I walked into freshman art class with lofty aspirations. I was going to create something great. Something the world had never seen. A masterpiece.
During the first semester, we studied the masters: Van Gogh, Picasso, Degas. Our teacher, Mr. Becerra, was a fun-loving Honduran-American in his early 40s who had a passion for The Beatles. He assigned a project that would allow each of us to choose a famous painting and copy it. The goal was to study their brush strokes, their use of light and texture, how to mix colors straight on the canvas rather than the palette. I fell in love with oil painting that semester.
By the second semester, we were allowed to paint something from our own imagination. I had grand visions of being the next Thomas Kinkade. I decided to paint an ocean scene, complete with sunset and lighthouse. In the end it was far from "Kinkade Status", but I was proud of it.
Until I saw Jessica's painting.
Hers was simple. A branch with a bird's nest and three tiny blue robin eggs nestled inside. The way she captured the light in the forest green background was superb. The sunbeams touching the teal blue eggs was enchanting. She told a beautiful story with her piece, and I was immediately jealous. I looked back at my lighthouse and I felt like I'd failed.
Comparison will do that every time. During jr. high and high school I looked at myself the same way I had looked at my lighthouse painting. I did Not. Measure. Up. I was a cheap, wanna-be, Kinkade. A knock-off.
I would look in the mirror and see everything that was wrong with myself. The blotchy complexion, the frizzy hair that no amount of straightening could tame, the so-called (non-existent) "pudge". I didn't like spending too much time looking in the mirror (much like the selfless Abnegation from the Divergent Series). Only it wasn't selfless. I had a form of pride that I didn't even realize I had. Thinking of yourself in a poor light isn't humility. You know the saying, "Don't think less of yourself, just think of yourself less." I was bad-mouthing what God had created, His masterpiece.
Ephesians 2:10 - For we are His workmanship [His own work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above, spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].
God has painted a beautiful picture in all of us. Who are we to criticize Him and tell Him he did it wrong when He made us? That He made a mistake?
I learned a valuable lesson the first few months of my time in ministry school. My self-esteem was better by then. I was 19 and had taken a year off after high school. But I had no idea of what God wanted to teach me during that year in Redding, California.
One day while I was getting ready for school, putting on my makeup in front of the bathroom mirror, God asked me to do something that turned out to be harder than I thought. He asked me to look at myself in the mirror every day and find something I liked about myself. I had to say it out loud. It was so hard! But I kept doing it every morning while I was getting ready. "I like my eyes."; "I like my hair."; and so on. After a while, I started to like myself. Suddenly, when I looked in the mirror, I didn't see all my flaws, I saw a masterpiece staring back at me.
It's not arrogance to admire what God created in you. It's confidence. It's not wrong to see the amazing creativity and brilliance of our Father God, to realize that when He made you, He made a masterpiece! You are not a "knock-off" or a cheap copy. You are one-of-a-kind.