I cried a lot this week.
This may seem inconsequential, but I promise you it is anything but. I’ve never been a big crier. Sure, I cry more now that I have children, but I’ve never been that guy. Our oldest child started kindergarten on Tuesday. I’ve spent the entire summer distracting myself from reality, not fully accepting the milestone that was barreling towards me like a Corvette with a brick on the gas pedal. There was no stopping it.
Monday night, we were settling into a new bedtime routine. Making lunches, saying prayers, reading stories, and heading to bed a little early. Our youngest is cavity-inducingly sweet. She always seems to say the perfect thing at the perfect time, and this night was no different. After we put everyone to bed, Rylee kept getting up, coming out for something new each time. Water, a stuffed animal, her blanket was askew, whatever. I grew increasingly frustrated each time. By the fifth time I heard her door open, I was getting upset.
As I made my way back to her bedroom, I rounded the corner and found her kneeling beside her big sister’s bed, hands folded, praying for her Avery’s first day of kindergarten.
“Jesus, please help Avery to have the most fun day at kindergarten tomorrow and make lots of friends and have a happy time and after she’s done we will go get ice cream.”
There is so much beauty in this world. It’s just sometimes hard to see. In a world of Fox News and Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton and 24-hour media circus, we are inundated with fear. We are bombarded with all of the reasons that the world is going to Hell. Refugees are dying. People are starving. Politicians are lying. People kill police. Police kill people.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Watching my three year old get out of bed of her own volition, kneel beside her sister’s bed to cover her in prayer, caused me to look a the world in a different way this week. To be aware of what is happening, yes, but to look at the beauty. To notice the beautiful things. To notice the beautiful souls all around me. Can you see it? I know it can be tough.
It means we have to slow down and be present. It may mean putting our phones down, or getting off Twitter.
I saw an employee at the auto parts store installing wiper blades for a mom with a screaming newborn in the back seat.
I saw a man at the grocery store foot the bill for the woman in front of him who had run out of food stamp money.
I watched parents who had volunteered to coach their kid’s soccer teams, running around acting like maniacs getting kids excited about soccer.
I saw new Kindergarten teachers alleviate the fears of children who were terrified to start this new journey called school.
I got a text message from my wife saying she felt the 18-week-old child in her womb move for the first time this week.
I watched as my three year old held her best friend’s hand the whole way home from dropping their siblings off at school.
Even now, I’m sitting in my living room, typing these words, watching the 100-foot tall trees in my back yard sway back and forth in the wind, pointing towards the one who made them. Worshiping.
You will hear preachers, talking about how this nation is in trouble. How evil is running rampant. And there may be a shred of truth to this. There is evil in the world. Bad things are happening. But friends, let me assure you of something. For as much evil as there is in the world today, there is an infinitely more love and beauty and truth and goodness and hope.
Hope. Love. Joy. Beauty.
Will you be present enough to feel it? Will you take your eyes off of yourself long enough to see it? Will you fight the desire to dwell on the ugly parts of life, and instead commit to seeing the beauty?People are making music, directing movies, painting paintings, rebuilding cars, or coloring in a coloring book with their kids. People are pouring themselves out on the ones they love.
Maybe your life is hard right now. Maybe you’re hanging on by your fingernails. Maybe if you were honest with yourself, you don’t see beauty or hope or love.
Don’t give up. We need you.
We need words that only you can write, art only you can create, words of encouragement only you can speak. There is not another you that can do those things. There is only you. You’re all we have.
Modern theological scholars, Coldplay, said it best on their debut album, “Parachutes.”
We live in a beautiful world. Yea we do, yea we do.
And all God’s people said, “Amen.”