The Canvas

I have walked through a deep and long valley these last few months. It has been hard and exhausting. Aside from family and a few close friends, I have kept this journey very close to my heart. It has been a strange and foreign terrain to navigate and I have been thankful for the support from loved ones even when my actions have been out of character.

It all started back in December. I think the combination of my daughter’s finger being severed, a new job for my sweet husband, my son’s family moving out of the country and then yes, for me, the cherry on top, the piece de resistance, my 45-year old hormones raging full force into peri- menopause.

I know as a society we go back and forth on what is appropriate to divulge for public consumption from the bowels of our private lives, but I think most of our motivation for privacy is pride, fear of judgment and feeling vulnerable, exposed. Most of us do not want to rip the carefully-placed tape we have strategically positioned over the cracks of our lives- the embarrassments, the humiliations, the failures, the imperfections. We tell ourselves why dwell, no one wants to see the junk; we fear rejection. We do this everywhere and even in church-clean ourselves up before we step out the door.

Why on earth do we do this to ourselves? As if we live in a perfect utopia. Life in this world is messy. But truly, the ironic twist in our quest to present our lives with a polished veneer is the beauty in the imperfection. Don’t we cherish the most the goofy candid photograph, a child’s amateur drawing, the cracks and crevices that help make up the Grand Canyon, the wisdom shared and held in the eyes of one who has lived a long life and knows life carries peaks and valleys?

I am thinking about the nighttime sky. In my mind’s eye, I am envisioning the most beautiful sunset. Picture it. The sky has clouds of deep blue and baby blues that seem to roll across our outdoor ceiling. Vibrant pinks and reds with hints of oranges and white are splashed across the darkening clouds as if the Master has taken a paintbrush and gently moved His hand back and forth. A beautiful, breathtaking, serene image. Then you notice out of the corner of your eye the hot, humid, exhaust of a jet that has been speeding across the sky. Does it ruin the image? Do we stop and say, “Oh I can’t take a picture now; it is ruined!”?

I hope we don’t. I hope it barely warrants a hesitation or recognition. I hope if anything, we stand in awe for a moment that thousands of miles up in the sky a person is flying people in a jet, which has made the white streak across the sky. Maybe it doesn’t have to be viewed as an imperfection, something to resignedly accept into the canvas of our picture; just maybe we can see the wonder in the knowledge that man does fly.

I think we should view our own imperfections this way. They aren’t to be hidden ashamedly, just accepted. They are all part of our journey in life that one day, at the end of our lives, will paint the beautiful sunset picture that reflects the entire beauty, the whole picture of our amazing lives. Sometimes being able to share openly that there has to be the valleys- it is in the valleys we grow and learn and we are stretched, so that we can appreciate the majesty as we make the climb, once again, up to the peak.

So, if you are related to me, and you are at the doctor and he asks, “Anyone struggle with any depression, anxiety or panic in your family?” Please say, “Oh, yes,” and insert my name. Don’t whisper it; state it firmly and boldly. And then take a quick moment to add, “Oh, but in her season in the valley, she was able to find more beauty and love in the world and to have a greater appreciation for life than any so-so day could ever give her. It has placed an amazing brushstroke of color across her life canvas.”

What does your canvas look like?