Tuesday, April 30, 2013

If You Want Your Life Canvas to be Colorful, You've Got to Pick up the Paint Brush

I got a B in elementary school art.  For some that doesn’t mean anything but for my fellow perfectionists you will completely understand when I say I recoiled from all things art related.  My little mind processed the “less than exceptional” mark to mean that I was bad at it and I just wanted to be done.  I’d choose long division over that blank piece of paper any day and when the opportunity came for me to pick my specials you better believe I stayed far away from the art wing.

I’d like to say this childish mentality left me but it wouldn’t be true.  I’d still prefer to sit down with the kids to help with homework, or play games, or do a “dance recital,” or at least color because the coloring book affords me known boundaries and a definite end point. 
I find comfort when I know I will have a “successful” end result.

Today Hannah was playing without abandon.  Her braids bounced with her step and her giggles filled the room.  It was a moment I wish I could bottle up and store forever.  Exuding the innocence of youth, her eyes glistened and she was loving every second of my full attention (something I know won’t be the case years down the road).  A stolen glance at the calendar made clear that she has only has five days of preschool left before preschool graduation.  In a matter of months these late morning snuggles and afternoon play dates on her days off will be a thing of the past.  And, in true mother form, I kicked myself for not cherishing every second I’ve had.  Especially since she was being so cute and listening so well today. 
Every honest parent admits that makes a difference.

“Mom, want to paint?”

Suddenly I saw the elementary school me.  The one that couldn’t quite get my abstract shapes right.  The one whose colors bled together and proved the color wheel correct when I wasn’t supposed to.  The one who couldn’t quite get things the way I wanted them to look.

The honest answer was “no.”  But, this was a five year old girl, my girl, asking for my heart not exemplary skill. 
Before I knew it the paints and paint brushes were organized in front of her on the table.  Carefully selecting her color, she started painting a heart.  “We can take turns and work together on the same page.”
 
 

So I took my cutie pie up on her invitation despite my artistic inadequacies. 
Sometimes the young make us brave.

I didn’t know what to do and when she first handed me the brush I fumbled.  So many colors.  So many options.  A blank canvas in territory that didn’t feel familiar.
Will what I do even be recognizable?

I started making a heart.  It’s a basic shape but as I did so Hannah was peering over my shoulder whispering,

“That’s so pretty.”
I smiled knowing somehow her affirmation unleashed silly strong holds and I got daring enough to try entangled hearts to say they were like ours and eventually a man in a tie and woman in a cute dress to be my husband and I.  Actually, the girl was trendier than I am but that’s beside the point.  As long as I was trying to be more creative I figured I could dream of what the trendy me looks like too, right? J

This looks so beautiful.  This is going to be so pretty, mom,” Hannah’s whisper continued over and over again until our paper was filled with color.  Hannah declared it officially complete and asked to teach me how to play “Mr. Fox, What Time is It?” while it dried. 
Skipping her way to the bathroom, Hannah went to wash her hands and I started placing lids on the paint before game time.

“If you’re gutsy enough to try working on the same page with me I could show you new successes too.”
Somehow Hannah’s repeated whisper over me as I tried something outside of my comfort zone caused me to envision the way God must champion us as we accept His invitation to try things without condition.  I happily do the things I know will lead to success, but I am far more hesitant to follow His call when it causes me to question myself.

Success isn’t innate.  It is always birthed out of a God-given gift.  But I’m pretty sure I limit the success the Lord dreams for me because I’m afraid that I’ll fail.
Can you relate?

Pick up the paint brush, my friend, and hear Him whispering over you.  That’s so pretty.”  I think we’ll all climb to new heights.

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