It Doesn't Have to Be Finished to Be Beautiful
“It doesn’t have to be finished to be beautiful.”
Before the words were even out of my mouth I heard the echo in my heart.
I was sitting across the table from my oldest daughter who was twenty minutes into a Crayola masterpiece. There were crayons and markers of every shade and size spewed across the table, and she was eagerly doing what she loved to do: create.
But when I announced that she would soon have to clean up and get ready for the next thing on our agenda, her emotions assaulted me. She said she would have to throw out her drawing because she didn’t have time to finish it. When I tried to console her, assuring her that she could put it aside and come back to it later, that it was indeed beautiful and worth continuing on with, she cried that it wasn’t beautiful at all.
“But it doesn’t have to be finished to be beautiful, love.”
The echo was instant, but as typical for God, the words were both powerful and gentle: “Malinda, your work doesn’t have to be complete to be beautiful. Your creative pursuits, your gifts that are just starting to be actualized and strengthened (not near complete in their potency), your ability to parent, to lead others, to love people, your book that is not yet finished, your heart and personality flaws, all of it is beautiful to me. Your life, even though far from nearing the end, is masterpiece quality.”
Isn’t this the perfect reminder for the beginning of the year? The idea that whatever we are working on— personally, or creatively, in our business or work environments, relationally, or spiritually, as leaders and friends— in all of it, though the work may be far from over, it is still beautiful.
Though incomplete it doesn’t deserve the trash pile. It deserves to be preserved, to be treasured. Perhaps put aside for a moment, or maybe for a season, until more devotion and time can be spent on it again. Every masterpiece needs a rest: paintings must dry, pottery must be heated by fire, music and words must be captured and wrestled with. Any masterpiece is beautiful in its various stages, and must be completed over time— never rushed.
We think that it does. We think that it needs to be picture and post-worthy, complete with a red bow and sparkly gift wrap. We want to know that every detail has been perfected before we can declare it beautiful, worthy of praise and admiration, but that just isn’t how it works.
The composer’s score is appreciated within the first eight count. As the painter brushes the first strokes onto the canvas, beauty emerges, though wet and mostly empty. The writer can pull at our heart and excite us with mere words, yet the rest of the novel is yet to be discovered.
When God looks at our failed attempts, our incomplete work, the raw material that is us— our heart, mind, emotions and abilities, He doesn’t see waste. He sees opportunity for growth. He knows that our effort, plus time, in tandem with His great power, will result in something far too great for words.
Even if we don’t feel like it,
Even if the end seems far off,
Even if yesterday (or an hour ago) seems like a colossal failure,
Even if you’ve been told your whole life that you are a mistake, of no value or purpose,
Even if you’re struggling (through tears) to believe it,
The truth is:
“... we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10
Yes, we may be half way through January, and the natural instinct is to scrap the New Year goals that you haven’t been able to stick with (for whatever reason). Can I encourage to not give up? Just because it isn’t finished doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful: your heart that is mending, your body that is transforming, your abilities that you are strengthening, your relationships that are healing, your business and creative endeavors that are growing, your savings account which is accumulating.
What things have you given up on because you thought that it wasn’t beautiful? Where have you been neglectful and need to get back to the work (even if painful)? What ways do you need to speak truth to yourself and confidently proclaim, “I am God’s masterpiece”? Where do you need to remind yourself that, “It doesn’t have to be finished to be beautiful.”