“A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”
(Proverbs 16:28 ESV)
“Besides that, they learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.”
(1 Timothy 5:13 ESV)
Things happen; sometimes devastating things that rock us to our core. Hurtful, hateful things. Simply in a word, ugly. That’s the ugly truth of life. But how can there be beauty in it—too?
I’m learning even in the ugly truth, beauty can be found.
A while back the beginning of months of heartache began after I shared simple, heartfelt words about a certain topic in a “safe environment.” It was anything BUT a safe environment. My words were mocked, misconstrued, and twisted into something completely opposite of what I said. The sad part was we had already had a big ugly truth happen. A couple of months before this event my husband lost his job of over 28 years. That infamous day occurred the day before the fifteenth anniversary of the birth of our daughter, Abigail, who lived a little over 23 hours. (You can read about her story here: http://gbmministry.com/2010/12/30/counting-it-all-joy-are-you-serious/ and https://gbmministry.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/a-gift-i-would-have-missed/).
What was the real problem with my words? They were not liked. The words I shared were NOT from a mindset of ridicule or judgment, but from a place of transparency. In fact, the ugly truth was, the words which came from my heart after a prompting of the Holy Spirit to speak up were, unknowingly at the time, strongly hated and offensive to a minutely small number of people. Unfortunately that small minority, of whom I still to this day have no conclusive idea of “their” true identity, carried their offense to someone else completely outside of where the offense was born. Those offenses were passed as truth, and the truth of what really was said was no longer what was. When we were made aware of the offense that night, from what my husband and I could see, I was already placed on trial and pronounced guilty. In the end I was not even allowed to give a defense. We were shut down in a subsequent meeting where we hoped to explain what I did say as opposed to what I didn’t, but our eyes were also opened to see the anger harbored against us within the hearts of others. The whole thing was a big, huge ugly mess. A lot of pain and heartache could have been avoided simply by the original offended individual(s) coming to me, and allowing me to set the truth straight.
The ugly truth was I felt raped. Words of defamation were pronounced over me. Assumptions were made. I was dubbed as “troubled,” when I was actually broken before the Lord. Assumptions were made that I was attacking an entity, of which I was not. Undoubtedly, they could read between my words, and know beyond a doubt what I was thinking. Yes, I jumped to conclusions as well in the process of trying to figure out the “whys” of this fiasco. After all, don’t we all make assumptions when we are attacked verbally with false accusations? It doesn’t make it right; it just makes us sinful humans. Fault-filled. Sin-filled humans.
The ugly truth, I was told I brought all this hurt on myself a few weeks after the “incident” occurred. This person had no idea how hurtful, how mean, how hateful those unnecessary words were to me. I know I stared wide-eyed in unbelief at their ruthlessness. And the words were ruthless and without love. I turned and walked away, because I didn’t need to say what I was feeling and thinking. I wasn’t going to deal out the same ugly words thrown at me. I was bigger than that. The ugly truth was those words revealed what was thought of me. The sad thing is the person was someone I should have counted as a friend. Someone I held out hope I could trust. That person was not, on either account. That’s really sad! It brings tears to my eyes even now as I type these words. “Lord, may I never hurt someone intentionally with hateful words. Remind me, before I do, that words hurt. Words kill.”
Things happened of which I’m not going to share. Matter-of-fact, it isn’t necessary to relay my point, nor do you, as the reader, need to know. Although the specifics matter to me and undoubtedly to those involved at the time, the picture is clearly drawn. Words are very powerful. Words are very contemptuous. Words, wrong ones, damage souls. Words are heard wrong. Words are misinterpreted. The ugly truth, words are sometimes ugly. We say things out of offense, instead of thinking before we speak. Hey, I’m guilty of that too! Admittedly, we all are and that’s the ugly truth.
But within the ugly truth of the matter, we can find beauty.
My husband and I often have conversations about what happened. He knows how much I’ve hurt. He’s had to watch me hurt. He has hurt with me. I have poured my heart out to God. I’ve cried tears full of hurt, even now. Besides God, my husband understands best how much hurt I have battled in this attack. And yes, it was an attack: against my character, against my relationship with the Lord, and against who I am as a daughter of the King. And satan was behind it all. Isn’t he always behind contention and disunity in our personal life and in the body of Christ, which is the Church? He was behind the misconceptions, misunderstandings, slander, and the gossip that nearly destroyed me.
So what is the beauty out of the ugly truth? God.
He’s shaping me.
My kids are watching. They’re being shaped.
