I have always wanted to be a great artist. When I look at a painting on the wall, I get so much from that simple canvas. Many emotions are tied in it, and I want to be able to share that with people. I want to take colors, mix them together and be left with a breathtaking piece.
Art is not my gift.
As a teacher, I strive to have my students display their learning in more ways than writing an answer on a piece of paper. In one of my reading groups, we had been talking about adaptations. We read four stories on ways animals adapt to their environments. One of the culminating activities was for the students to show an environment through a picture. They were free to pick any that appealed to them. The students had to think about what makes that environment different than others. What animals live there? What other living things can be found? How do the plants and animals adapt to survive?
Students hardly get a chance to draw because everything is text based, and students don’t receive standardized test scores for their artistic ability. Drawing is seen as a waste of time, but they needed to draw for this assignment in order to convey their ideas. A visual needed to be created in order to share their environment with the group. Of course, they jumped at this idea and did a marvelous job.
Since my students were putting in the work, I also created my own piece, but it was probably the most poorly done creation out of the group. When everyone shared, the students had so many questions about my animals. They were able to pick out a squirrel, but that was about it.
I had to give them my disclaimer. I told them I’m not an artist. That is not my gift. I even gave them permission to laugh at it, because I knew how bad it was. And some of them did, but it was all in fun. One of my students looked at the picture and said so matter-of-factly, “Mrs. Lewis, that is really bad.” He wasn’t being mean about it. He just stated the truth, and you can always count on kids to do that.
Another student raised her hand and said, “The art teacher could teach you how to draw.” She was sweet in offering to get me help so I didn’t have to be a terrible artist and be embarrassed. Those sweet students still bring up my inability to draw, and we have a good laugh.
I know in my heart I will never be as good as I want. No matter how hard I try to improve, drawing is not my calling.
This conversation with third-grade students got me thinking about gifts. So many times we want the gifts we see that others have. It looks like they have it all together. It looks like they can touch the world in a way we cannot. That is true. They are impacting lives in a completely different way. But each of us is touching the world in a way others cannot.
If we all had the same gifts, everything would be boring. There would be nothing exciting to look at. There would be no differences in what we did. God has given us specific gifts for a purpose. Looking longingly at someone else’s gift and being envious of them will take our eyes away from our own, which will prevent us from using it. Not using it means we will not have an opportunity to bring glory to God for gifting us so uniquely.
While I would still love to paint masterpieces, it’s not in the cards for me, and I’m okay with that. I can admire the gifts of other people.
Realizing that God has given me my own gifts to use gives me an excitement that can’t be beat.
I have my own purpose in this life, and I intend to fulfill it.
Photo Courtesy of Microsoft
Tynea Lewis is an elementary teacher in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She writes book reviews for Bethany House Publishers. In addition to writing reviews, she works as the site administrator for LitPick, a website showcasing book reviews written by teens and young adults. Tynea also enjoys writing short stories, novels, and poetry. One of her poems has been published by Christian Devotions.