Brutiful: Stars in a Dark Sky
“The more I opened my heart to the folks in my circles the more convinced I became that life is equal parts brutal and beautiful. And/Both. Life is brutiful. Like stars in a dark sky. Sharing life’s brutiful is what makes us feel less alone and afraid. The truth can’t be stuffed down with food or booze or exercise or work or shopping for long. Hiding from the truth causes its own unique pain, and it’s lonely pain. Life is hard—not because we’re doing it wrong, just because it’s hard. It’s okay to talk, write, paint, or cry about that. It helps.”
Glennon Doyle Melton
As a dreamer, I often envision community, togetherness, and the transformation of humanity in idealistic ways, only to become disheartened and disillusioned when I encounter obstacles to the realization of the freedom and wholeness I imagine.
“Equal parts brutal and beautiful.” That is more true to my experience. The question is how can I live in the both/and instead of in the either/or vacillation from hopeful expectation to crushing disillusionment? How do I train my eyes to see what is good while acknowledging and accepting the messiness, the pain, the conflict that we must walk through to get to deeper community and greater justice?
The truth is, God’s redemptive plan for humanity has always taken into account our inadequacies and our tendency to make a mess of things. The Bible is full of hopeful examples, hopeful because I’m not the only one who has both great desires to participate in God’s work and great inadequacies that he miraculously uses to accomplish his plans.
When you dream, do you envision beauty as well as brokenness?
How can we hold onto our dream and move towards it while taking into account the reality of obstacles and the undeniable presence of our weaknesses and flaws?
What would it look like to create an updated vision of beauty and transformation that has grace for our humanity?
I see us sitting together. Not trying to fix each other’s pain, but hearing, empathizing.
Listening, slowing down, crying, and laughing.
Remembering his hope. Eventually, taking the next step forward.
That is beauty lived out in the face of life’s brutality.
True, part of this movement towards both/and ways of being is a very personal, inward journey only you can walk. Yet, we also need community to experience individual transformation. Like Glennon says, “Sharing life’s brutiful is what makes us feel less alone and afraid.” And the more she journeyed into community, the more she found both brutal and beautiful aspects of life unavoidable.
Often, I can find beauty amidst pain because I find someone who will go there with me. Parker J. Palmer in “A Hidden Wholeness” explains why we need each other as we seek to become more integrated, connected to our souls and truthful in our view of life’s beauty and pain. He writes: “Because we are communal creatures, we need each other’s support…to avoid an endless interior recycling of our dilemma, we need other people in whose presence we can speak our soul.” I love this. I’ve experienced this. We need people who invite the soul to “show up and offer us its guidance.”
To close today, take a moment to reflect on a question that resonates with you:
What are some safe spaces for your soul?
Who has given you the space to hear your soul speak up?
Whose life story do you identify with in Scripture? How does God work through his or her human brokenness to create something beautiful for the world?
What does this mean for your leadership? How can you prepare yourself to walk with others as they experience life’s brutiful?
What physical reminder in nature can remind you to embrace both pain and beauty for the way God uses both in his story of redemption? Maybe, like for Glennon, you will remember when you see the glimmering stars of a night sky?
For more on Glennon Doyle Melton, check out her inspiring blog: Momastery.
I love the question: how can you prepare yourself to walk with others as they experience life’s brutiful? It reminds me of the verse, “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” I’ve found that it’s difficult to be a friend who can do both- rejoice (without feeling jealous), and weep when the suffering goes long without an obvious end in sight. I want to pray that my roots go deep so that God can be my source in both. Thanks Sarah.
Alyssa, thank you for reflecting on that question. The verse you shared is such a beautiful picture of each side of the empathy spectrum: rejoicing and weeping with others. I love your heart for this and how that shines through in your relationships. May our roots go even deeper towards his stream so we can love like he does in each unique circumstance and relationship!
The question of who’s given me space to hear my soul speak up resonates deeply as I think back to one particular person who has grown to that place over years of friendship in my life. So thankful for her and that we can do that for each other.
I also agree that there is beauty in pain. Often times though, we are so embedded in the pain that we can’t see any beauty until someone comes alongside to speak God’s truth into our lives, help change our perspective, and assist us to see what was there all along.
Thanks for these thoughts today.
So beautiful to hear how your friendship has provided that space to hear your soul, journey through the pain, and even see the beauty in it. Yes! We need that unforced room to be known, the patience of someone lovingly being with us in our seasons of heartache. I find that when my trusted friends provide that space, I discover beauty and hope again, God’s love and presence expressed through that tangible support. Thank you for sharing, Susan!