My husband watches. He sees my strength, the strength that is made perfect in weakness.
Ironically, I feel very weak.
One of the conclusions I have walked away with is this: If we say we love others, we truly need to show it. I’ve been told by those I’ve had to contend with that they “love” me. Personally, and it’s the ugly truth, I don’t see it. That’s NOT love. Maybe it’s wrong for me to feel that way. But I saw a side that perfectly contrasts what is perceived and what is spoken from their mouths. Body language says otherwise. Deeds say otherwise.
But I think we need to ask ourselves something. Do we really know how to love? From what God has taught me through this whole ordeal, we don’t, and we can’t; not fully. The love we share or others say they have for us is love, isn’t real love. We think it is, but the love of self is at the heart. It’s what motivates us. Our love is flawed.
But oh, the contrast of real, true, abiding love …
Love for us is what motivated God to have a plan from before the start. His plan involved the self-giving sacrifice of His Son, Jesus for an ugly, dirty, icky, sin-filled mankind. He saw that our ugliness was redeemable, but ONLY redeemable through His son, Jesus. There’s no other way.
You may be reading this because you’ve been hurt deeply, a deep core penetrating hurt; know this: God sees your hurt and pain. He sees my hurt and pain, too. He knows how to love us with an undying, fully expressed love; the cross proves it. There’s beauty in it.
How it must grieve Him, when, if we confess Him, we hurt others who are also professing Christians. What does it accomplish to hurt one of our own? The ugly truth is: we have either done it to someone else, had it done to us, will have it done to us, or we are capable of doing it to others, if we choose to live in our flesh and not in Christ. When we hurt others, we are only thinking of ourselves, because, stay with me here, we feel the necessity to “get back” at the one we have been offended by.
Recently one Saturday morning, after my husband had left for his new job with his parents’ family business, I tackled the stinky deposits of our six family dogs in our front yard. Collecting and disposing of those stinky deposits is the ugly truth of dog ownership that no one likes to deal with, but dealing with it on your shoes is perhaps the epitome of the ugly truth behind our canine companions’ presence in our life. As I used the pooper scooper, I noticed a delightful scent that definitely wasn’t emanating from the scooper. Ah, gardenias, their scent wafted lovingly around my nose. My favorite summertime scent was winning the scent battle over the ugly truth resting in the scooper I dangled in my grip. After completing the duty of pooper scooper extraordinaire, I decided I needed fresh-cut gardenias from the hedge in our front yard. I was on a mission. I walked around the hedge selecting the right blooms, crisp and white with stems long enough to place in the small recycled jar I had retrieved from below my kitchen sink. I trimmed the leaves from the stems and stuck them into the jar, making sure I passed the jar many times under my nose. Heavenly, so much better than the other scent I had gladly placed elsewhere.
Later, as I snapped pictures of my mini bouquet, doing so made me think of the title for this blog post. Although I had to deal with the ickiness of our dogs’ potty breaks, the air was, in spite of the smell of dog poop sitting in the scooper, beautifully scented with gardenia blossoms. My yard provided beauty through the floral undertones wafting in the air, swirling around me. In actuality, their beautiful scent overshadowed the unpleasantries of dog ownership. My epiphany was this: My life may seem to be filled with ugly truth right now, but I can also choose to see the beauty swirling around me instead of focusing on the ugliness. The two contrasts work in conjunction with one another, and I can choose to let God do something with the ugly truth of my life and bring beauty out of it.
It’s all about making me less and less, and Him, oh so much greater and greater in my life. If I was to only focus on the hurt and not on Christ, I would never allow Him to be my Potter, disposing me of my own unpleasantries. And the ugly truth? I would never know Him like He wants me to. I would never choose to stay in His Word, pray, nor help others who have experienced hurts as well. My hurt kept inside is just hurt kept inside making me bitter, but what if I let the sweet aromas of His lessons, His constructive repairing, emanate to someone else?
So that’s why these words are before you. I certainly don’t have it all together. But I can offer you a bit of my pain and lessons learned that I hope can stir up beauty within you. Your ugly truth will always be with you as long as you’re here and not with Christ in Glory, but let the beauty of Christ fill you with His sweet aroma. The pain will diminish; a heart of forgiveness is possible. It’s something I’m working on daily with His help. This process definitely isn’t easy. But it’s necessary.
Let God take care of those who hurt you. He hasn’t forgotten; vengeance is His, let Him take care of the ugly truth, and in the process leave yourself in His capable Hands. He’s got this.