When I was young, I was startled and somewhat mortified by a comment my sweet grandmother (whose name happened to be Lorna 🙂) made to me in a casual conversation. She had no idea that this conversation would be replayed over and over again in my mind for decades. One day she was reminiscing aloud about her mother, and she said that she remembered when her mother went to the nursing home, and she had made and kept a promise to her to shave her chin once a week. I felt violated. What was she even talking about? Why in the world would a woman need her chin shaved? The whole conversation was disturbing to say the least!
Fast forward to my life now. I get it…I mean, I REALLY get it. I travel nowhere without a good pair of tweezers and a “tinkle” tool. (See above picture) I never know when a stray black hair may want to debut on my chin. It’s annoying and ugly…and since this unwanted hair growth is no respecter of time or place, I must always be ready to slip off to the bathroom and take care of business. One of my biggest hopes now is that Mara will have the guts and grace to shave my chin once a week should I ever become unable to do it for myself. That’s a huge burden to put on Mara, but I truly believe Mara will be able to lather me up and cut to the chase (or chin) one day because of the heroic example set by my sweet grandmother!
This leads me to an unfortunate incident that happened earlier this week involving my tinkle tool. I use these tinkle tools about once a month to “dermaplane” my entire face. That really just means scrape the blade “ever so gently and carefully” across the skin of your face to remove fine hair and dead skin. It works beautifully…most of the time. But I had a slip of the wrist Wednesday night and accidentally shaved off the center of my left eyebrow. (See above picture)
I wasn’t surprised when it happened; if you are going to use these tools, you must know that there is always a chance for a tragic tinkle accident. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too obvious, but it was the first thing Jimmy and Mara noticed Thursday morning. Of course Ryan didn’t notice, but I’m not sure Ryan would notice if a woodpecker made a nest in my hair and laid eggs. (That is sometimes annoying, but one day if I’m ever in a nursing home with a full beard, I will cherish the fact that Ryan won’t even notice.)
Mara was quick to point out that I could not just walk around looking like I belonged in a gang until my left eyebrow grew back. That left me pondering what my options were and considering a pirate patch. Lucky for me, she volunteered to fix my left eyebrow with brow paint each morning for the foreseeable future. She is a real sweetheart, but mostly she just couldn’t run the risk of being seen with a woman whose left eyebrow was shaped like an S.
This event got me to thinking about how we always “hide” the ugly in our lives in some form or fashion. For instance, most of my friends have Snapchat. I can barely keep up with Facebook, so I don’t want to mess with another social media outlet, but I love the filters on Snapchat. I have even been known on occasion to take a pic and send it to a friend to “filter me up” to make me look younger, tanner, prettier, more presentable…blemish-free if you will.
I’m just vain enough to enjoy this…but just real enough to question what it means for the stains and imperfections in our lives that we can’t successfully hide.
Look at the big picture above and you will see an unfiltered snapshot of our house…but that is not what I see at all. Look again and you will see a dark stain in the road. That stain has obscured my vision for 440 days. That is the stain from the wreck. That is where my son took his last breath trapped under a Polaris. That stain changed my life forever. That stain cannot be filtered. That stain cannot be washed away. That stain cannot be hidden. That stain can never be made beautiful by man.
So what is a mother supposed to do with a stain like this in a world where we are programmed to hide or filter everything that is not beautiful or perfect? How will this piece of my life ever be anything but ugly?
And this is when I realize that God is never fooled by filters. He sees all, knows all, and has grace for all. He longs to help me deal with this stain. He longs to help you deal with your stains. I don’t think He ever intended for us to work so hard to hide them.
I’m not sure it is beneficial to be able to filter away every flaw and imperfection. It is unrealistic and therefore leaves us with no knowledge of how to cope when things in life are unfixable. God wants so much more for us than that! He wants us to offer these things up to him so he can make something beautiful out of the ugliness.
God is not shocked by your “ugly.” He has seen ugly before. He watched as the world crucified His Son because Jesus refused to be “filtered and fixed” to fit into this world.
Maybe there is much to learn from the “ugly” that Jesus endured on the cross.
Maybe, some of the most important moments of our stories won’t be pretty either.
We serve a God who excels in making beauty from ashes.
He does not use filters or encourage hiding; instead He teaches us that through being raw and real and WILLING to face the ugly in our lives, He can and will bring about restoration.
“For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. Your restoration is what we pray for.”
2 Corinthians 13:9
It is always easier to hide or filter our junk than it is to deal with it, but there is no healing in that. Healing comes when we face the ugly, offer it to God and believe He is faithful to restore us and make beauty from ashes.
I doubt that I will EVER see that stain on the road in front of my house as beautiful, but I am trusting my Savior to make something beautiful come from those ashes. It is a promise to me from Him…so I will wait without hiding and walk out this grief without filters. Surely He can do something with this ugly stain that matters for my heart and for His Kingdom.
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3
And great oaks don’t have to hide or use filters to be beautiful!
Meet me in the confessional:
1. I am still going to use filters on some of my pictures. Especially since I will more than likely have a full beard one day…I need to look presentable while I can.
2. I am also completely unwilling to give up my tinkle tool. Some things just make life better for everyone when used carefully. 😜 No one, especially Jimmy, is ready to see me parading around looking like I belong on Duck Dynasty. 😊