Painting parties. You know, the ones where they give you step-by-step instructions as to how to create your own masterpiece? My daughter has been to birthday parties where this was the activity, my church hosts a painting night each quarter and there are even businesses with their own storefronts offering this service.
I’ve attended a few such parties at my church, and I can clearly remember my first. Before we even started painting, the facilitator gave us a few deep questions to ponder and then asked us to write our answers on our canvas. Gasp, on our canvas?
But that’s where my masterpiece was going to be created, I thought. Yet, the rule-follower I am, I did as I was told and wrote personal answers to thoughtful questions in the lightest pencil possible.
Soon after we began painting a flower and sure enough, the pencil markings started to fade with each layer of paint. Only I, the creator, would know they were always there. I painted a large yellow daisy in the center of a sky-blue background. At one point I really wanted to have the sun beaming down on my flower.
The vision in my head was so clear, but when I tried, it looked awful. In my angst I asked the facilitator how I could fix it. She smiled kindly and said if I was patient and let the paint dry, then I could paint over my mistake.
Watching the paint dry was tough. I had to sit there feeling uncomfortable as I stared at my imperfections. Yet as the time passed my feeling of failure was replaced with excitement to try again. As she promised, once the paint was dry, I was able to try again and paint over my flaws.
That’s when it hit me. Her focus wasn’t to try and teach me how to paint a flower, she was giving me a lesson in life through those paints, brushes and canvas. In life you cannot erase, just like a painting.
When we do something we aren’t proud of or just doesn’t feel right, we have no choice but to be uncomfortable while we watch the paint dry. Through patience and time, we can learn from our mistakes. They will never completely go away, but we are able add a new layer, to try and do better.
Just like the painting, each pencil mark, each stroke, good or bad, is part of the picture, part of our story. Our masterpiece, our life, is always in the works.