A Gorgeous Take On What May Seem Ugly

A while back, Jen and I went on a little run. We dropped the kids off at the in-laws’ and spent a couple hours trekking through a local greenway. We got to experience the sunrise and a couple breathtaking views (we also ran some trails along the water). It was gorgeous!

In one part of the greenway, we ran through a brief stretch of marshland. It was a little swampy, wet, and not the most attractive site. So as we were running past mile 2 or 3, Jen turns to me and says, “This is gorgeous.”

Wow.

Immediately it hit me. Here I was thinking, “People probably run through this stretch every day thinking it’s unattractive, dirty, and an unpleasant view. And my wife said the exact opposite.

Isn’t that a fair picture of how God views us versus what the world may say? The world may label us, “You are ugly. You are broken. You are messed up.” But then God enters the picture and interjects, “No, you are gorgeous. You are healed. You are redeemed!”

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

I know I need to be reminded sometimes that God looks at my heart. There may be times that I feel messed up, hopeless, and broken. And in other’s eyes, they may see me as that – just a messed up guy. Thankfully, that is not the end. Christ has already entered the picture and claimed me as His son. He already said that I am made whole and full of hope!

Do you run? When was a time when you saw something “ugly” but it was, in fact, “beautiful”?

45 Comments

  • bill (cycleguy)

    March 16, 2011

    Great reminder Dustin. i don’t run but I do cycle. It gets me a whole lot farther and I get to see a lot. Some places are of the “I would never live here variety” and others take my breath away. God’s creation/creativity is amazing. Thanks for the good word.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      Sure is amazing. Thanks for sharing, Bill! (And really… you cycle?? :))

      Reply
  • Moe

    March 16, 2011

    I used to run from the cops… Oh, never mind.

    I am actually running twice a week with a friend now. It’s still cold here in New York, so we don’t spend too much time running. I’ve always enjoy the scenery.

    I went to the Dominican Republic to meet some of the elderly ladies for the home we support from Church. The neighborhood is old and the home where they are is old and ugly. My first reaction was, “yikes, this is unattractive”. But then I met the ladies, played with them, prayed with them and I saw the beauty of it all. God is there, and wherever God is, It’s beautiful!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      Great story from your time in the DM. That’s awesome.

      Reply
  • Ryan Tate

    March 16, 2011

    I do run. But I do much better when a ball is involved.

    God sees us as his joy doesn’t he? Great post Dustin.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      I seem to be able to run much longer when a ball is involved as well. :)

      Reply
  • Ben

    March 16, 2011

    Can’t run as much now after tearing ACL’s in both knees, but I will run if there’s a soccer ball and it needs to find it’s place in the back of the net, or if we’re down and we’re in place to score the winning TD, or… ok like Ryan, anything to do with a ball, I’ll run.

    Ugliness but indeed was beautiful: I once fixed a toilet, took it off the cement and saw a real ugly hole… nevermind, it stayed ugly.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      You should add: “If my kids’ team needs a sub, I’ll run”.
      (I can picture that!)

      Reply
      • Ben

        March 16, 2011

        Yes!!! I would dominate…for like 5 seconds then pass out.

        Reply
  • Adam

    March 16, 2011

    Yes.. I am a runner! i think the thing i find interesting there is one course that I run and i used to think that i wasn’t the greatest view when i used to drive by it. However when i started running that route i took a new appreciation for it. and noticed a lot more things about it when i slowed down.
    which i think is just a good lesson in general.

    wow.. i really don’t like capital “I’s” today. They must have offended me.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      that’s an interesting perspective – stop and see the details… like that a lot Adam.

      Reply
  • Jay Cookingham

    March 16, 2011

    Seeing how the Father sees will always surprise us…Good reminder bro’…thanks!

    Reply
  • Jason Vana

    March 16, 2011

    I’m not much of a runner. I will use my elliptical a lot during the winter, but when it’s spring/summer/fall, I ride my bike – usually about 20 or more miles each time. I love it.

    As far as seeing something that is ugly as beautiful – I see this every time I go to Czech. Many people see the graffiti and centuries old buildings as ugly and I guess in some places, it is ugly compared to what we’re used to in America, but when I look at it, I see the beauty of people who were once in oppression by communism and are now free…and adding color to their lives.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      I really enjoyed what you wrote about the graffiti on old buildings. Where do you ride?

      Reply
      • Jason Vana

        March 16, 2011

        We don’t have any biking trails where I live, so I just right throughout town.

        Reply
  • Adam

    March 16, 2011

    I run occasionally but since my wife and I had our son we have been biking so we can pull him around.

    Seeing something ugly but beautiful: Birth…Enough said.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      Ha, you don’t have to say more… I understand. :)

      We have jogging strollers… love doing things like that with the kids!

      Reply
  • Tony Alicea

    March 16, 2011

    I’m definitely not a runner. I played a lot of sports in high school in college but have since gotten pretty much out of shape.

