What is More Beautiful Than Necessary?

In my 20s and 30s I focused a lot on productivity. I had the checklists and charts, the card file loaded with index cards for each day of the year, the detailed chore chart. I worshiped pragmatism and frugality, and Jesus.

I was a new mom, a new Christian, and I felt like rules would help me do everything correctly, which seemed very important if I wanted to please God. Armed with all the self-help, Christian Living, Do Better/Be Better books I could find, I thought life should unfold before me with the blessings of Mt. Gerizim


I do everything right; God blesses me.

Life became overwhelming and I grew tired and cynical. This seems like a natural progression—so obvious now—but with a little grace I see that my past-self needed some rails to run by, and I don’t begrudge or belittle the habits and disciplines I formed. They were good for a time, but something was missing.


I had Truth, and made a desperate attempt to live black-and-white. I strove for Goodness, and wanted to live virtuously. But I had fragmented myself and dismissed Beauty as something unnecessary and wasteful—worldly, even.

I’m still learning. In times of stress or overwhelm I still think a good planner and the perfect to-do list will revive me, and my first thought in a crisis is usually what did I do wrong, that God would punish me like this?

But slowly I have learned to value beauty more than practicality. I have stopped running (literally) and started enjoying hikes and long walks. I am much less dogmatic about non-essentials. I believe in ambiguity. I plant more flowers and fewer vegetables, and sometimes I get really wild and buy flowers at the grocery store—the ultimate frivolity. I see the trinity of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the character of Jesus and I’m made whole by accepting all three.

More Beautiful Than Necessary is my two-fold way of saying:

  1. God is more beautiful, and has made the world and everything in it more beautiful, than was ever necessary. Even one variety of fruit tree, one species of animal, one shade of green would have been a gift. One personality, one ethnicity, one language would have been sufficient to create a people, but He made us in His image and look at how lavish He is. Every one of the five senses He’s given us has a myriad of ways to know His Goodness and Truth, through the Beauty of His character and creation. He’s made everything more beautiful than necessary.

  2. To need something is to make it a necessity, in the literal sense. But meeting needs is not just about food, water, clothing, shelter, and the gospel—all those things can be foisted on the world in a way that is neither Good nor Beautiful. If we are in the image of a beauty-proliferating God, who multiplies His goodness in a million beautiful ways, that must mean we have the capacity to offer Beauty to the world—through our art, our presence, our service, our words—and the responsibility to offer the world more beautiful things than necessary things. We need very little to actually survive, but we starve and fracture and hollow-out without beauty. We need things that are more beautiful than they are “necessary”.

Hey! I’m Tresta.

Me and Scout Finch

I’ve been writing online since 2012, through motherhood, homeschooling, travel, and many changes. These days I write less about my kids because they grew up and became my friends. Tim and I have been married 27 years and we’re always looking for ways to simplify our life, but we’re not doing a very good job.

In 2021 we bought a restaurant and remodeled it into a deli and market—a business we knew nothing about. We opened in January of 2022 and we know a little more now, and the beauty of being in the world of our neighbors is the reward for our labors.

I am an introverted, homebody, enneagram 9 with five grown kids, two grandkids, a dozen employees, and I also coach high school volleyball. God has obviously not asked me to operate in my strengths 🤷🏼‍♀️. But I am growing.

I write in hopes of thinking better, getting perspective, gaining peace. I share publicly so that you can feel less alone in your thoughts. Words shape worlds, and I want to shape mine, and yours, for beauty.

What happens when you subscribe?

  • Boom. Posts come right to your inbox—the goal is once a week but sometimes it might be once a month. For extra fun and more engagement, you can download the Substack app and access all your subscriptions in one place. It’s the best place on the internet.

  • You can comment on posts and interact with others, or you can respond to the email and I’ll get your words right in my inbox.

  • If I ever write that book I’ve been talking about for years, or any other fun projects, you’ll be the first to know.

  • A little bell will ding on my phone, releasing dopamine and good feelings. I will feel supported in this work, which encourages me to keep going.

Subscribe to More Beautiful Than Necessary with Tresta Payne

A newsletter about truth, goodness, and beauty.


Tresta Payne

Writing about the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (a small land, filled with confounding people and beautiful nature) so that I don't lose heart.