The Big Picture

I took my first painting class this week.

Please understand. I’m a word girl, and that’s it. Zero percent of my talent allotment went to being artistic.

To me, a few well-chosen words can paint a thousand pictures.

Even my walls are decorated with words.

But I always wanted to learn to paint. To express feelings with color. To create in a completely different way.

I never expected to be good at it, so I jumped at the opportunity to spend a night out with friends and raise a few dollars for cancer research in our area.

A win-win situation, right?

It was. Until the instructor handed me a few brushes, a couple of colors on a paper plate, and a blank canvas.

The instructor was great, but it was hard to hear her over the negative voices in my head. She broke it down into simple steps, but I found ways to make them more difficult. I had too much water on my brush, so the paint dribbled down and took forever to dry. Spots of canvas still showed through in some areas, and I never even made it to the last couple of steps.

The people at my table sounded like they were struggling as well, but when I walked around to compare my picture to their’s, they were wrong. There pictures were beautiful, and closely resembled the one the instructor just finished as an example.

“Now that you’re finished, top off your flowers with a little glitter so they will better reflect the light.”

Glitter? My flowers, if you could even call them that, were far from being ready for the glitter phase. My outlines were too wide and weren’t really even lines at all. My hands were too shaky to do anything I asked them to do.

There I was, in a room full of people who were ready to reflect the light, and I was ready to turn off the lights and take my painting home to hide in a closet somewhere.

My canvas deserved so much better.

But then the instructor said this.

“It’s important to realize that paintings are meant to be displayed on a wall; viewed from a distance of about four feet away. They won’t be on an easel where you are studying them up close. They won’t be next to your friend’s or next to mine, and no one will know what anyone else’s looked like once you get it home.”

She was right.

As women, and humans, I don’t know why we do that to ourselves. Comparing ourselves to others is a trap, and a recipe for disaster. Picking ourselves apart in front of the mirror or on a scale or in a photo will never help us reflect God’s love or light to the world.

Truth is, as a person, there are times I really don’t have it together. My canvas may be showing through in some spots. My paint may run and I may never reach the glitter phase.

But it’s in these moments of being real that I can truly reflect the light. God most likely had no intention of using my painting abilities to reach His world. He knew better.

But he also knew that this would help me learn a few things about myself. Life lesson to remember each time I passed my sad little painting on the wall.

I took a painting class this week.

And it definitely won’t be my last.

Janet Morris Grimes

Janet is the author of the book, The Parent's Guide to Uncluttering Your Home, released in 2011 through Atlantic Publishing. A wife and mother of three, Janet currently writes from Vine Grove, Kentucky on such topics as faith, family, and forever. She writes for Nashville Arts & Entertainment Magazine among other publications, and is an aspiring novelist. For additional information on Janet, visit her website at http://janetmorrisgrimes.com.

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