A long, long time ago (2007) in a far away land (Chicago) a younger version of a really fly girl (me) sat down in a room full of really smart adults for her very first adult meeting.
Uncouth as she was, she used the pen and pad in front of her not to note down the insightful comments she wasn’t about to make but rather to let her hand and heart wander together creating calligraph bliss. She loved to sketch (especially at meetings) and this day in particular marked the creation of a very, very special sketch indeed.
Why? Because you see, this fly girl just a few months earlier had taken a hard fall in life. She was still suffering from acute disappointment and broken-heartedness and her spirit was wandering between what she knew to be true in her soul and what actually manifested itself in reality (a very different picture, indeed); in short, she was lost.
And in this very proper, very adult meeting, while her mind focused on the Key Performance Measures being presented, her heart drifted into another world where feelings trump what the naked eye wants to believe is true. Meeting her hand, this very strong heart proceeded to shape this feeling. Minutes later, on a tiny 4x3 sheet of paper was borne the first draft of a very important painting. The fly girl didn’t know that it was more than just the stirring of her heart that made this sketch monumental, but as you may have guessed, she was destined to find out.
But until then, months passed and as she nursed her wounded heart she continued to fixate on that tiny 4x3 sketch that brought her so much peace. Every time she looked at it, retraced it, and improved it she replayed the events of the past years that led her to this moment of contemplation. She thought about her chance encounters with spirituality which soon turned into an outright courtship - He, calling her name so clearly that she would be forced to rise at Godly hours, sleepily traveling to His door to sit patiently and happily in the darkness. Her fingers traced the peaks on the painting as she replayed those early months when she would spend hours in conversation with Him, laughing along at the practical jokes He liked to play. Her hand dipped down into the valley of the painting just as her mind remembered the pain she felt at the thought of how much, how so very much she had trusted Him with the deepest secrets in her heart - the fears, the desires, the vulnerabilities. And then, with the final flick of her wrist, she relished how much, how so very much she still trusted him, despite the pain she felt He had caused. This was, indeed, a very monumental painting.
But my friends, the story is just beginning. You see, in the redemption that true love brings, she began to rise up out of her pain. Inspired, she wished to share her journey with the world.
Our fly girl spent weeks tracing and retracing, enlarging, getting materials, mixing colors and playing joyously in the paint that was to tell her courageous story. And then, when she was satisfied that all of her pain and happiness and trust and loved had set into the colors, she framed it and submitted it as a dedication to the One above.
At the gallery viewing, the piece didn’t receive much attention. But that was no matter. To her, it radiated. Her parents were a little disappointed. “You didn’t paint the background though…it seems so plain.” Her friends were not all supportive, either. “I went by the gallery but your piece didn’t really catch my eye so I walked past.” (True story.) No matter. She knew that while her technical skills were amateur, she was a master in the art of expression. Confidence intact.
A few months later, after the gallery had closed and the hype had cooled, our fly girl went back to the daily grind of life, continually satisfied in her relationship with spirituality and all of that. And a couple months after that, the disappointment that had caused her such intense pain just one year ago had suddenly lifted, replaced by a renewed opportunity that almost (but not entirely) made it all okay again. Why not entirely? Because sometimes entirely doesn’t come without understanding. So while she accepted the events that transpired, she still did not understand why it had to be this way.
To her the world now looked flawed, but she still loved Him just the same, anyway.
As she packed her belongings to head out to an even further land, the thoughts of her painting resurfaced. The gallery had long closed, and its artists had all received their pieces back - but where was hers? She searched and searched and searched…! She searched high and low, spoke with all of the necessary parties, and was finally given the consolation “we didn’t guarantee we’d return it - that was your risk.” Her painting was missing.
No matter, it was a labor of love, and she was moving ahead.
Years went by and her life was enriched by the blessings and opportunities that surprised her at every corner. There was new love, new experiences, new knowledge to cherish and she soaked it up with an almost (but not entirely) clear heart and almost fresh eyes. It had to be almost because, you see, entirely doesn’t come without understanding and despite these bounties our stubborn (fly) girl just did not understand.
To her, the world (still) looked flawed, but she still loved Him just the same, anyway.
The painting never resurfaced, but she carried the image in her heart (and on her FB profile), and every once in awhile she would lose herself in the dips and peaks of the painting, indulging herself with a trip down memory lane.
That is of course, until she returned to her (sort of) homeland many moons later. Overwhelmed by the responsibilities of this new phase, our more graceful (fly) girl busied herself with making home and hearth. Every day she would go to her place of work, dive in and (attempt to) conquer the piles of work, and then she would head back to her (supercool) crib.
One day, as she walked into her place of work, something looked different… She paused for a moment. What could it be? As she scanned the room, her eyes fell upon several pieces of art sitting along the walls, waiting to be hung - colorful, beautiful pieces, each one expressing a sentiment from the artists heart. She turned her body around the room, gazing at each painting individually, savoring its message, giving it its due respect. And then, having turned nearly 360 degrees, our fly girl’s eyes landed on the final piece in the room…her own!
Here amongst these beautiful and intricate pieces rested her very own, simple expression of love.
She knocked on the secretary’s door and asked her where these pieces had come from and where they were traveling to. “They’ve come from different galleries around the country and they are to remain here. We’re using them to decorate your new offices.”
And suddenly, our fly girl was humbled into silence at the realization that was upon her: Three years ago she had been decorating her office for the job she was to have. The job she thought she’d never get, the reason she had been so heartbroken.
What a master plan, huh?
As the pieces fit together, the understanding too came, and the humility brought her swiftly to her knees. There was no room for almost here.
After almost nine months of waiting for the painting to arrive and be hung, the missing painting never did show up at the new office. The other paintings were all here, stored in a room, but once again, hers was nowhere to be found. The fly girl knew it was safe but wondered what He was up to (she had learned her lesson and was effectively waiting for the punch line). Because you see, while this painting was intended to decorate her office, it took so long that in the meantime she was offered a position in another office, far, far away (Dallas).
And today, on her last day at work as she diligently filled out the progress reports for her students, she noticed the building manager hanging up some paintings. Curious, heart-racing, she turned the corner to see and what do you think she found?
Her very beloved painting, to be hung on the wall facing the door as the first piece you see upon entering this space…my space…maybe not in the flesh (anymore) but certainly in Spirit from here on out.
You won’t forget me, Atlanta. Thank you for always saving me a spot :)