Many times, when I look back, I find that a lot of what I’m thankful for was NOT having or NOT getting what I thought I so badly wanted or needed. It’s the business that didn’t work that could have grown more problems. It’s the opportunities I didn’t have that made me more resourceful with the ones I do have. It’s the relationships that didn’t work that could have gotten in the way of the ones that do. It’s the family money we didn’t have that helped teach me that family values are more valuable. It’s having no money for new furniture that taught me how great simplicity is. It’s not having “feel-good” bosses that taught me to be strong enough to carve value into a tough world. It’s not finding all the answers right away, or at all, that continue to teach me to strengthen my faith, to trust God when I can’t trust anyone, and to be patient.
Pride leads us to think we’re more important and know better than anyone what we need. But sometimes what we need is to NOT get exactly what we think at the moment is so important. It reminds me of learning how to paint with my art teacher, how on the first few meetings all we did were shapes and tonal values and shades. I kept wondering why I was using a charcoal pencil and not a paintbrush and a rainbow of pigments instead. But the black and white work didn’t stop. I finally said, “I wanted you to teach me to paint. Why are we doing this?”
He said, I am teaching you to paint. Because if you can understand what I’m teaching you now, you’ll be able to paint anything – and make it standout. I’m teaching you how to make anything from simple lines. I’m teaching you contrast. I’m teaching you about negative space. I’m teaching you how to build complexity and interest. When you’re ready, we’ll jump to color.
Sadly, my art teacher, Jess Puertollano, passed away a few years later, but his lessons have remained. I’m thankful he held back color from me for that season in order that I may appreciate how simple things and limited lines and black and white can make beautiful things. And he was right, when we introduced color, it was more than just red, green, blue, and yellow. They were shades of red, shades of green, shades of blue, shades of pieces of a prism.
I like to remind myself to be grateful at all times, even during the times of seeming lack and seeming disappointment, because just like my art teacher was doing, my Heavenly Father is teaching me the things I need to harness all of life’s color.