Well, this week I tackled painting for the first time in eleven years.
We’re not talking Pablo Picasso painting—I’ve never been quite brave enough to tackle that—but the humdrum, slap-paint-on-a-wall kind of painting that had me kneeling over a bucket of Benjamin Moore classic cornsilk on Tuesday, feeling like I might faint.
You see, the last time I painted I was seventeen years old. I was in Bogota, Colombia, working with the Petersheim family (my husband and I weren’t even dating back then) to transform an entire floor of an orphanage with a few cans of oily green paint.
Within three days, I was so covered with green that I resembled the Wicked Witch of the West, and the walls looked even worse than I did.
Afterward, I did a kindness for humanity and hung my paint brush up for—what I believed was—good. Some people just don’t have the knack for painting, and I was one of them.
But last week, knack or not, necessity made me tackle painting again.
My husband is in the midst of putting closets in the “master” bedroom of our solar-powered house. And then he is going to put a bathroom downstairs, so we’re not constantly lugging a thirty pound toddler up and down them for every hint of a tinkle.
Needless to say, it’s going to be a long time before my husband can tackle superfluous to-do’s, such as my rabid need to paint our stairs green.
So, on Monday I went to Home Depot and picked out my paint. On Tuesday, while both my girls were napping, I taped off the trim and used a butter knife to pop the top on my can of cornsilk.
Then, paintbrush in hand, I stared down at my tray of smooth yellow and tried to understand how to get it on the wall. My husband chose this moment to clomp downstairs.
I said, “I think my heart might explode.”
He glanced over at me, pulling his toboggan hat down over his ears. “Why?”
“What if I mess up?”
He shrugged, pulling on his gloves. “Then we’ll just paint over it again.”
My husband’s main motivation for saying this was, no doubt, the fact that he wanted to go hunting and figured he’d prefer to fix whatever mistakes I made while he was gone rather than giving up his limited time in the woods.
Still, he made it all seem so simple. If I messed up, we could just paint over it again.
Over the past two weeks, there have been moments I’ve feared that we’ve “messed up” by moving twelve hours away from our families.
These are often the moments I’m also missing my dryer and my predictable thermostat. My garbage disposal and my granite countertops. My soaking tub with its endless supply of hot water and my closet that was so deep, walking through it felt like I might wander into Narnia.
But then I realize that God is present even in those moments when I’m staring down at my tray of paint, trying to figure out how to slap the next layer on my life’s wall.
We can make mistakes that are almost impossible to cover up, and yet I don’t believe God wants His children to be debilitated by so much fear that we never accept change.
He wants us to embrace the full palette of our years, using them for His honor and glory, so that when we come to the end of our life, we can see every stroke of the Master’s brush.
What changes would you make to your life’s palette if you knew that you couldn’t “mess up”?