When It’s Hard to See the Beauty

Even though the concept of the beauty of becoming resonates strongly in my heart, there are also those experiences that provide me with counter-examples. I recognize there are scenarios and contexts where I struggle to see the beauty, especially when I am right in the mix of the moment – at the peak of the frustrating, painful, or beyond my control. In those instances where my natural inclinations mean I have to continually exercise an act of the will to seek the beauty, I see fertile ground for learning – space to lean into God and allow Him to gently reveal ways in which He is calling me to grow so that I have greater capacity to see the beauty even when it is hard.

I can tell I have much more insight to gain over time related to this, but the following are two of my initial thoughts:

Recognize the why:

It can be helpful to acknowledge when it is hard to see the beauty and then take some time to ponder why. This can help us get to the roots, which can then point towards starting points for how to intentionally counteract, considerations for specific areas to pray through, or areas in which we need to seek counsel. For example, when it comes to parenting, sometimes it is hard for me to see the beauty while trying to accompany through struggles. I desire to identify the issue, problem-solve, and take action to reach a solution.

Yet, reality often requires a much less direct path and my will not aligning to the will of one of my children – the solutions I propose not being enacted. As a result, I am praying through the natural inclinations related to layers beyond my control and what I am called to do moment to moment – when to speak and when to be quiet, and when to jump in to provide support and when to step back. I am considering ways that I might be getting in the way or that my words and actions are counter-productive.

It is messy, challenging work. Someday, I will be able to look back and easily see the beauty (both for my own journey and those of my girls), but I am not yet able to authentically do that in all circumstances, especially when there is so much unknown with how it will all unfold. In the meantime, I desire to grow in being able to better see the beauty in the moment.

Growing in trust:

Often, when it is hard to see the beauty, I have the knowledge that it is all within God’s providential plans, hope that eventually all will be resolved, and understanding that God can support coming out stronger on the other side based on the challenges (as opposed to a quick and easy solution). As a result, I am drawn towards persevering and embracing the pathway that will ultimately lead to the greatest growth. Yet, it is difficult to actually maintain a disposition that reflects that consistently.

In her diary, St. Faustina Kowalska said, “I accept joy or suffering, praise or humiliation with the same disposition. I remember that one and the other are passing” (p. 210 – notebook 1, 485). We know that canonized Saints have exemplified heroic virtue. Seeing gaps between where we are currently at and the example of the Saints lives, provide insight into ways that we can grow. We can start to then consider how different experiences in life provide opportunities to practice the more virtuous response, rather than our natural inclination, more fully over time.

In the case of St. Faustina’s quote, I can draw from my labor experiences – another example of when it has been easy for me to see the beauty afterward but more of a struggle to fully embrace the pain and uncertainty of how it will all unfold leading up to labor and in the moment – in order to “get” what St. Faustina is saying. I know that contractions are passing and serve a purpose to work towards receiving my baby in my arms and the great relief that another labor has passed. In the day to day of parenting, I can expect that like contractions, there will be moments when everything appears to be going smoothly and moments of tension and challenge. Also like contractions, I won’t be able to control when the tensions appear, the intensity, or the duration; however, I can learn to have a better mindset to navigate them. Increasing trust in God, is one great asset in order to be able to accept all of life’s circumstances with peace.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. What are the circumstances in your life in which you recognize it is hard to see the beauty? What do you perceive as being at the root of why it is hard? What insight does that give you to intentionally progress towards greater growth?
  2. What are the circumstances in your past that were hard to see the beauty in the moment? How have you grown based on those experiences – both in the moment and with the passage of time? How might that growth support you in navigating new experiences that stretch you or challenge you in similar ways?
  3. What might you take to prayer? Which layers would be beneficial to also seek counsel and support from others as you navigate through the experiences?
  4. Which people inspire you to grow based on the way they lived out/are living out their lives? Where can you identify opportunities to practice virtue exemplified by them with a recognition that growth is a process, rather than being perfect from the first attempt?

Copyright 2020 Amanda Villag√≥mez // Quote from St. Faustina in Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska: Divine Mercy in My Soul // Photo by Eila Lifflander on Unsplash

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

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