It was not my finest hour; actually it wasn’t one of my best days. In fact, it was downright discouraging! Sometimes, it feels like everything is going wrong. Friday night and Saturday I had worked steadily on two different pieces, an oil painting of a child and a large illustration (page 2) of a children’s book. Neither went well, actually that is an understatement. All my hard work was the equivalent of a very, very bad hair day.
To cap it all off, even when I went to paint my toenails, the nail polish bottle broke! It seemed I couldn’t paint a thing right! Everything I touched was wrong.
I’ll spare you the details of all that went wrong with both of these paintings, but at that point I had some decisions to make. 1) Throw myself a pity party, 2) go after the potato chips or caramel corn speaking to me from the cupboard, 3) call a friend and whine, 4) laugh and remember.
I chose laugh and remember as my strategy. First I thought of the cute little saying a friend had sent me the week before and I laughed.
Yes, I do recognize that every day is a gift from God and I am truly thankful for His blessings and grace towards me. Still humor is a great salve and the Bible supports that:
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Proverbs 17:22 NLT
Second, I remembered when my stepdaughter and I had the good fortune to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art in July (more about that trip later) and see the most glorious exhibition of Impressionist paintings. One of the things I remembered from the audio tour has stay with me.
There we were standing in front of this magnificently large oil on canvas, 46 3/8″ x 67 1/4″ by Pierre-Auguste Renoir of the The Great Bathers.
I remembered hearing that Renoir painstakingly worked and reworked this piece for three years.
“For three years Renoir wrestled with this work,” notes Jennifer Thompson, the museum’s Curator, who organized the exhibition. “Just how exhaustively, we knew from notes left by Berthe Morisot, but seeing the cross-sections and X-rays taken by our specialists in Conservation has reaffirmed precisely how much he questioned himself and started over, again and again.”
Then I started imagining working on a painting for three years! Laboring, slaving, doubting until satisfaction came and I didn’t feel so bad.
The great King David counsels us to remember the good. This is important, especially when you feel like you are failing.
I believe a healthy life is maintained and encouraged by not looking at my own belly button, my own circumstances, my own problems, this attitude of laughing and remembering helps me to fail forward.
Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse”(ESV).
How do you handle everyday failures?