To simplify my life story, my twin, Brittany and I were besties from the womb. We bonded so deeply from an early age because we walked closely together through a childhood struggle. My parents divorced when we were four, and our top goal was nearly identical to the girls in The Parent Trap. We were constantly concocting plans to get our parents together, and the thought of their marriage reconciling was so big that it only equated to a distant imaginative dream. Although we stood in what presented itself as a hopeless circumstance, we still prayed and hoped and believed. Back to that later. I came to know the Lord at an early age, and this fracture in my life taught me the great need for dependence on something greater and more sufficient than other humans or myself; my little plans wouldn’t make much of a dent; I didn’t have the power to soften hearts or bring our family back together.
In the midst of the everyday brokenness, I vividly remember watching my mom get up early, cozy up in her big comfy chair, with her Bible open, journal out, and coffee hot. I felt like I was visually seeing what a relationship with God looked like. I learned so much from her beautiful routine, and in response, I started journaling my prayers and thoughts and hopes. So much freedom and peace entered into my life. Alongside this illustration, I will never forget the youth group my dad was deeply invested in. It was a family that exuded love like I had never seen before. I saw the necessity, beauty, and power of community.
A couple of years ago, my life took a big shift. My calendar paused, my career path changed, and my platform increased after a night of injury, or what my subconscious defined as a depletion of beauty. I was sucked into a plane propeller; the blade cut into my brain and the left side of my body, resulting in the loss of my left eye, left hand, and half my head of hair post surgery. In retrospect, I clearly see how I easily submerged in destructive comparison after this life-altering experience. The thoughts swirled: my life story has its twists and turns; my career path looks different than my friend who works a 9-5; my passions are rearranging and not set in stone.
I quickly came to realize that comparison is equivalent to worry; it only severely hinders and limits fruition. Plus, if we really think about it, wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same?
Beauty makes you bloom. In essence, it is freedom to be you.
Being confident in the fact that God purposely put specific passions in your heart is what makes you beautiful. Think about it: You have been through the struggle, through the most joyous days, and through the unknown for a brilliant reason. They each fabricate who you are and how you grow; they form a deeper compassion for others, greater patience through times of waiting, and clearer awareness of true contentment. They bring you to know that the valley produces some of the greatest realization, which results in genuine appreciation for love and life.
The backdrop of life seems to be such a blur until you are able to view past happenstances in clear retrospect. The tragedy seems shocking. The hurt seems unfair. The grieving is never desirable until the growth surfaces, until the beauty shows. Defined gratefulness always seems to release after the pain even if joy is alive in the current chaos. In the essence of a pain, bursts of appreciation tend to manifest in the midst of an unknown territory yet cry out from a solid foundation.
Brokenness can be so beautiful — I have a much clearer view of a healthy marriage because of my parent’s divorce. I have a better trust in His timing and faithfulness after watching Him restore their hearts to each other after a long seven years. I have a greater trust in His provision after experiencing His comfort that hasn’t stopped since the seconds after my accident. His love is so evident and beautiful, especially in the pain and waiting.
Beauty makes the mindless worries disintegrate; it makes each moment worth living. It allows you to celebrate who God has made you to be while emboldening who God has made others to be. It makes diversity attractive. It depletes jealousy. It makes us real.
Beauty is acknowledging your self-worth, purpose, and passion without reservation. It is opening your eyes to the vastness of someone’s heart. It pushes you to boldly run down the road set before you without fear because a bump in the road or a jolly journey will only result in the fullness of who you are.
-Lauren Scruggs Kennedy
Cover photo by Kat Harris
Book photo by Harry Van Gorkum