This weekend, our oldest son who is almost five years old, woke up and told me he had a bad dream.
He tried to describe it to me - something about going into a building and seeing something scary in a hallway. He couldn't quite explain it but I could tell he was bothered by it. We talked about it and then said a prayer before he headed back upstairs.
As we walked up the stairs to go back to bed, he stopped and looked at me and said, I don't like bad dreams because they make me forget about all of the beautiful things.
From the mouths of babes.
I have no idea where he got that - bad dreams make me forget about all of the beautiful things.
I was dumbfounded by his reflection. His words hit me more personally than he realized.
Do I ever forget about all of the beautiful things?
It's as if the rite of passage into adulthood occurs when we become disenfranchised with the world around us. It's tempting to become cynical and resentful about how things play out. We begin to just grit our teeth and bear what life throws at us.
And we forget about all of the beautiful things.
It's not that the beautiful things don't exist anymore.
We get distracted.
We get stuck.
We get tired.
Then we forget.
So, how can we remember all of the beautiful things when we have forgotten about them?
Practicing gratitude is all the rage right now and even if it is a fad, people are on to something because it makes an impact on us. Regularly listing the things for which we are grateful combats discontentment and helps us look for beauty in our every day life. It reminds us to reach out to others to express our gratitude and it should remind us to thank God for all he has given us.
Live in the present moment.
It is tempting to be where we are and wish we were elsewhere.
We may attempt to escape by jumping on our phones and social media to avoid our current reality. As I think about it, I am certain I miss beauty every day because I am distracted.
By living in the present moment, we are forced to take in the people and world around us and beauty will show up - in a smile, in a funny thing a toddler says or while watching an elderly couple interact at the grocery store.
Put on love.
Love is beauty at its best.
If we have forgotten about beauty, let's begin with love - sacrificial love.
That means doing repetitive tasks joyfully to serve another, making a meal for a new mom and her family and choosing to forgive our spouses even though it wasn't their first (or last) offense.
This love cultivates beauty in an authentic way and is contagious.
Beauty is a signpost
Beauty won't spare us difficulties or trials but it can sustain us during hard times and make the good times even better.
C.S. Lewis wrote about how God gives us signposts along the way as we journey through life to remind us of himself.
I believe beauty is one of the signposts God provides us. When I experience beauty in big and small ways, I can't help but think of God and his love for us.
The moment I shared with my son on the steps after his bad dream was a moment of beauty and I am so grateful for his simple words that encouraged me to move forward, remembering all of the beautiful things.