    I constantly pray that God gives me His heart. It is so difficult to look past the surface at times but I’ve had those glimpses of glory. I’ve seen something pitiful and broken and I’ve had those brief moments where God gives me His eyes and I see profound beauty where I would normally see broken, ugly and forgotten. I want that all the time.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 16, 2011

      Me too, Tony. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Praying for God’s heart … me too.

      Reply
  • Keri @ Pop Parables

    March 16, 2011

    Dustin, when I lived in Lousiana, it was literally a swampland. I hated it there. I thought it was sooooo ugly and nothing like Hawaii or Seattle-both places overwhelmingly and undeniably beautiful. When my parents came to visit, my Dad (an awesome photog) took a picture of the swamp by our house and it was a beautiful piece of art. I saw it in a completely different light-much like what happened with your wife.

    When I lived there, I ran a 5k every single day. Of course, I didn’t have kids or a job back then-I was going to university full time. But, I love running-it is very freeing and exhilirating-especially once you get over that slump and then keep going and don’t want to stop.

    Bro, this is an awesome follow up to your post about Broken is Beautiful. I thought about that a lot when I was at Bible study today…this passage was brought up: Hebrews 12:12-13,

    12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

    He doesn’t leave us lame or broken, He HEALS us completely. And, THAT is what is beautiful. Just had to share that with you, because it made me think of your post.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 17, 2011

      Thanks for sharing those verses, keri. So true… we may be broken at points in our life, but healing will always come.

      Reply
  • Jon

    March 16, 2011

    I’m an amateur runner…and I need to get back into the swing of things. This post reminds me of my trip to India 2 years ago…there are many run-down places there; they are filthy and have poor sanitation, but when you take a step back, it’s beautiful. The people make it beautiful.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 17, 2011

      awesome! are you planning on going back anytime soon?
      “the people make it beautiful” – love it.

      Reply
  • Terry Valencia

    March 16, 2011

    When I was diagnosed with breast cancer…It was very ugly and not what I wanted to be going through at all! A friend of mine who was going through breast cancer too (diagnosed about a month earlier than I) said “Terry, this will be a beautiful and incredible journey” I thought she was crazy for saying that! But, through it all, it has been beautiful and very incredible! It’s not that I would want to go through it again, but I wouldn’t trade the things that God showed me and taught me through this journey. I cherish Him more, I drew closer to Him, I leaned on Him and He showed Himself so BIG to me in very tangible ways! I could write pages and pages of the many specific things that my friends and family (and you D!) did for me which were the hands of feet of Christ showing me love and kindness through a very dark time. I reread my journals and weep at the mercies my Heavenly father showed me! God is good! and God is great! Great post my boy!!!

    Reply
  • Michael

    March 16, 2011

    Man, this describes West Texas. It really is ugly and dry and brown and dry again. But when you drive down the highway and can see for miles upon miles, it’s really cool.

    Reply
    • Keri @ Pop Parables

      March 16, 2011

      I looooove West Texas! There is definitley a serenity about that landscape…dotted with cows and cow smells, of course. :)

      Reply
    • Dustin

      March 17, 2011

      like the permian panthers from odessa? :)

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    March 16, 2011

    A great reminder. God hasn’t chosen some better version of ourselves. He’s chosen us. And that choice makes us beautiful.

    Reply
  • kristinherdy

    March 16, 2011

    I dont run. I don’t know what Bible you guys are reading, but running is against my faith ;) I prefer freeform dance in my living room as a means of exercise :D

    Honestly, I dont think newborns are all that beautiful, even my own. I look back at pictures now, and they are all smooshy and blotchy and cone-headed. But, in that moment they are put in your arms, crying and squirming, there is nothing more beautiful than that.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 17, 2011

      i think with parents with young kids naturally get exercise through freeform living room dancing… :)

      Reply
  • seekingpastor

    March 17, 2011

    Pigs are ugly, but we get bacon from them–which makes them beautiful.

    Reply
    • Jim F

      March 17, 2011

      That made me laugh!

      Reply
    • Dustin

      March 17, 2011

      Excellent example. Bacon is glorious.

      Reply
  • ThatGuyKC

    March 17, 2011

    I love that my wife has a different perspective than me. Never ceases to amaze me how God designed us complementary.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 17, 2011

      Us too.. so different sometimes, yet great complements.

      Reply
  • Jim F

    March 17, 2011

    I run but generally on a treadmill and I look out the window of the Y when doing it. I actually thought the other day – this is not the best view – I am going to have to start looking with a new perspective – a more godly one.

    Good thoughts!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 17, 2011

      Perspective. Flip it around, look at it differently, and things change. Thanks for sharing, Jim.

      Reply
  • Duane Scott

    March 18, 2011

    One question: How did you get your wife to run with you? Mine can’t keep up and I’m not nice enough to just walk. :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 18, 2011

      Probably b/c she was the runner before I started…. and she runs faster than me. So I’m always keeping up :)

      Reply
  • mo

    March 23, 2011

    I used to think abandoned buildings were always ugly, until I started living in cities. We’ve certainly got our fair share here in the D. I’ve learned to have an appreciation for them.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      March 24, 2011

      I have a buddy who was born and raised in Detroit – he always says the same thing. THanks for sharing, Mo.

      Reply

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