I attended Cultivate: Paint in the summer of 2015. I was struggling with life then. I wanted to hold on to hope and the promises I knew were truth but the hurts of my past still very much had a hold on me and the truth is, most of the time, I felt very hopeless. In that season I had a phrase taped to my bathroom mirror: God is sovereign and trustworthy. I didn’t feel like it was true but I knew it was truth and I was going to choose to believe it.
The only painting I kept from that 6 week session of Cultivate was this picture.
As you can see it is a colorful heart (my authentic self) but the colors are muted and dim. In the middle I wrote Choose Life because I was in a place where that reminder had to be obvious. Choose Life. Choose Hope. Everyday. “This will not be the day you give up – on God, on hope, on life.” I also added a semi-colon to the side. I didn’t want it to be the main focus but I had to acknowledge that I was struggling. The semicolon is a symbol used by those who have struggled with suicidal thoughts. It’s an acknowledgement that an author could have ended their sentence but chose not to.
God has done a lot of work in my life since the summer of 2015. Through some emotional healing and people in my life that have loved me well, God has revealed to me all the ways He has been sovereign and trustworthy always. I feel like my journey from the day I painted that muted heart to the Flourish event in January 2019 was a “clearing out of all the junk” – removing the lies, the false beliefs, the unrealistic expectations, the shame and guilt of my past.
To be completely honest, I walked into the Flourish event uncertain, unsure what to expect (even though I knew the logistics of what was going to happen), and not really having very many “feelings” about the whole thing at all. What I realize now is that I walked into that space as a blank canvas. I was and still am in a season where God is making me new. He is painting my authentic self on me and in me; and it looks so much different than the past.
I prayed diligently that God would speak to me at this Cultivate: Paint One Day Gathering in March 2019. I don’t consider myself an artist but I appreciate that there is something fresh about tapping into the heart of God, through all kinds of creative mediums, including painting.
I had no idea what I was going to paint. I sat and I looked at the blank canvas and I listened. I was led to the verse Jeremiah 17:8. “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (NIV) I immediately noticed that semi-colon. “It does not fear when the heat comes.” It chooses hope/life. “Its leaves are always green.” And the result of that choice is abundant life.
So I went to the materials table and I picked out all the colors that I felt like represented all that I am so grateful for in my life right now and all the abundance that I hope for. I started painting a tree. A vibrant, full of life tree. It just came out of me. Quickly and easily.
I was finished before our time was up, so I went outside and looked over that verse again. Then I read the verse before it. Jeremiah 17:7 “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.” He is sovereign and trustworthy. Always.
In the process of the day, I also came across this quote from Vincent Van Gogh that made my heart leap with joy. . . “Color in a painting is like enthusiasm in life.” So true!
Lesley is an Early Childhood Educator, who loves to discover and encourage each child’s unique personality and strengths as well as help them manage tough emotions. She is passionate about reducing waste and the reduction of plastics. She is a huge fan of memes, snail mail, and funny T-shirts. Currently on a journey to her most authentic self, she is always game for deep conversations and spontaneous adventures.