When my daughter was 6, she showed an interest in art. Since I’m not artsy person, I did what non-artsy moms do: I signed her up for art lessons.
At one camp, they told us to send to kids in old clothes they could get dirty. After picking her up the first day and noticing the paint splattered everywhere, I understood why.
The art they created was unique, and when I told the teacher how innovative her work was – and how my brain didn’t think that way – she told me the secret to making art is to not be scared of making a mess.
Immediately a bell rang in my head. I knew exactly what my problem was, why I couldn’t make great art with my kids at home.
Because I don’t like messes.
The root of this is a perfectionist personality, a mindset I acquired as a teenager and will likely spend the rest of my life trying to overcome. Honestly, I think many women and girls share this mindset with me. At some point, we’ve bought into the allusion that life should be perfect – and anything less is wrong or not good enough.
I learned a lot about art, imperfection, and finding beauty after destruction while visiting Greece last summer with my family. Words can’t describe how breathtaking this country is, yet its beauty is not the shiny, polished, and perfected kind we’re used to seeing in America. No, in Greece there is a natural beauty that has evolved over time. Its charm and allure come from age, character, and a rich history.
Chances are you’ve heard of Santorini, one of Greece’s top tourist destinations. You may have seen the jaw-dropping pictures that look unreal, yet I can attest: the photos aren’t fake. Santorini really is this stunning.
What tourists don’t think about, however, as they sip cocktails in this blue heaven and post pictures to make their friends drool is how the island of Santorini emerged from destruction. Over 3,600 years ago, there was volcano eruption that was epic. The center blew out of the volcano and created a caldera (crater) that’s since been filled with water from the Mediterranean Sea.
Santorini and the islands around it form a circle because they were the rim of that original volcano. After the eruption, as Santorini was developed on a fragmented piece of a mountain, the wealthy residents took the flat side because they wanted lots of land. They gave Santorini’s cliff side – undesirable at the time – to the peasants.
The peasants, needing homes for their families, had to get creative. They started digging into the side of the mountain and creating cave-like dwellings for homes and businesses. Over time they painted these dwellings white and built charming, unique communities.
Today, the cliff side of Santorini is the prime real estate. It’s where everyone wants to be, overlooking the spectacular water. I find it funny how those peasants who initially got a bum deal ended up with valuable assets to pass on (worth millions of dollars) from generation to generation.
Because they were resourceful, because they took the lemons life handed them and made a new kind of lemonade, they created a magical land unlike any in the world. A unique work of art.
Also in Santorini, we visited Black Beach. The sand is black instead of white because it’s made of volcano ashes. And as I admired the striking combination of black sand and clear blue water, I marveled at God’s ingenuity in repurposing ashes of mass destruction into another unique form of art.
But perhaps the best lesson in Santorini came during a tour of Akrotiri. Akrotiri is an ancient civilization that was the “Beverly Hills” of its time. The people were highly advanced – with 3-story homes and indoor plumbing – and one reason why is because women were considered important and allowed to contribute to society.
After the volcano erupted, Akrotiri was buried under the ashes. The ashes preserved Akrotiri until 1967, when a Greek archaeologist began excavating in the right place, and within a few hours, the remains of a buried city started coming to light after years of archaeologists looking.
We saw many ancient civilizations in Greece, and what struck me each time was how cool it must be to discover that first clue. To be the archaeologist who finds the first sign…the first artifact…the first piece of evidence that a hidden treasure exists. To see what no eyes have ever seen before and open the door to a brand-new world.
I believe life is a lot like this. I believe even the worst destruction has hidden treasures under the surface. Most people don’t want to get dirty. Most people aren’t willing to dig. Most people don’t consider the possibility that maybe, just many, there’s more to a bad situation than what initially meets the eye.
Nobody skates through life without facing their share of heartache or devastation. Some messes we create for ourselves by the poor choices we make, and some messes are imposed on us by the people around us or by random events we have no control over. We can’t stop every mess from happening, but we can trust God’s hand in the story. We can rely on Him to ultimately re-purpose what is broken and show us the potential of our mess.
From destruction God makes art – but at first it won’t look like art. Only with time, healing, and perspective can beauty of this nature emerge. And if I’m learning anything regarding the art of life, it’s to not live in fear of the mess. To see each trial as part of a bigger story, a chapter in time but not the finale. Our weakest moments are God’s opportunity to do His best work, and just as God had an amazing vision for Santorini, He has an amazing vision for each one of us.
I really admire those people who take the lemons that life hands them and make a new kind of lemonade. I believe these people have a lot to teach us on how to deal with challenges. When life closes in, maybe it’s time to think outside the box. To approach life with the eye and heart of an artist, and to be the kind of person who will dig deep for answers, use the materials we have, find value in the mess, and create something beautiful that nobody ever saw coming.
Thanks for reading this article today. If you found the message helpful, please share it through social media.
Also, I’ve written two books for teen & tween girls designed to empower them through faith. The newest one, Liked, is getting a fantastic response as a unique resource for girls of the digital age, and along with the bestselling 10 Ultimate Truths Girls Should Know, it’s being used widely across the U.S. for small group studies.
Finally, I have several upcoming speaking events for mothers and daughters (5th grade and up) that are open to the public. Would love to see you there – bring your daughter or a group of girls and come hear what it means to live fearlessly for Christ!
BIRMINGHAM: Wed. Jan. 23 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Homewood, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here.
ST. SIMONS ISLAND/SEA ISLAND: Sun., Jan. 27 at St. Simons Community Church in St. Simons Island, GA. This event is free, and groups are welcome, but please RSVP to Sara@thegp.org
BATON ROUGE: Wed., Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. Baton Rogue FUMC. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
BIRMINGHAM: Sat., Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at Mountain Brook Community Church. Event is free, but please register here.
Have a great day, and thanks again for stopping by!
Posted by Kari on January 14, 2019