“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Maya Angelou

My favorite time of the year is fast approaching and I could not be happier! I love the fall, living in New York and commuting to New Jersey every week. It is incredible to see the Garden State stand proud as the trees change color and put on a bold display of reds, oranges and golds. It is quite a sight to behold.

But, as fall quickly approaches, here I am reflecting on the summer not of my dreams. The hot, sticky days that left me dry and thirsty. The loudness and cluttered-ness of summer that left me constantly seeking peace. I know summer is meant to be filled with excitement and joy-making, but yet here I am having experienced something starkly different to “what was meant to be”.

If you are in my shoes staring at the unexpected that has become your life instead of what you had planned to become your life, I want to offer you some encouragement. The beauty of life is unlocked not in the moments where everything that we have planned happens exactly as planned, but in the moments of pain, beating down and chipping away.

My favorite thing about God is that he is a master artist and He is great at what he does. When we surrender our lives to God, He begins to direct our steps in a major way and starts to direct our plans as we read in Proverbs 19:21: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lords purpose that prevails”. The more I walk with Him, the more He uses every dry, thirsty and peace-less circumstance to shape me and mold me into the person He wants me to be. I am learning that I am more beautiful in this place than I thought I was when all was going well.

There is a scripture in Isaiah that talks about how the Lord is going to restore Zion (His chosen people) to Him, and verse 3 says He is going “to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3 NIV)

I find great comfort in that verse as I know the grief and struggles that I am going through right now are not going to last forever because my God is working hard to redeem and restore my life to better than what it was when things were good. I am seeing that there is far more to be gained by walking faithfully with God in the hard times, than there is walking by myself in the good times.

Just as the trees in full fall bloom get to put on a grand display for us to see, if we continue to hold on to God in the heat and drought of summer, as we have been promised in His word, we too will get to show our true beautiful colors for all the world to see and marvel at, for His glory.