There are times I wish that I didn't love so much. There are times I wish it were easier to separate myself from the joy, hurt, heartbreak, fear, hope. Yes, there are many times I am grumpy, unapproachable, and rude. There are times when I do not want to interact with other humans, regardless of how joyous they are. But mostly, I just love ya. All o' ya.
When I look at you, I see daughters, sons, cousins, parents, friends, aunts, godparents, godchildren, dog-moms and cat-dads, widows, and siblings.
I see creators, thinkers, adventurers, teachers, artists, writers, singers, builders, and discoverers.
I see no two alike.
I see beauty in the blue eyes, the brown eyes, the green eyes, the grey eyes, and intelligence there, too.
I see eyes that have seen nothing, for they are new. I see faces that have seen much, for they are old--some in years, and some in life experiences. There is beauty in both the hope in newness, and the careful skepticism in experience.
There is beauty here, and there is much pain.
I see the lines in faces of fights between friends or lovers, between parents and children. I see lines in faces from a long weary road of hardships: suffering, trials, failures, and perseverance.
I see clouded eyes from long days in the sun, or long hours of working for sustenance. I see clear eyes, bright with the hopes of academia and a future full of promise.
I see hands calloused from years of manual labor, speckled by the sun. I see knobby, arthritic hands, that still strive to complete blankets, scarves, and hats for those in need. I see baby soft hands, searching, learning, exploring the world which is still new and beautiful.
Every line in every face is beautiful. Every line, every eye, every hand tells a story. A story of who you are, where you've been, what you've done, how you've seen, what you know, and for what you still search.
Yes, a line is a symbol of a struggle, a trial, a pain. But it is also a remembrance that you've come through it. Some tattoo these remembrances on their bodies: a symbol of a past period of their life through which they've come. But some trials are undeniably written on your body with an ink no laser will remove. And it is beautiful, even if it is also painful.
It has taken me time to understand that paradox: beauty from pain. I do not think one necessitates the other. There is beauty in something brand new, that has not yet experienced failure. There is also beauty in the face of someone who has lived through a great trial: a world war, persecution, starvation, illness, or broken relationships.
I look at you, and I see myself. I see things we struggle with together. I see the things I will never understand, or that you will never understand in me.
But most of all, I see hope. Or more precisely, I see you through hope. This is different than "rose-colored glasses." I am frightfully aware of how much imperfection is in this world. I choose to hope in spite of it. It is because of this lens that I know there is beauty here: in pain, in trial, in success, and in ordinary life. It is because of this lens that I have perseverance for tomorrow, despite how dark it looks out my window. It is because of hope that I know, in my deepest heart, that it will be okay. You. We. We will be okay. And we are beautiful.
. . .
I would be remiss if I were to leave the letter above standing alone.
My hope in you, in us, does not stem from some whimsy, some ephemeral desire of things being better in the future. No. My hope is rooted, rather unshakably, in a bigger picture. One in which there is Right, there is Perfection, and there is Hope that we can find it all.
Why do I understand this to be true? If I can quickly lay out my understandings, I will try:
1. I believe in a perfect God, who is the epitome of good, love, justice. Who is eternal, and all powerful.
2. I believe that #1 has allowed His character to be accurately portrayed in the Bible.
3. I believe the new testament's statement that the only way to perfection is through belief that Jesus has the power to wipe the record clean of my shortcomings.
From this standpoint, I see a hope for the future. I see hope for erasure of the pain in this world. I see hope for an eventual understanding of why we all have lines on our faces and callouses on our hands. From this standpoint, I see the pain as a sharpening, a refining process for myself--and I hope it is such for you.
Am I not a wiser person for having experienced the cocktail of trials and successes in my life? Are you not a more beautiful person for having triumphed through that decade of fear and self loathing? Without a gauge, for me I cannot compare who I was prior, to who I am now.
For me--and I recognize it is not so for all--I require this measuring stick. For what am I hoping? Something I have accomplished? Something I have seen you accomplish? No. I hope for it all. My eyes are open, I see the hurt and the mistakes--yes. I have made them, Lord, I have made them--I see the world for what it is.
But because of this lens, because of a hope for things not yet seen, I see beauty in it all. For in everything, there is hope of achieving that for which you strive. (1)
Because of this hope, I will never give up on loving you. On telling you you're beautiful. Ever.
(1) Much of this is spurred by Romans 8, but that is not the only place in the Bible that speaks of this stuff.