Do you ever feel like you are walking through a landscape of gray days? Do you wake up to lusterless? Go through your day through a sheen of blah? Ever think about how you color your world? What does the palette of your past look like? the hues of your future? The painting of your present?
Shortly after I retired, I went back to the elementary school where I was taught for 14 years and I was nervous. I was afraid I would be melancholy and regret my difficult decision to leave. When I walked out the door on that last day (after a week of kind sentiments from beloved parents and students, and the incredible people I worked with) I painted my 26 year long teaching experience with rosy colors- shades of purples and pinks.
Six months later, I attended a birthday lunch at the school in honor of my amazing principal and as I walked in, the rosy picture became splattered with the challenging browns and stressful fire reds of real elementary school. As co-workers told the adventures of the day (there is never a dull moment in elementary school) I remembered. The colors morphed and deepened. Then I walked down the old familiar halls to visit my previous students. Amidst the hugs, the tears, the joy of seeing them the grays muted. A vibrant rainbow- a kaleidoscope burst forth- a “whole picture” active and alive with glorious hue. By the time I climbed into my car to leave, I took with me an authentic portrait of my school career painted with all the colors of joy and struggles and I knew that (at least for now) it was time for new experiences in a different field. As I drove away, I was so thankful to have worked so many years at a job of many colors.
For a long time, I looked at my childhood through one monochromatic lens. It was coal black. a picture of worthlessness, hurt, and anger. Then one day I learned about a Savior who had forgiven me and I made the decision to pick up the brush and apply some forgiveness to the canvas of my own past. The black page became animated with streaks of tangerine orange and pear green. Wow! It was a silent shout- a different perspective- a more authentic depiction. I added lemon yellow gratitude, and candy red lessons-learned and the past became a new likeness-the black was still there but now infused with pigments that were simply beautiful.
I applied the same strokes of forgiveness, gratitude, and lessons-learned to my past failed relationships-deeply etched with “victim gray”. It worked! The swirling distortion of the picture of my past began to unbend and untwist into a true and rich landscape. Yes, there are hurts, even devastating betrayals, but there is much more. A whole healing picture!
To the blank canvas of my future I add a different color scheme. To the ashen gray of worry, “what ifs”, or fear, I try to roll on those incredible colors of purple: lavender and lilac, plum and pomegranate and all those royal shades in between. It is a mix of red and blue. It is hope. Adding hope to what the future might look like turns a dim sketch into a mural of possibilities.
I have a choice about how to color my day today. I can let the leaden charcoal of discouragement, worry, fear, anger, etc. (and believe me sometimes I do) color my present or I can primer my daily canvas with an openness to a “whole picture” perspective. Then add a background of forgiveness (sometimes in spurts all day), gratitude, and lessons-learned. I can then splash my picture with hope (even dot the whole thing with apple-red adventure) and finally, seal it with a protective sheen of faith. I am not always good at this. In fact, somedays are a combination of gray and/or black-an accumulation of all colors but lacks the Light to allow them to show. Once in a while even picking up the brush is a struggle, but if I try, I am often rewarded with a rainbow of richness- all part of this illustration of my life.
- Forgiveness: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Mark 11:25
- Gratitude: And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17
- Lessons-Learned: But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:25
- Hope: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.Romans 15:13
- Faith: Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
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