Familiar with the phrase, "It's always calmest before the storm"? Or "It's always darkest before the dawn"?
I'm adding a new one: "It's always ugliest before the pretty."
I walked into my favorite salon yesterday with two-day-old hair pulled back in a messy bun (sorry, Meghan), and couldn't wait to get my roots touched up and experiment with new hair color.
Highlights alone already take some time. See all those foils? There is a teeny tiny amount of hair inside those foils. It's time consuming, and requires patience and skillful fingers.
It's not pretty looking like the Tin Man, or that I'm afraid aliens are going to invade my brain. But it's worth it once the foils are out, the color rinsed, and a new beautiful head of hair is professionally blow-dryed.
Because sometimes it's ugliest before the pretty.
When cleaning the house, and I mean a deep clean, I'll spend a few hours making piles of trash, donate, store, and "do something with." Sometimes I'll look around and think, "It looks like I haven't done anything!" However, at that point, at the "messiest" of the cleaning, I'm almost done.
The pretty is right around the corner.
Some meals are better left unseen until the finished product. Raw ground hamburger isn't particularly appetizing, but once it's dressed up inside a taco shell, chili, or formed into a cooked patty, it's a different story. Even the process of getting a chicken from farm to table isn't pleasant to watch. But a de-feathered breast covered in Popeyes, KFC, or Bonnie Lee's secret recipe makes for darn good fried chicken.
The process can be ugly, but pretty is coming.
The Bible says to live peaceably and gives a slew of instructions and advice on how to deal with life when there is discord. The key here is that there will be discord. Bitterness, anger, hurt feelings, and a wounded pride are all ugly. Tension is uncomfortable.
I read a study that said it is better to be around people you like or don't like, rather than around people you feel tense with. When both parties like or don't like each other, there's no question on where you stand, and no feeling weird. When there is a tension, it's like walking on eggshells, and has an unhealthy affect on your body.
A good fight can be cleansing. It clears the air and allows for a fresh start. It's definitely ugly, but a mended relationship or a healed heart is beautiful.
Five months ago, I prayed for God to bless my book, to bless my writing, and to bless me with speaking opportunities. I feared that I wasn't doing my part, especially during the holidays. I couldn't sit by and let the blessings He'd already given me fall by the wayside.
It was an ugly time for my heart.
I doubted I was good enough. I worried that I would let God down. I engaged in negative self-talk. Then I decided to cancel the pity party and speak truth.
I'm not good enough, but I can do all things through Christ.
If I do my best, and actively pursue this dream, I'm not letting God down.
I reminded myself of all the crazy awesome positive things that have happened in an extremely short amount of time.
I came through the ugly and am enjoying some pretty. My speaking calendar is filling up, I'm earning money writing, and even have a couple of future surprises in store.
Sometimes the messy part of planning allows for a nice return. My calendar looks ugly, my desk looks ugly, and my to-do list looks ugly.
But anytime I feel like I'm living in the ugly, I remind myself that pretty is on the other side.
Question: What areas of life do you find are ugly before they get pretty? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Bethany Jett is the author of The Cinderella Rule. Bethany and her husband, Justin, minister to youth. She is a speaker and prolific freelance writer.
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