“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”
If you haven’t noticed, I’m a pretty upbeat person.
I usually look for the good, and try to find the sunshine.
I’m almost always an optimist.
But, there are times when my optimism fails me.
Sometimes I find it very hard to see anything but the negative.
It’s usually related to my hormones, and the focus of my negativity is always my house.
I guess I can be grateful that it isn’t directed at my life, my circumstances, or the people I love.
But still, it makes me sad that I can get so lost in negativity and focus only on the things I see as imperfections.
This past Sunday we spent time cleaning up our back yard.
We pulled weeds, raked leaves, put things away, did some cleaning in the garage, and just tidied it all up.
Everything looked so much better.
I knew it.
But inside I was struggling because all I could see was everything that was still undone.
It was hard for me to enjoy the good we’d done because I was choosing to see the bad.
Last night I snapped this photo during our dinner time picnic.
It was a beautiful night and felt just like summer.
We were eating on a quilt on the patio because our turquoise picnic table finally rotted away after 12 years of service.
We also don’t have a stick of other patio furniture.
This was a point of frustration for me on Sunday.
Like to the point of spoiling everything else because I was so hung up on it.
I hate it when go there.
But last night when I looked at this scene before me, I didn’t care about our lack of patio furniture.
Or the list of other imperfections that were bugging me 2 days before.
All I saw was my sweet family, a cheery quilt to sit on for dinner, our happy, turquoise doors, twinkling lights, and a scene that brought joy to my heart.
Nothing was different from Sunday except the state of my heart.
But what a difference that can make.
Aaron and I dream of a vintage, cone shaped fire place for our back patio.
And vintage patio furniture to match it.
And our back yard would look like this!
But in all seriousness, those items are spendy, and we’ve chosen to wait on them.
Or perhaps to get something with a lower price when we find that something.
But until then, we make do with what we have: a rickety picnic table , folding lawn chairs from Target, and an old wash tub as our fire pit.
It is not a look worthy of Sunset magazine. (my favorite source of inspiration for backyard landscape and design)
But they have served us well and given us plenty of wonderful times in our back yard.
And most of the time I recognize that.
And am grateful.
But other times I complain.
This should not be.
I have so many things to be grateful for and it is wrong, yes wrong, for me to complain about my lack of anything.
Because really, I don’t lack for anything.
Not one single thing.
I am not minimizing the struggle and suggesting I just, “put on a happy face.”
Believe me, I know the depth and difficulty of this struggle.
At times I feel paralyzed under the weight of this negativity that comes over me.
I hate it.
But I can’t stay there.
It really is a battle, and it isn’t just in my head.
It’s in my heart too.
Because a big part of what I’m struggling with is contentment.
We live in a culture that is always telling us we deserve more, and then encourages us to buy more and have more.
We start to believe that we need more.
And if we can’t have what we want, we don’t wait and save for it, but just get something else in the meantime.
And then toss that when it breaks or we don’t like it anymore, or we can finally get the thing we wanted in the first place.
There aren’t a lot of messages that encourage contentment with what we have.
What if, instead of focusing on what I don’t have, I choose to praise God for what I do have?
What if I stop and do what that old hymn encourages me to do, “count my blessings name them one by one”?
And sometimes I just don’t want to choose contentment.
I’d rather complain because, frankly, it’s easier.
But God always leads me back to this verse from Philippians 4 and I am convicted and encouraged at the same time,
“For I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
I’ll never be able to be content in all situations on my own strength.
I’ve got crazy pms hormones working against me, I’ve got 4 kids who can’t remember to keep their dirty hands off the walls, I’ve got…life!
I don’t live in a perfect world.
But oh how good it is to remember that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
I don’t have to be perfect.
My house, my yard, my husband, my kids, my life, do not have to be perfect.
With God’s strength I can choose to see the beauty in all of it.
With God’s strength I can choose contentment, even when I don’t want to.
But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
It just means it’s hard.
“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
This may be the summer of patio furniture.
And I admit, I am really hoping it is.
I’ll be overjoyed to spruce up our space some more.
But it might not be.
And that will be OK too.
We’ll just keep spreading out cozy quilts and enjoying this beautiful life we live.
And hey, according to this vintage ad, our folding lawn chairs are the real deal anyway.
So Maybe we’ll just get a few more of those and call it a day!
Cheers to vintage!
And to choosing contentment.