God sees us not as problems to be solved or broken objects to be repaired but beauty on the way to being formed. Sin, then, is what keeps us in a posture of resisting God’s desire for creating beauty in, with, and through us. His desire is for us to join him in creating and adding to the beauty we are becoming, which transforms the world around us into much the shame. (The Soul of Desire, Curt Thompson 43)
The Soul of Desire by Curt Thompson is the most impactful book that I have read for a long time and this week my devotional times and reflections revolved around my daily readings from it. Can you imagine what a difference it would make in our lives if we saw ourselves not as problems to be solved or broken objects to be repaired but as beauty on the way to being formed? And not just any random kind of beauty either, or the false beauty that Hollywood and social media tell us we should try to create, but the beauty of the glorious divine image which is slowly being recreated in each of us. We cannot see what that beautiful picture will look like when it is complete, but God often reveals the next step, the next brushstroke, the next tiny facet of beauty in that image. That is such a revolutionary and wonderful thought.
Each day, in fact in each moment, God is creating beauty. I am very grateful for the beauty God has already created in me. I am grateful for the beauty God is creating in me, around me and through me. I am grateful for the broken places that create beauty through their mending. I am grateful that this image of God within me is only one tiny facet of who God is. The full beauty of God is only revealed as all God’s creatures are restored together . Then we will not just see the beauty of God but the beauty of the eternal world God is giving birth to.
Curt Thompson asks his clients who are often struggling with their own inner demons or with relational breakdowns, “What is the next beautiful thing you want to create?” Instead I found myself asking two related questions that I heartily encourage you to ask yourself:
What are some of the beautiful things God has already created in me? We so often focus on what still needs to be repaired and made beautiful and fail to notice the beauty that already emerged from deep within us. I am aware this week that God has gifted me with a heart of generosity and hospitality; a gift for writing; a delight in nature and the joy of preserving and restoring it where possible; a desire for a more sustainable way of life for us and for others. Identifying these small gifts of beauty already present within me makes it much easier to think about what beauty might still need to be created from the broken places still within.
What is the next beautiful thing God wants to create in me? This is a great question to ask in the midst of hard transitions because it endues a sense of purpose and positivity to the transitions. God’s desire for the future is beauty, not ugliness and destruction.
Asking about the beauty God might want to create sounds simple–but of course it isn’t. We must recognize that God’s beauty is indeed created. It doesn’t come ready-packaged and fast delivered from Amazon. We – like God in the creation of Adam – are expected to get down in the mud, get our hands dirty and work hard on the creative process. First there is the dreaming and imagining process (I wonder, does God spend the nights dreaming about the next act of creation?). Then there is the listening phase. Listening to our bodies, and our souls, to our God and our communities. It requires vulnerability and a willingness to both make mistakes and also admit to the mistakes we have made in the past. Sometimes we need to compromise, be willing to change direction and possibly make painful adjustments to what we hear in the listening times. It requires a commitment to seeing the process through to the end, not stopping when the beauty is slow in being birthed and all we can see is the trauma of the process.
Given the cultural dominance of a left-mode manner of attuning to the world, we do not have much experience practicing imagining, much less anticipating, that one of our primary callings in life is to create icons of beauty…. The Soul of Desire, Curt Thompson
What Is Your Response?
Sit quietly in the presence of God. Think about the beauty God has already created in you. You might like to close your eyes, doodle or knit to help you focus. Don’t be shy. Don’t allow your mind to dwell on what still needs to be repaired or recreated. Think only of the beauty. As God brings things to mind write them down. Pray over your list and thank God for the beauty already created.
Now think ahead. What is one thing of beauty you think God wants to create in you in the future? If nothing comes to mind don’t despair. Take time each day to sit quietly in the presence of God. Read through the list of beautiful things already in your life. Write down what you learned through your reading, listening, and creative activities yesterday, and then ask yourself: What is the next beautiful thing God wants to create in me? At some point, I suspect, God will unveil a vision of possible beauty that will take your breath away. This is an exciting exercise to do in a community group where you can listen to and support each other’s exploration of the beautiful things God wants to create in each of you either individually or together.
God I thank you for beauty,
In me, around me, through me.
I thank you for that which is already present,
For that which is being birthed,
And for that which is yet to come.
May I listen with my ears,
With my heart,
And with my community,
To what you are creating.
May it take root and grow.
May it bud and flower
And produce fruit,
In me, around me, through me.
Christine Sine (October 2021)
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Now live and ready for registration! Join Christine and Lilly for a virtual retreat unlocking the wonder of the Advent season on November 20th, 2021 from 9:30 am-12:30 pm PDT.