Half of the fingernails on my hands still show remnants of nail polish. It looks pretty awful. People might notice it and think, Really? You can’t take just five minutes to wipe off the chunks of color that haven’t flaked off already?
And I could. It probably wouldn’t even take five minutes. It’s not that I don’t have the time or that I’m being lazy. I just don’t want to.
You see, my daughter painted my nails almost a month ago. She’s five—they were never pretty to start with. They were sloppy with small strips at the edges left unpainted.
Asking her to paint my nails was an attempt to draw out some life and joy from her sick little eyes. She hadn’t eaten or drunk anything for 48 hours. She had been put under anesthesia for stitches in her lip, but even with her mouth repaired, she wasn’t eating, drinking, talking, or smiling.
She wasn’t really doing anything.
I bragged that my daughter had painted my nails as the nurses prepared a bag of IV fluids for her. I looked at those nails as I held her hand while we drove hours to the nearest children’s hospital. And my poorly painted nails held her hair back as she vomited despite the emptiness of her stomach.
Today, those moments seem like such a long time ago. The only evidence of that long, difficult week is a faint scar below her bottom lip. But these partially painted nails remind me.
And I don’t want to lose that reminder. I want to remember the hard times. I want to remember the struggles we faced.
Such a strange thing to want to remember difficulty. But if I live my life looking back through rose-colored glasses, I’m afraid it cheapens my existence on this earth. Remembering only the good times causes me to forget the strength I didn’t know I had. It ignores the perseverance it took to survive the trial. And it gives the false impression that life—Christian life—is a smooth trip down easy street.
I want to remember the tough times because they show God’s faithfulness to me.
They remind me that even in the worst places, He was there. They remind me that when I had no strength, He held me up. Even in some of the most challenging seasons of life, God was preparing the beautiful parts.
I don’t want to forget or hide the ugly to glorify the beautiful.
I’m not saying we air our dirty laundry for all the neighbors to see. But I do think there is value in sharing the hard parts of our story with others. I don’t think we should feel pressured into hiding the challenges we’ve faced in an attempt to save face. Instead, in recognizing our own struggles, we can help others feel less alone in theirs. Let’s not sugarcoat our memories, glazing over the hard stuff with sweet moments of beauty.
Friends, it’s tempting to highlight the best parts of our lives and to look back over the years showcasing only the beautiful moments—like a slideshow playing in the background at a celebratory party. But let’s not forget the trials and struggles and challenges.
Let’s not ignore the reality that life is hard and God is still good.
Let’s shed light on the ugly and the hard because it glorifies God.
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12-13).