Behold, the 1982 Chevrolet Citation. Not only is it one of the ugliest cars ever built, but likely one of mankind’s most hideous creations ever. This very make and model down to the color and even various rust spots is the very same make and model that Colby, Tyson, Casey, and I drove in high school. This car had a face that only a mother (it’s driver) could love. While the story of the “ugly duckling” makes for a wonderful story about the beauty that later develops… this car started as an ugly duckling and simply developed into a somehow even uglier older duckling that contracted leprosy and aged terribly. All these reasons are partly why what I’m going to ask you all to do now is so hard, maybe even impossible, but I’d like you to try it.

Take one more look at this car, yes I know it hurts your eyes but do it. Now I want you to see the charm and beauty in this car. Yes, I realize what I’ve just asked you to do. I also realize this is like asking a high school girl to see the beauty in her blind date who is cross eyed, smells like urine and stale Chinese food, only has 7 teeth (which are all crooked), and just picked his nose and ate it. This is difficult yes, but it can be done. In fact, I’ll help you. Take another look at this car. Ignore its repulsive overall appearance. Ignore its rust spots and unsightly color that didn’t even look good straight off the showroom floor. Ignore its nauseating hubcaps which against all odds manage to make the car even more unappealing and tell me what you do see…

Still a big old pile of junk not fit for even scrap metal right? Now let me tell you what I see. All joking about its grotesque appearance aside, I see majestic beauty.

So how is it that we see two completely different things when we are looking at the same object? I think it’s because I see the “inner” beauty this car has. I pull a “Belle” and see past the ugly outward appearance of “The Beast”. I look past the fact that it’s superficially as pretty as an inbred mountain troll and look deeper. I see the various layers this car has and its potential. Simply put, we “see” differently which leads us to perceive differently.

I see a car with a rich history behind it. A car that somehow was able to withstand the rigors and abuse of being driven by 4 consecutive teenage boys. I see a car that went camping, to friend’s houses, and hosted many of fun times. A car so BAD it was GOOD. I see a car that died a legend and a symbol at our house. A car that if it could speak would tell some hilarious stories including its usage as a low speed bumper car, it’s sideways radio that reset every time you took the keys out, the time Casey managed to get it’s engine coolant boiling, it’s being involved in a felony and multiple brushes with potential death due to random occasions when the brakes failed, or accelerator “stuck”. Finding the beauty in ugly can be done… I’ve just proven it. The same can be done in trials If we look for it. I’ve mentioned this before but trials are the precursors to blessings. I will take it one step further and even say that trials are blessings in disguise. There are always blessings in trials, they are always there, we just have to look at them and “see” our trials differently.

Let me give you one more example. While I was in High School and driving this vomit inducing rust bucket I often worked at my Grandpa’s house in his huge and beautiful yard. While pulling weeds with my wise, faithful, amazing, and incredible Grandpa he would at times mention something to the likes of “you know why we are pulling weeds right?… because God allows thistles and noxious weeds to afflict and torment man!” I would smile and agree completely. I hated weeds. I saw them as ugly, invasive, pesky, relentless invaders with no possible inner beauty. I saw the weeds back then like you see this car now. I understood his statement for exactly what was it was superficially: God created the weeds and allows them to grow in the middle of the beautiful flowers to afflict us. I could likely qualify roasting in the heat of the day in the summer sun with skin tone similar to Snow White while pulling weeds out of the soil torment or affliction. As I look back now, those very weeds provided me the opportunity to get to know my Grandpa better, a man I quickly grew to respect a tremendous amount and who taught me more and I love more than he’ll ever realize. It provided me with ample time to dig sprinkler trenches, and shovel turkey poop into his garden while listening to his wise lessons for life. They provided me with the funds to hang out with friends and buy junk food. Back then I didn’t “see” the blessings in disguise.

But, it gets better. I also “see” the layers in the statement about noxious weeds I didn’t see before. In fact now, that exact same statement is actually borderline hilarious. Let me tell you what I “see” with that statement now.

I see that God is permanently in our corner rooting and fighting for us. He is hopelessly, helplessly, endlessly, relentlessly, trying to help us. He can’t help but help us. We are being rewarded constantly even when it appears or we perceive a situation as a punishment. There is beauty in ALL things regardless of how ugly they appear.

Why do I say that and how is it that yet again while looking at an identical object we “see” it differently? How can our high school girl example look past the hideous, boogey eating, cross eyed Neanderthal across the table and see nothing but perfect future husband material simply oozing with handsome and dapper charm?

Here goes the long explanation. I work with various botanicals, plants, shrubs, trees, barks, leaves, and flowers on a daily basis. Technically I am a “Certified Master Herbalist” although I’m usually referred to by one of the following names: herb dork, herb guy, herby nerdy, hippy, crazy or weirdo. Long story short I have studied various plants and their potential benefits for years. So what exactly are these “thistles and noxious weeds” that God sends to “torment and afflict” us?

Here is a list of only 5 of the most common “thistles or noxious weeds” in my area along with a brief one sentence description of their common uses or potential health benefits:

Holy Thistle: One of the oldest and longest used herbs for aiding in lactation, and various female or reproductive complaints regardless of age.

Dandelion: Sky high levels of plant based absorbable iron to combat anemia, one of the best and most reliable and effective hepatic tonics known along with being a great detoxifier.

Wild Lettuce: One of the most effective and able nerve tonics in the botanical world to counter act spasm, twitch or any involuntary movement. (In fact, it was featured on Dr. Oz)

Purslane: The highest plant based source of Omega 3 discovered thus far, more carotene than carrots and enough melatonin to naturally aid in supporting and modulating proper sleep cycles.

Red Clover: Tops in nearly every herbalists book as an extremely effective blood purifier and an herb often used to support the balance of estrogen in estrogen deficient women.

Suddenly, you realize that God sent and allows “weeds” in our lives yes… but extremely beneficial weeds. Sure, he might have thrown us in the deep end of the pool a time or two, but we had a life preserver waiting for us. He provides love, light, mercy, beauty and hope in everything. In the most ugly he embeds beauty. It is his way, it is his only way. We just need to work on “seeing” differently.