“I want to erase quitting from my dictionary of life and add a little more grace.” Annie F. Downs, Looking for Lovely
There are some days when lovely feels hard to find. When it takes more than a beautiful sunrise or a bottle of sparkly nail polish to make my heart feel joy. Because that’s what’s lovely to me – not happiness, not a perfect day, but joy. And far too often I let the enemy steal my joy.
I let down my guard and the next thing I know comparison, discontent, and bitterness have found a foothold and I contemplate quitting the things that bring me joy. Instead of extending grace in the hard moments and choosing to turn what’s lacking into what’s lovely, I look for an exit.
Sometimes it feels more than justified to quit. Why keep putting myself in a situation or community where I’m disrespected, under appreciated, criticized or overlooked? What could possibly be lovely about showing up where I’m unwanted? But running doesn’t show grace – it only takes a light away from a situation that could very much benefit from some Jesus-like love.
I love what Annie says in “Looking for Lovely” – “…to pause is to win and to rest can actually be part of the victory.”(92) I’ve tended to think that quitting was the rest I needed, that giving up completely when it got hard or awkward or frustrating was the justification I needed to retreat and heal. And sometimes there are situations in life that deserve that. But not the ones I’ve chosen to run from.
“God is ordering my steps, God is ordering all things, and I rest in that.” (117)
I don’t want to run anymore. I want to rest. I want to spend time looking for the lovely that God has for me in the situations He has me in, because He knows about all of them. I want to trust that the unlovely and the hard are opportunities for me to rest in God’s presence and learn something that will help me to grow to be more like Him. I want to believe that I can offer grace when I don’t want to and persevere when I’d rather quit. It’s this balance of grace and perseverance that Annie writes about:
“I have learned that to be all grace is to be lazy but to be all perseverance is to be judgmental. A good balance of grace and perseverance pushes us forward without destroying our spirit when we don’t meet a goal, and it continually brings us back to our goals, dreams, and desires in order to remember why we began, how far we have come to get here, and where we ultimately want to go.” (167)
There is lovely in rest. There is lovely in staying. There is lovely in Jesus – and there is joy, the unending kind, the kind that isn’t dependent on a pretty sunset or a calm walk or a bottle of sparkly nail polish. But those thing are the reminders in my day that there IS lovely to be found in the most unlikely moments. In the staying.
Annie’s new book, “Looking for Lovely: Collecting the Moments that Matter” releases today. My personal copy is highlighted with pages folded and notes in the margins. You’ll feel like you’re sitting with your favorite friend while she shares hope through some hard stories. And you’ll want to yell at her to get out of your head when she shares a truth so frustratingly necessary to your life that you’ll be grateful and annoyed all at the same time. I’m giving a copy away over on Instagram later today so be sure to follow me – or do the awesome thing and go buy a copy for yourself!