The Superpower of an Artist

Hindsight is 20/20.

What would it be like if we could have the superpower of hindsight? How would we live differently if we knew then what we know now?

I’ve always been a person who loves to create — dare I say…an artist? Brazenly, I’ve dabbled over the years in various mediums— acrylics, clay, charcoal, oils, watercolor, ink, even graphic design — most of which have failed to develop into anything “show-worthy,” while a select few have found their way onto display in my home or somewhere tucked into the homes of my loved ones.

More than just a flamboyant hobby, or a feeble attempt to turn said-hobby into a profit-making endeavor, art has been a coping mechanism for me during some of the more trying seasons of my life. It has become something akin to the most seasoned and comfortable of friendships — someone I can turn to when most needed and, despite long bouts of absence, can pick right back up where we left off. Finding indescribable comfort in the grip and stroke of a paintbrush is something that, at times, nothing else could muster. Some of the work I am most proud of came straight out of the bowels of those difficult times. (How’s that for a visual?)

I can most vividly remember a season of waiting and transition that came upon my family quite unexpectedly about four years ago. Our whole life was essentially flipped upside-down and everything in our life we naively clung to as a security blanket (our home, school, friends, community) was tugged away from us. Our journey led me, along with my husband and our three young children, back to live with my gracious parents in the home I had grown up in for the first time since I had gotten married 11 years prior. It was humbling, to say the least, and a time when our faith was tested and our future was uncertain. We only had a piece of the puzzle and could not see how it fit into the life we had known up until then.

And we had an unwavering, steadfast, unmoving faith through it all
…is what I wish I could say.

The reality is we struggled. We doubted. We felt the weight of unanswered prayers. We were anxious about our future. My husband and I took turns being the weak doubter and the strong believer. We kept wondering when God was going to show up for us, when the truth was He was there all along. We didn’t have the power of hindsight, so we kept chugging along, taking small steps of faith and obedience, even when we didn’t feel like it, and praying for God to change our circumstances. We didn’t know then what we know now.

Back to my thirty-something year old self living with my parents. We only took essentials for the four months we lived there, not knowing at the time whether it would be more of a brief, blissful stay or something venturing more on the border of eternal torment. Paint supplies didn’t seem to make the “essentials” list, but they worked their way into my suitcase somehow. In my yester-years, I could devote more time and energy to this indigenous endeavor, however having three small children and a husband in the medical field made the simple act of dabbing paint onto a canvas seem like an arduous and impossible task. So I had tucked away that part of my life for a bit and let the paint dry out, per se. (Unless you count the time I was painting one of the bedrooms and my 2-year old daughter tried to carry a slightly opened gallon of paint down our hardwood-lined hallway and… had I the superpower of hindsight, I would have done a few things differently that day!) So pulling out those misfit, forgotten tools and dusting them off for a whirl around the old canvas was no small feat for me.

But it became my saving grace.

Somehow, I was able to channel my fear, anxiety, doubt, and impatience and mix it with trust, faith, patience, and obedience to pour onto canvas some of my favorite creations to this date. I remember dipping my brush into my mess of a palette and being profoundly struck by the reality that God truly is the great Artist. (Isa 64:8) An artist often needs to have hindsight before the first stroke. He needs the ability to see the unseen: to create something from what appears to be nothing. Our life can look very much to us like an artist’s palette. It can seem to be a random, unexplainable mess of colors — happy and sad, joy and sorrow, light and dark. But it is the tool being used by the Master to create something full of purpose and beauty.

Little did I know, through the mess and pain, God was orchestrating our steps in a new direction that has brought us now to a home we love, a community we invest in, jobs that are provisional and fulfilling, and friendships that our lifelong and life changing. More important than our circumstances eventually changing was that we found ourselves changed by our circumstances, more confident than ever in God’s master plan for us.

We may not have the superpower of hindsight, but if we are followers of Jesus, we do have the power of the Living God inside of us. (Rom 8:11) We can live differently because we have faith in the Artist who is painting our story and has proven trustworthy over and over again.

That is more powerful than any superpower I think I need.


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