WHEN LIFE ISN'T FAIR.
Some time ago I reported my escapade with a leaky bucket of paint, that left a mess I had to sop up with plenty of paper towels. And I shared how I’d saved the blottings for backgrounds of future artworks.
The paper towel with the thickest soppings was crumpled and gooey and unmanageable. I couldn’t really flatten it onto a newspaper backing. So I left it to dry out while draped loosely over a cardboard box. The paint, of course, stuck to the box – mostly. The drapes and folds protrude, but probably would sag over time from moisture in the air.
I’m an artist who loves to make backgrounds. Sometimes, the odder the better. My intention is always to draw or paint or glue on objects of interest for the foregrounds. But that part of making art scares me! A lot! What if I can’t find or make something that takes best advantage of the blots and scribblings in the background? What if I my point of interest happens to hide the very best part of a dramatic background? What if I don’t like my artwork when I’m done? When am I going to have time to create the wild and wonderful foregrounds I envision in mind? In fact, do I even have the skill to draw and paint, or cut out, the perfect shapes for things I’m not used to drawing?
It’s not fair to have big dreams for art, but not to be sure I can satisfy myself (or others). Will what I make, be worth the long struggle to pull things together? Or will I FAIL, as I often feel like I do?
Maybe first, before I try to create a unified work, I need to lay out some elements. See if I come up with something I like. Interesting colors, or shapes, or sizes, or ??? In this instance, I laid some objects (that just happened to be in the room) with the draped box. I could be as whimsical as I liked, since the objects weren’t meant to be a permanent attachment.
The randomly chosen objects were: A chenille bird (from a rummage sale). A little tree-shrub I’d cut from cardboard. My art abstract: “White half-tailed Manx cat sleeping on rug” (translation: pulled-apart cotton puff, frayed burlap scrap, good imagination).
Quirky, yes. Whimsical. The odd bits and pieces, placed together, made a fun photo! With a background, textures, a foreground, and other interesting points.
Sometimes, our lives seem unfair. We dream of wonderful lives filled with achievements and earthly rewards. We’d like to have good friends and family, a peaceful existence, enough money to live on, enough food to eat, enough deep sense of God in our lives to feel “satisfied” and running over with blessings.
And then “real life” happens. Bad things happen to good people. Almost everyone goes through struggles. Griefs, sorrows, loss, embarrassments, put-downs, abuse. Disappointment, discontent, heartache, failure, poor attitudes, poverty, disease, wars and rumors of wars. A lot of odd pieces get slung at us; we sigh because we can’t make sense of what is happening. We think we’ve been handed more than we can cope with.
I have to keep telling myself that it’s not what happens in this life -- but what I do with what has happened. Scratch that! It’s really what I allow God to work within me. Am I going to be bitter, or better? Do I hate myself for failing, or look for his rainbows? Resent the stones that have tumbled into my path, or ask him to lead me around or over them? Am I too scared to keep trying? Will I dwell on the past until I miss the beauties and the God-gifts of the present moment? Or do I try to see the odd pieces of seeming strangeness or disaster, as lessons in beholding the beauty and presence of the Lord in spite of everything?
I can’t stop all failures. I can’t do away with all fears. I may not be able to change all the textures I have to deal with. It’s natural to feel scared, defenseless, broadsided, hurt or wounded. But I can try – sometimes with gritted teeth or a doubtful heart, to be sure – to keep offering to open my clenched fists. Dear God, I ask you to shape me into the person you meant all along for me to be.
This post is also shared with L L Barkat's "Seedlings in Stone" On, In, or Around Mondays
and Laura Boggess' "The Wellspring" Playdates with God.