Wednesday, December 30, 2009

paint me perfect

because we humans love our analogies, and because it's difficult to understand our relationship with God, the bible is full of helpful analogous descriptions of how we are regarded and how we, in turn, should regard God. our God is our shepherd, our rock, our foundation, our shelter, our strong tower, our provider, our groom. i could go on and on. interestingly, the parent-child (usually father-child) relationship is probably the most popular. i say this is interesting because, looking at the state of many parent-child relationships around us, i don't know that we, as a species, really have that one down. all of the others can be more easily understood. a provider, for instance, is, by definition, one who provides. a father, on the other hand and as sad as it is, is not necessarily one who fathers.

i have recently come to fancy a different analogy. God is my artist. if we think about it, the artist chooses everything about his or her creation (not the same can be said for parents and children). the colors, the shapes, the mediums - it's all intentional and meant to work together to accomplish something - the expression of the artist, the glorification of the artist, the connection between the artist and the spectator. i like this. i like to think of myself as a piece of art, crafted for a purpose - an expression of my creator, something to bring glory to my creator, something that can help others connect with my creator, who they might come to know as their creator.

i like this, too, because it helps me celebrate myself. parents are often trying to shape their children - curb things that may prove problematic and encourage things that will be helpful. artists are different. if there is something in art that appears to some to be errant, it is not. the artist put it there and it will serve a purpose at some point. i fear that some christians of a more legalistic persuasion miss out on this. if dancing brings joy to my soul, i can be confident that i was created that way - it's a gift, not a blemish. it is not something shameful, it is something put in me for my own good, at least, if not for something greater (in my case, it's probably just for me).

let me push the analogy to include the human condition and human error. i acknowledge that everything in me is not good. i do have a capacity for evil. perhaps that capacity is an imperfection in my canvass that the great artist manages to work into the piece. it is said that God does not waste pain and i believe that. i can think about some of the most painful things that have happened in my short life and not wish them away. they are so much a part of me that i can't imagine myself without them - without the things they taught le. how's that for efficiency? no waste. God is so green.

in light of all of this, let me say that as pieces of art, we have certain responsibilities.
  • we cannot mute ourselves, or each other. imagine, if you painted two pictures and they came to life and decided that they were ashamed of and needed to hide the very pieces of themselves that you loved best - the parts that made them special (adam and eve?). i realize it's a weird hypothetical situation, but it would be rather heartbreaking.
  • we cannot mar ourselves or others. same situation - if one of the paintings set itself on fire while the other attacked it with a knife. even a little weirder and definitely more heartbreaking.
  • we must embrace ourselves and each other so much that we nearly explode. i don't really know what that would look like for our live-painting analogy, but you get where i'm going with this.

in short, you are beautiful people, and i'm not so bad either, so we should act like it.

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