It was a few months into the global pandemic and her husband left her for another woman. With a wounded heart and two young children holding onto each of her hands, she tried to muster up the strength to move forward.
Then came her cancer diagnosis. Suddenly the path ahead became a mountain to scale.
It was as if she was traveling through an ash heap of burnt up memories, promises and lost dreams.
Surgery, radiation, ongoing treatment and sorrow filled her days and I imagine trying to be strong for her children only made the load heavier.
She’s a woman of faith, a photographer friend who gave me permission to share a little bit of her story here.
She set her camera aside for awhile. She told me that she didn’t have the strength to pick it up anymore and her passion for photography was gone. Her brokenheart didn’t have room for it anymore.
But God. But grace.
He’s been showing her that beauty and sadness can coexist. He’s given her strength and the desire to pick up her camera again. She’s sharing her art and the beauty she creates but sometimes the titles or captions on her photographs reveal her not so beautiful emotions … her unseen wounds.
I wrote a comment on one of her instagram posts when the sorrow of her words didn’t match the beauty of her photograph. “This is art (I wrote)…when beauty and sadness occupy the same space. It is possible to have both together.”
And it’s true. Isn’t it?
I thought about how that could be a metaphor for life. In the deepest of sadness there will always be times of encouragement. It can come from God in many ways but one way is through the beauty we see around us and even through the beauty we create.
I’ve noticed that most of us have an innate desire to create. That takes on different forms but think about yourself. What are your interests? Do you like to cook, bake, paint, draw, decorate, garden, craft, tackle home improvement projects … ? Also trouble shooting and coming up with new ways to handle a difficult situation falls under the umbrella of creativity as well.
We were designed by ‘The Creator’ and we were created in His image. Therefore, we must have those same qualities in us. Right?
I think we were all designed to be appreciators too. When we notice the beauty we see in our environment and appreciate it, we become people of gratitude. Writing down something we’re grateful for in a notebook or a journal at the end of the day can help shift our focus from our problems and alleviate some of the stress we’re feeling. This is especially helpful at the end of a hard day.
I was happy to see my brave friend capturing beauty again and creating art. Her sadness isn’t gone, her emotional and health struggles are still there but she’s managing to scale her mountain while trying to keep her mind on …
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things. Philippians 4:8
Seeking the good through our trials, being able to see the beauty in spite of our battles, and trusting that the mountains we scale will produce spiritual strength and ultimate growth will help us persevere. The outcome …the strength; the growth … that’s a wonderful gift from God. He recycles our ash heaps and gives us beauty.
That’s grace. That’s mercy.
A Jewish prayer/blessing I heard recently and find myself repeating often lately: Blessed are you, LORD our God, King of the Universe, through whose word everything comes into being.