A few years ago I found myself in an art museum with just my infant. We were waiting for my older daughter while she attended a teen art club at the museum. We wandered until my little baby declared herself hungry. I sat down in from of some impressionist painting and nursed my baby then rocked her to sleep. My aching arms led me to lay her down on the padded bench beside me. I had an inordinate amount of time to stare at the paintings in this one room.
When you have that amount of time, you notice different things. I looked at the different way they painted trees and where they were in the painting. The older daughter I was waiting on was, and actually still is, a tree lover. I noticed the people in the paintings and created back stories for them. I noticed that one of the paintings had a paint brush hair stuck in the paint. I didn’t really think about that much at the time. Relaxing in that art gallery was a fabulous way to spend an afternoon.
I have thought about that brush hair. I know it’s not unusual, specially in impressionist paintings with their strong, short brush strokes, to have a paintbrush shed. Whether it ruins the painting, or makes it more real, is completely up to the viewer.
I have always felt that God is an artist. His use of color is astounding-who else can make orange and blue look so amazing together? Who else loves that much variety and has that much attention to detail?
If God is an artist, I have imagined myself as a paintbrush. You know those beautiful paintbrushes you see in art stores that are cut perfectly and so soft and flexible, the brushes that make you think you could paint anything? I’m not one of those. I’m bristly and uneven and multicolored. I’d probably work well for an impressionist painting-I’m … trying to think of a way to say stubborn without really saying it… I’m determined? fixed in my purpose? I’m afraid I shed sometimes, and possibly leaving my mark in places in which God could have done a fabulous job of only leaving His work.
I have wondered as I’ve interacted with others who seem to shed with annoying regularity in my direction, or towards my children…how does God stay so patient? Can you imagine attempting a painting with a brush that fights back or has a mind of it’s own? A brush that wants to take credit for the masterpiece? A brush that resists plucking a stray hair, or a good soak to soften it up. A brush that does shed but plucks it’s own bristles and places them on the painting.
I know God wants us to learn. I know well as a parent how exhausting it can be to train children to help, encourage, motivate, teach, the clean up after the help, the “help” that seemed to slop over everywhere. All their help taking far longer than me just finishing the job myself. How patient God must be to watch us “help”.
He sends His spirit children to earth and watches even the best parents…learn how to love, not in a gym, or practice room with a prop, but in the nursery at 3am with His very beloved child.
In any case, I have found repeatedly that when I am focusing on the one little “flaw” I am not looking at the whole picture. Next time I feel the presence of a brush hair, I hope I can remember to take a step back and trust that the same artist who brought me sunsets and waterfalls and baby toes, can work another masterpiece.
Life is not a post card, it is not a print. It’s a masterpiece in all it’s paint splotched, sometimes glumpy, brush hair, sometimes cracked, amazing glory. The flaws don’t mean it’s not a masterpiece, they just are evidence of God’s grace and power in our lives. He can make of all the flaws, a masterpiece.
Britt grew up in a family of six brothers and one sister and gained a bonus sister later. She camped in the High Sierras, canoed down the Colorado, and played volleyball at Brigham Young University. She then served a mission to South Africa. With all of her time in the gym and the mountains and South Africa, she was totally prepared to become the mother of 2 sons and soon to be 9 daughters. By totally prepared she means willing to love them and muddle through everything else in a partially sleepless state. She is mostly successful at figuring out how to keep the baby clothed, or at least diapered, though her current toddler is challenging this skill. She feels children naturally love to learn and didn’t want to disrupt childhood curiosity with worksheets and school bells. She loves to play in the dirt, read books, go on adventures, watch her children discover new things, and mentor her children. Her oldest child is currently at a community college and her oldest son is going to high school at a public school. She loves to follow her children in their unique paths and interests. She loves to write because, unlike the laundry and the dishes, writing stays done. Whenever someone asks her how she does it all she wonders what in the world they think she’s doing.