By Alison Brook Schwirzer
I love pretty things. I browse Pinterest for home decor ideas and use pretty filters on Instagram just as much as the next person. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being happy and having a good life, but sometimes life just isn’t as perfect as home decor on Pinterest or heavily filtered selfies on Instagram.
Here’s a story from someone close to me whose life got pretty ugly:
I had every reason to succeed in life: a trust fund for my schooling, two wholesome christian parents who loved me, and an amazing big sister who adored me. If I had followed the plan laid before me, by now I would be a professional with a career and possibly have a family of my own. However, some really bad choices led me elsewhere.
It all started in grade school. I was young, impressionable, looking for fun, and just wanted to have friends. At first I experimented with minor substances, but it was never enough. Eventually I found myself knee deep in major drug addiction, chasing highs that almost cost me my life more than once. I was sent, on several different occasions, to various programs to help me get clean. Most recently I attended an inpatient rehab in south Florida.
As a young girl experimenting with drugs, did I think all of this could happen to me? No way, I thought I was invincible! Truth is, addiction can happen to anyone. It doesn’t see race, age, status, or religious upbringing. It doesn’t know any boundaries. Once it finds you it wants you dead, simply put. But lucky for me, God doesn’t see obstacles or boundaries either.
I have been clean for 16 months now and I regularly attend NA meetings. I’m getting my life together, but there are still consequences I am dealing with. (For example, I just found out there’s a warrant out for my arrest in another state). Because of God and my support group, I have found a beautiful life. Its not perfect, but its all mine. It’s been preserved for a purpose and I’m looking forward to seeing what that purpose might be. I try not to regret the past because, had it not been for this beautiful disaster, I wouldn’t have been humbled. I would never have seen my need for a power greater than myself. With that brokenness, I have had the opportunity to lend a helping hand to the sick and suffering. My struggle with addiction has given me an opportunity to develop inner beauty, and for that I am forever grateful.
Yes, sometimes life is ugly, but ugly can be pretty too. Why do you think distressed furniture is so popular on Pinterest right now? Why do you think there are filters for Instagram that give photos a gritty look? It’s because “ugliness” or imperfection can add character and deepen a person. Yet those are very silly examples of beauty in the ugliness. What about the sparkly snow in the deadness of winter? What about the skin defects we call beauty marks?
God, in his love makes beautiful things out of dust. “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Gen. 2:7). God is in the business of bringing to life the things in our lives that are dead, scarred, and broken. Whatever part of you that you feel is too ugly for God, lay it as his feet today. You may be surprised with what he can make out of it. [Is. 61]