How Beauty Comes from Pain

The fragrance from crumpled petals.

It wasn’t my church, and it wasn’t my people, but a friend told me what happened that Sunday after church. Half a century later, I still remember. I remember the beauty that came from the fragrance of crumpled petals. Beauty from pain!

The older lady stopped to speak to a group of girls standing outside church one Sunday morning. A woman of graciousness and character, she moved with assuredness and certainness. Grace knew who she was and to Whom she belonged.

Some things had happened in their church and folks were still reeling from the aftershock of pain. Relationships were strained and restoration seemed bleak.

Did Grace perhaps sense the discouragement of these teenage girls as she stopped to speak to them? Over a few minutes’ span, she chatted with them about day-to-day things. Nobody mentioned the pain or what had happened. Yet the elephant was there in the room. The one thing that brought pain; the pain that nobody knew what to do with, the pain about which nobody knew how to pray anymore. Could beauty possibly come from such pain?

Better, Not Bitter

Finally, Grace spoke to the experience they all were avoiding. “I want you girls to know I am praying that God can use the things that have happened to make you better and not bitter.” That was all.  She turned and walked away.

The girls knew the hurt Grace had experienced over the years: torn family relationships, children who walked away from God, and the pain of strained relationships. One would think, from watching Grace, that life had been easy for her. She was always sweet, kind, and gentle. Her face belied the nights she had stayed awake to pray for her wayward child, the days she had cried for answers when no answers came, and the years her prayers had gone unanswered. Yet, she stayed the course and she kept praying.

Instead of becoming bitter, she allowed her pain to make her a better person. Grace allowed pain to make her kind and compassionate. She cared about others. The pain she experienced made her better. God used that pain – because she allowed Him – to make her more gentle, more caring, and more easily able to notice the pain of others. She allowed the crushing of the petals to exude fragrance and rest.

When Grace told these girls her desire for better instead of bitter, they knew what she meant. They had watched her walk through valleys of sorrow; they had watched the pain of brokenness change her hair from black to gray in a few short months. They had seen the wrinkles increase on her face, but they had also seen the beauty shining through that pain. Was it because she spent time with Jesus? Having seen and felt her spirit, these girls wanted to become like her.

Crushing Brings Beauty and Fragrance

It is the crushing of the rose petals that brings out the fragrance.  The sweetness of her spirit remained after she walked away.

Grace isn’t here anymore. When she went to Heaven to be with Jesus, some of her prayers had been answered. Some of them were still there, at the Throne of God, like incense before her Lord. When I think I Grace, I remember the fragrance of her spirit.

She didn’t allow the pain in her life to push her away from God. Instead, she allowed that pain to push her toward Him.

I want to become like Grace because she embodied character traits of Jesus. I want the pain in my life to push me toward God instead of away. I want to allow Him to use the pain to make me better and not bitter.

beauty from pain

The Potter’s Wheel and Broken Pieces

I want to allow Him to put me back on the potter’s wheel and remake me, patching up the broken, rough edges. Over and over, God uses our brokenness to shape us into His character so we can become like Him. When we’re broken into pieces, He doesn’t throw those pieces away. When our dreams are gone or are so shattered there is no mending or repairing, He takes those broken pieces and gives renewed hope and vision. He gives us new dreams.

If we ask Him and allow Him, He scoops us up and puts us back on the Potter’s wheel. In the turning and molding, He shapes us into what He wants us to become.

No pain is too great that He cannot use it.

beauty from pain

Life is an opportunity to let Him shape us into becoming like Jesus. This is not easy and sometimes it is downright hard. When we’re emptied and broken, when we’re wounded and crushed, He never quits. He continues to mold us and make us worthy because He does not throw the clay away. Grace modeled this for those girls.

Let Brokenness Become a Fragrance

If you’re struggling with brokenness today, listen to this song. Ask God to make of you a vessel of honor. Ask Him to produce fragrance from the crushing so that you, too, can become molded into His image. Your sweetness will be a fragrance to those around you.

The SONG “Emptied and Broken”

The Words by Gene Reasoner

Emptied and broken, I came back to Him

A vessel unworthy and so scarred with sin.

But He did not despair, He started over again

And I bless the day He didn’t throw the clay away.

