Everything is appropriate in its own time. But though God has planted eternity on the hearts of men, even so, many cannot see the whole scope of God‘s work from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
How does something appear bright? Whether it be in a painting or on a beach watching a sunset, how does something earn the label of being bright?
A few years ago, while taking some drawing lessons, the teacher gave me the answer as she instructed, “The only way to make something appear bright is to place it beside something dark.”
The problem I faced at the time was that I was afraid of the darks–they are impossible to erase completely, but eventually I began to see what she meant. The highlights were nice and the mid-tones were good but without the darkest darks, the picture was left without depth. I learned that the darks, as scary as they are, are just as necessary as the highlights in the success of the final project.
Anyone who knows me could tell you that I love to journal. The simple process of putting pen to paper provides me with a safe place to reflect on life and it gives me an excuse to slip away from the bustle of life for a few moments. As an added bonus, my collection of journals has formed a sort of breadcrumb trail of my life. Thumbing through old entries, I’ve met with memories of not just where I’ve been but also who I’ve been. It’s amazing the difference a few years makes. The entries record not just the events of my life but also trace the transition going on within me as I moved from insecurity to confidence; from anger to peace; from feeling dull and uninspired to desperately wanting to move courageously out into the world. As I follow the breadcrumb trail, I am reminded of the highs, the lows and all the in-betweens. I see the brights and darks, and with the blessing of hindsight I can see the impact and beauty that has blossomed from both.
Three years ago, I weathered a really rough time as I battled for months seeking relief from the dark. Fast-forward to mere months ago, I was asked in conversation with a friend, “Do you wish it hadn’t happened?”
My answer came quick and confident, something along the lines of, “It hurt and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone else but as crazy as it sounds, I‘m truly thankful it happened. If I hadn’t been through that, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
Downhere’s song For the Heartbreak aptly puts words to this strange sense of gratitude:
Everything is appropriate in its time. It doesn’t make the hard times easier but it does spark hope, knowing that God’s hands are active as he creates his masterpiece in my life. The darks add depth and only he knows their placement so as to make the Light appear bright.
Who am I to argue?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am an unfinished masterpiece. I know that in time I will be perfectly complete but for now, I accept the work of your hand. Help me to rest in the knowledge that the work you are doing, whether with bright whites or darkest darks, is but a step in the process of moving me toward your final purpose for my life. Help me rest. Help me trust. Help me release the desire to argue with the Master. Thank you for the glimpses you provide of your promises fulfilled–they set my soul at ease. Amen.
Contributed by Julie Lee