Creatively Whole – How Painting By Numbers Hinders The Soul

“Art is a wound turned into light.”
Georges Braque

We are all in one way or another the walking wounded. Some of us with fresh wounds, some of us with scars that have disfigured who we really are, some of us experience phantom pains waking us up in the middle of the night as if the wound has happened for the first time. We are human, therefore susceptible to pain, brokenness and wounding.

We are all in one way or another walking wonders, many of us broken time and time again, but still standing. Many of us with a miraculous ability to persevere and rebuild time and time again. We are re-makers, re-shifters, do overs, stand back up people with a willingness to make it better, to fix it.

But there are places in our soul even the most self-aware; the most resilient have trouble getting to. Its purpose is to cry ’empty!’ often when we have no clue why. It taps on our shoulders during our darkest moments and during our biggest triumphs. It’s that place deep within our soul that is asking for freedom so it can be both filled and released.

I believe, that this place is the home dwelling of the Holy Spirit. It’s the place where His kingdom comes on earth as it is in Heaven. It’s the place where Jesus sits longing for your friendship, it’s the place where the power of God and the download of Heaven happens, it’s where Jacob’s ladder is erected and where the burning bush burns, it’s where Hannah lays barren begging God for a son, it’s where David pleads for forgiveness and the prostitute weeps at His feet.

Do you not see that in every moment that man entered this sacred place it was met with resistance, wrestling with God, doubt in one’s own abilities, grief, condemnation, religious voices, but they brought that all into that place and God made them whole. But many of us, myself included hesitantly enter this place with our rules of engagement, our outline of expectations and desires and hence this place in our deepest being is never satisfied.

I sat down to paint the other day and it was met with great frustration. I love painting, I love the process more than the end result. I love the feeling of the paint on the canvas and I love that with every mistake that I make it can be painted over or created into something new. I love that nothingness turns into something and that I can put layer upon layer and the end result is never what I set out to do. It’s like it guides me to where it wants to go.

The reason I was so incredibly frustrated is that this painting project was a canvas that already had the sketch printed onto it. All I had to do was follow the instructions and paint where I was supposed to with the colours and brushes they told me to use. The entire process made me feel like I wasn’t good enough (now obviously I wasn’t that dramatic) but the subtle feelings I had while painting were eye opening for me.

As I moaned over every error that did not look exactly like the instructional booklet told me it would look God began to tug on that empty soul space. I began to see an aerial view of the canvas of my soul and God revealed a little of His heart to me.

We are his ‘creation.’ Where there was once nothing God created us. We are His masterpiece, the greatest book of all time authored by Him. We are the canvas and he is the artist. Yet, we are the ones who set out with detailed expectations of how we want things to go, we pencil out our plans and we always want to know what the end result will be and we despise the process. We are consumed with anxiety, trying to compare our canvas to others. We are consumed with resistance because our fear of disappointing others is so loud, we live in fear to choose the wrong colour or to paint outside the lines. We feel bound, because we are. I wanted to quit so many times and by the end I stopped caring and just wanted to get it over with. I spent most of my energy fixing what I thought didn’t look right.

At the end of my painting project, my family stood in awe at what I had created, but it didn’t feel like mine, I felt like a fraud and all I could see were the imperfections that didn’t ‘match’ the expectation set out for me and that’s when that empty space in my soul gave me a tug. ‘Sarah, this is how you have been experiencing life’

We need to start seeing ourselves as a blank canvas with no rules on us, no expectations over what we are meant to do or be or have, but a freedom to allow God to flow in and out of that soul place and make us whole.

I can’t help but laugh at my inner voice as I share this blog post, saying “God, please don’t turn me into a hippy”

Leave a Reply