Find the beauty around you and start to live again. To the fullest.
I know what it’s like to be alive in all the ways that people can see, but dead inside. I think because I’ve experienced the weight of this internal death, real life started to feel so much lighter and buoying once I grasped onto it. I’d like to get even better at LOVING life, like Kyle did.
In finding beauty, I have been reminded to love God (even through sorrow and suffering), to embrace beauty (even though sometimes I struggled to find it), and to live life to its fullest (because life is such a gift). Because of this reminder, I am hopeful. I am joyful. And I can see the goodness of God through it all. Thanks, Kyle, for helping me see more clearly.
Can you see the goodness of God? Where can you find beauty and choose life in your circumstances?
Deuteronomy 30:19 (NLT) – “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!”