We could hear it in the background, serenading us as we shoveled chips and salsa and sipped on margaritas. Those crazy brave people singing karaoke in the back. We cringed as girls sang One Direction and laughed as bold men sang their hearts out to the classics.
We finished our meals and suddenly my friend turned to me and said, “We should do it. We should do karaoke.” In a sudden moment of margarita bravery I said, YES!
We walked back to the Karaoke room, where we found little children dancing and old people singing “Landslide” and “Blue Bayou.” The lights were on and several tables of people sat and watched as people performed. And suddenly these people were really good at karaoke.
Lingering in the back of the room, I racked my brain for all the excuses. How can I get out of this? My friends were doing the same thing, and finally we convinced ourselves that it just wasn’t our night.
For the record (because I know you were wondering), this is my if-I-ever-do-Karaoke song list:
- Gangster’s Paradise – Coolio
- I Will Always Love You – Whitney Houston
- I’m Not the Only One – Sam Smith
- Diva – Beyoncé
- Anything by N’Sync
Aaaaand moving on.
So then later in the week, that same friend and I sat at a different restaurant and cried over the real hard stuff of life – and we realized how great of an analogy this was, this experience of (not) singing karaoke. For doing (or not doing) the hard things. It is always the hard things that make a great story. Nothing great ever came out of Well, we almost did karaoke…but then we didn’t. No one wants to hear that story. (Which, I realize, is the story I just told you.)
We want the great story, right? We all want the amazing story of how God worked in our lives and how good He is and that it all ends up right in the end.
The thing is, we have to walk through it all first. We have to embrace the hard. We have to actually grab the microphone and sing karaoke! (Cue Martina McBride: Sing it anywayyyyy…)
We can all agree, can’t we, that life is just hard sometimes?
But can’t we also all agree that it is often (or always) so beautiful?!
They walk hand in hand – Challenge and Beauty – one so stubborn and persistent, the other soft and shy. Challenge forces us to be stronger, like a trainer at the gym that just won’t let you stop. Beauty lets us breath, and carries us when we can’t walk on our own.
Each season of life possesses both challenge and beauty.
In Psalm 23, David says, Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.
It isn’t since You are with me, I don’t have to walk through the valley. Life requires walking through the hard. There is a one hundred percent guarantee that there will be valleys to walk through. We can’t avoid those. We have to lean in.
Take dating for example. It is a shadowy scary valley, y’all. You married people have selective amnesia about how terrible it is (except for a few of you – BLESS you). But if you want the story – if you want the beauty of marriage – you (and I) have to walk through the valley.
I wrote myself this little pep talk recently, feel free to sticky note it on your mirror:
It is always easier to take yourself out of the game –
To quit while it is still safe,
To leave before you have been left.
But you need to LEAN IN –
Embrace it all – the good, the hard, the messy, the awkward.
Get out there – try. That is always something to be proud of.
While this can apply to dating, it really applies to all the challenges. You want a new job? Lean in. You want to grow in your friendships? Lean in. You want to trust God more? LEAN. IN.
Making space for the beautiful requires walking through the hard.
Life is always a search for the JOY and the beauty that are guaranteed to be found.
What is your valley right now? Where is it dark? Do you feel God with you in it?
You always have the choice – to be ruined by the hard or be renewed by the good. In every circumstance, every valley, every moment. Look for Beauty – she always wants to be found. She is the twin sister of JOY, but is often found running around with Challenge.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5). I was reminded of this verse when thinking about the journey through the hard and the good. There is always a Light who shines in the darkness of our lives, who gives us permission to be brave, and the ability to see beauty.
There is always a Light who shines in the darkness of our lives, who gives us permission to be brave, and the ability to see beauty.
That Light burned brightly for us on the hill at Calvary, and then did away with all the darkness permanently when He defeated death and sin. He came so that there can be beauty in the challenge. He came so that we can be brave without fear.
Be brave, my friends. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes being brave means saying no (like maybe it was brave of us to say no to karaoke in a well-lit, family-filled room? no?). Sometimes it means leaning in and taking some chances. Take the risk; you will always end up with a good story.
Cheers to the beautiful and brave,