Chorus:

Over and over, He molds me and makes me

Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.

A vessel of honor I am today,

All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

 

He is the Potter and I am the clay

Molded in His  image, He wants me to stay.

But when I stumble and I fall, and my vessel breaks,

He just picks up the pieces, He doesn’t throw the clay away.

The Song

To listen to this song, click on this link.

Pinterest How BEAUTY comes from pain

 

 

 

 

One True Fragrance (in Marriage)

roses

Roses. I do like roses and their fragrance.

‘Especially on our anniversary, my birthday, on Mother’s day, or any other time in-between. Especially other special times, like the births of our babies – I like roses.

I used to tell folks that when I wanted a dozen roses, all I had to do was have another baby.

While it’s true that roses were waiting for me six times over when I got back to my hospital room from Labor and Delivery, it’s also true that I don’t get roses for every birthday, every anniversary, or every Mother’s day. Just sometimes, and sometimes in-between.

After all these years, he continues to splurge. He keeps saying that he doesn’t know how much longer we’ll have each other and he wants to have no regrets, so I’ve quit fussing about the cost.

roses

You know what makes the roses so special? 

The fact that, on any other day when there are no roses, my man is in my corner. Any other day when I’m unkempt and the house is a mess, he helps pick up the pieces and puts me back together again.

Any other day when there is no wafting fragrance in the house, he becomes the fragrance by serving me, again.

The man’s rather imperfect, and no one knows it better than I.  But then, so is his wife. Imagine that. He can verify that, but he won’t broadcast that because, he says, we are one. To speak negatively of me is speaking negatively about himself because we are on the same team. Even so, in a world of strife where so many marriages have dissolved or  are falling apart, we are blessed.

Like so many other marriages, ours could simply be a statistic.

It’s not that we’re so smart or so special. It’s that God – and the way He tells us to do marriage – is.

When you go to God for help, when you really seek for wisdom, when you truly apply what you know to do even when you don’t feel like it,  you  will find that marriage can be done well.

There have been days when I’ve stormed the gates of Heaven, asking God to show me how to understand and love this man. Every time I have asked, He has given me answers.  ‘Not that I always liked the answers or felt like following the directions, mind you. But every time I’ve asked for wisdom, He has given what I needed. ‘Trouble is that sometimes we just don’t bother to ask or we just don’t really don’t want to know.

Our marriage bed is not an array of roses minus thorns.

It’s a fragrance that comes when the petals are crushed as  becomes us.

It’s a fragrance that comes when making love is not so much about “everything is perfect and we’ve got it all together” as it is about “even though we are frustrated with each other, we are still committed to each other; so tonight making love to you is a great way to emphasize that commitment.”

I always thought I’d want a summer wedding, but that didn’t happen. Does that matter now? Not at all. That’s how it is with marriage. The things on the “must have” list, many times, are no longer important and really weren’t that important in the first place. What really matters is commitment.

I figure some folks are tired of hearing me say that, but it’s true. If more people truly believed it, there would be fewer marriages floundering by the wayside.

In a small town in western Maryland over thirty-two years ago, in the church where my parents were married many years before, we tied the knot. Amid freshly-fallen snow, family, and friends, we celebrated. With flowers, music, family – and with God – we were wed.

Life happened, and now our kids are grown and mostly on their own. Life happened, and it is still happening. As life happens, we still celebrate. I still enjoy roses and their perfume. Most especially, I enjoy the fragrance of commitment.

Most especially, we continue to celebrate the greatest fragrance of all: the true faithfulness of God.

pinterest fragrance

Spring is On Its Way

I see before me through the rain

A tree with buds on it again

A-burst with life ‘mid winter’s strain

For spring is on its way.

The flowers of plenty in the ground

Are bursting forth from all around

Soon flower and fragrance will be found

For spring is on its way.

spring

So you who wrestle and wearily plod

And sometimes ask and question God

Be still – and list!

Spring breaks the sod

For spring is on its way.

spring

Be still – and list – and quiet be

And He Who Is Eternity

Will calm your storming, raging sea

For spring was meant to be.

spring

New life, new birth from God’s green earth 

Thus, Spring will help you see

As fragrance comes from broken buds

So Spring can set you free.

Pinterest Spring is on its way