Imagine if you will for a second, the very first masterpiece your first born child every created. If your kids are anything like mine it wasn’t a beautiful melody on the piano or a perfectly sculpted piece of clay. It wasn’t reminiscent of a Monet or Rembrandt. No, it was more like a haphazardly created circle drawn with crayon on a white sheet of paper. It had huge circles for eyes and a single line smile and arms and legs in the form of semi-straight lines coming straight out of the circle.
To anyone else it may not look like much more than scribbles, but to you? To you it was a masterpiece. It wasn’t because of the perfection it beheld or the choice of colour used. It wasn’t because of perfect placement on the paper or the artistic interpretation of where the eyes should be. No, it was because when they slid that paper over to you and said, “It’s for you, mama,” your heart swelled and you looked at them, your child, and you saw their eyes beaming and their little smile and their pudgy hands and it really didn’t matter what was on that paper. You loved it.
Here’s what I’m pretty positive didn’t happen.
Your child slid that paper over to you and said, “It’s for you, mama,” and you picked it up and furrowed your eyebrows and turned your face into a look of disgust. Then, glancing up at them you used words like, not centered, poor colour choice, are you kidding me, ridiculous, and you know that arms and legs don’t come straight out of heads, right? Following that you crumpled the paper up into a ball, tossed it in the trash, brushed your hands together and proclaimed, “That’s the only place THAT belongs,” and ended off with a sneer and a comment about maybe trying a little harder next time.
No, we take hold of that paper and we gush to them about how amazing it is and we find a place of honour on the fridge and we smile each time we look at it. Because it’s awesome? Well, in a certain sense yes but more so because we love them. We can admit that it’s not going to be in a museum anytime soon and Ellen won’t be calling to feature our little artiste extraodinaire and most people who walk by our fridge won’t even give it a second glance.
The posture we take and the action we put forth and the emotion we share doesn’t come from the work they’ve produced. It comes from love.
We don’t desecrate their art by crumpling it up. We look at them in love and beam, “Yes!! Keep at it! Don’t stop! You can do it!”
We look at them and we say, “I love you! Because you are mine!”
I don’t know about you but I know I’m my own worst critic. (or at least I think I am. If there’s a worse one out there I’m afraid to meet you!) I can sit and stew for hours about past things I should have done. Thoughts can reel over and over in my mind like a movie projector questioning why I didn’t do something sooner or say something better or opened my hands more freely or spoken more readily.
I can beat myself up endlessly for the things I haven’t done. For the multiple times I’ve driven past the tents of the homeless community without even slowing, eyes only looking sideways to see for the sake of watching the train wreck. For the hundreds of people I’ve passed in the streets asking for change, nodding my head and muttering my sorries but not being willing to look them in the eye. For the friends who were hurting that I forgot to call and the babies that were born that I didn’t make a meal for and the event that I didn’t volunteer to sell hot dogs at and the time I was late and the other time I cancelled and the millions of times that what I wanted seemed more important than anyone else and my time more valuable than serving and my fears greater than the need.
I really only need to replay the last week to hit most of these.
I struggle with feeling like I’m not doing enough, not caring enough, not giving enough, not speaking enough. I feel like my life is made up of missed moments. Mistakes. Should of’s and could have’s. I feel like my circle has one side too flat and another side to warbly and the ends don’t even meet up properly. I feel like I’ve misplaced the eyes and drawn on the smile in a thin, curt line. And let’s face it, some days my arms and legs are coming straight out of my head instead of out of my body which houses my heart.
I’m learning though, be it ever so slowly, that my Father, he’s not looking at the drawing and assessing my abilities. He’s not critiquing my skills from on high with an arrogance or expectation that I should be producing a Van Gogh or a Picasso. Nor is he wanting me to be the next Warhol, mimicking others with repetition, flare and a pop of colour.
He’s not taking stock of my life or my works or my choices and crumpling them up in a ball, tossing them in the trash and brushing his hands of it. He’s not proclaiming that maybe I should just try harder or do better or for pete’s sake, get it already! He’s not yelling that what I’ve created is worthless and when am I ever going to learn that arms and legs don’t come straight out of heads!
No. He’s looking at me with incredible love, as I hand him my life and say, “It’s for you.” He’s looking with more love than I could ever comprehend. More love than I could possibly feel when my heart melts as my boy hands me his drawing. More love than my mind can understand when he takes me and finds the prettiest magnet and displays what I’ve created in a place of honour before the banquet table.
Because the posture He takes and the action He puts forth and the emotion He shares doesn’t come from the work I’ve produced. It comes from love.
He doesn’t desecrate our art by crumpling us up. He looks at us in love and beams, “Yes!! Keep at it! Don’t stop! You can do it!”
He looks at us and says, “I love you. Not for what you’ve done but because you are mine.”