Sunday, March 17, 2013

Broken isn't beautiful

Last night I saw Les Misérables for the second time. It is my favorite book, my favorite musical, and this recent movie version is almost certainly on my list of favorite movies. It would be easy for me to turn this into a post made of pure fangirl, but luckily Les Mis is so good that it inevitably lends itself to deeper thought.

Seeing it again offered some clarity on an idea that's been milling around in my head for a while now, the title of this post: broken isn't beautiful.

Some people may take offense at this, and I mean absolutely no disrespect to those who have experienced hardship and horror in their lives. I don't want to minimize the pain people go through or the strength it takes to overcome it. But that's my point -- it's not the pain and horror itself that makes things beautiful. It's the fact that we do overcome it. The beauty comes in healing, salvation, and light. The problem is I think some people, even Christians, tend to glorify brokenness.

But don't we have to learn from mistakes? Doesn't overcoming hardship make us stronger? Aren't some of the most admirable people in the world those who have gone through trauma and pain, only to come out the other side better and stronger?

 I do believe so. But I think we tend to concentrate on these actions because we don't know what true beauty looks like. This world is a cracked mirror. What we see can never be the same as that which is true. If we knew what real beauty looked like, truth and goodness untainted by this world's darkness, would we try to hold up our brokenness as the better thing?

But we do have flaws. There is evil at work, and it has left scars. However, scars exist because wounds have been healed. Though there is pain, we don't need to despair.

And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. -- 2 Corinthians 12:9, NKJV
We don't boast in our infirmities because they're infirmities. We boast in them because they are opportunities to let Christ shine through us. Thus, the boast is not for us and the evil that has affected us. It's for Christ.

Les Misérables means "the miserable ones." It's a story of darkness at war in human history, taking lives, wrecking families, oppressing nations. Still, I believe it is the most beautiful story I've ever heard. Why? Because we are shown light wins out over darkness. God's goodness saves. It takes a thief and a desperate man and turns him into a bastion of righteousness for others. The marks of a thief are still there, but they serve not to define the man, but contrast who he has become.

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. -- 1 Corinthians 15:10, NKJV

1 comment:

  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. Although, I didn't always understand this. I use to think affliction and agony had a certain beauty to it. However, I have gained a new perspective. Now I better understand the phrase: "God gives us beauty for ashes". Our afflictions are not to be glorified. It is restoration and redemption that is the true beauty.