Our home has resembled an art studio lately. A local dentist office has asked our daughters to prepare a substantial amount of artwork to be displayed on the walls and they’re busy creating.
I admire those who can paint. It’s a gift. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stared at a blank piece of canvas with paintbrush in hand and thought, surely the blank canvass is prettier than anything I can paint. I recently read a quote from the book, Art and Fear, that says, “Making art provides uncomfortably accurate feedback about that gap that inevitably exists between what you intended to do, and what you did.”
I’ve never considered myself an artist in the visual art sense, although I can relate to the quote. Not necessarily with painting—but with writing. That’s my art. I’m not perfect. Nothing I do is perfect. Nothing I say is perfect. Nothing I write is perfect. No matter how many times I edit a piece of work, I will inevitably find more mistakes. The question is, do I take the risk to create, even though I know it will never be perfect?
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An artist must have a level of vulnerability in order to create. Not only are we critics to our own work—but the world is full of critics. It’s difficult enough to draft something you hope to be beautiful, knowing there are flaws, but to make it public is even scarier. Why? Because it is scary to brave the disappointments of others.
Lysa Terkeurst, in her book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way, asks the question, “How many times have you let imperfections cause you to be too hard on yourself and too harsh with others?”
She took this attitude with her into an art show where she was able to view the works of various artists. She determined to arrive at the show with a heart of compassion for others, recognizing that, “The way we show up for a painting is a direct reflection of the way we will show up for people.” She said, “Regardless of who they are and how they are, there is only one way to stand before paintings and people. With compassion. That doesn’t mean you agree with everything they say or everything they do. But it does mean you value each of them as a person. A person who needs compassion.”
The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:12, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”
Compassion is such a beautiful word. The only way to truly come to grips with compassion is to recognize that all of us are imperfect. Rather than criticize, what if we approached one another with compassion? Comfort? Encouragement?
Ultimately, in order to respond this way, we need humility. In order to show compassion, kindness, gentleness, and patience, I believe we have to be immersed in humility. Recognizing that there are no perfect painters, no perfect authors, no perfect workers, no perfect spouses, no perfect friends, no perfect people—including ourselves.
It takes guts to present your work to the world for its scrutiny. And that work can be anything; your art, your writing, your job, your ministry… you. Mostly because we all know how painful it is to be ripped apart for our imperfections.
Instead of holding on to the ways we are not good enough, what if we found delight in what was right? What if we saw others through that lens? “Anytime we feel not good enough we deny that powerful truth that we are a glorious work of God in progress. We are imperfect because we are unfinished” (Terkeurst, 2018). Others are imperfect because they too, are unfinished.
Terkurst said, “What gives power to all that I fear others are thinking and accusing and saying isn’t the people themselves. It isn’t even the enemy. I’m the one who decides if their statements have power over me or not.” Whether or not I allow the fear of disappointing others or the fear of their criticism immobilize me, is up to me. When I walk in the knowledge of the Truth—who I am in God’s eyes, I can walk boldly, wherever He has called me to walk.
I am God’s masterpiece. You are God’s masterpiece. We are all unique. Psalm 139:14 say, “I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Rather than focusing on our imperfections or the imperfections of others, let’s focus on this. We are God’s masterpieces and He is still working on us. Don’t dismiss it. Don’t dismiss your ability to shine.
God is writing something beautiful through our lives. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and display our art.