Two paintings hang on the wall in our living room. Our oldest daughter, Taylor, painted both of these masterpieces. She was only 6 years old when she painted the one on the left. I can still remember her sweet face and how she beamed with pride as she showed me her very first painting. She’d only been going to art class for 2 months. I was amazed at what she was able to accomplish in such a short time. Taylor was 19 when she completed the painting on the right. She was all smiles as she turned it around for me to see. My mouth dropped open and I squealed with delight. I grabbed it out of her hands and I hung it on the wall in the living room.
One day as I was sitting on the couch admiring Taylor’s artwork I started thinking about all that had happened between those two paintings. It took 13 years to get from the painting on the left to the painting on the right. So many things happened that people will never see. Taylor spent many hours learning how to paint and practicing over and over again. She painted over mistakes that none of us will ever know about. I drove her to class every week and I waited 2 hours for class to get over. I wrote more checks than I can count. And there’s dad who worked hard those 13 years to pay for the art classes. And we can’t forget about Grandma. Grandma took Taylor to art class for an entire year after Mikayla and Hope were born. She didn’t want me to have the stress of packing them up and taking them with us. Getting from one painting to the next painting cost our family something. It wasn’t always easy. But it was worth it.
In the last two months our family has been faced with two extremely difficult decisions. We’ve had a lot of sleepless nights. Anxiety wrapped itself around me and nearly choked me. My sweet husband and I have had a lot of discussions (um….I mean fights) about what we should do. I’ve consumed a lot of chocolate. And finally we’ve found the answer to both situations. The answer to the first decision is yes. This yes came with a lot of questions, uncertainty, and fear attached to it. Our family will be going through a lot of changes because of this decision. But even in the midst of fear we chose to say yes. The answer to the second decision is no. This no came with a lot of disappointment and heartbreak. I wanted the answer to be yes. I dug my heels in and I wasn’t going to change my mind. Why can’t Brett see that the answer is yes? It’s so obvious that the answer is yes. And then the day finally came when I heard God whisper the answer into my heart. And His answer was no. I was devastated.
Something happened to me once the decisions were made. Even though I knew we’d made the right decisions I felt empty and hopeless. I didn’t go to church for 3 weeks. The process of walking through the decisions has been difficult. I’ve had to give up something that I really wanted. I’ve had to say yes to something that scares me out of my mind. Life’s going to look different than I thought it would look. As all of the disappointment and uncertainty were swirling around inside of me God reminded me of the paintings.
He said: You’re between two paintings. This is the part that no one sees. This is the part that costs something that no one will ever know about. This is the part when you feel like your heart has been ripped out and yet you choose to go on. Trust me during this time of disappointment. Trust me when My plans look different than your plans. You’re acting like this is the final painting in your story. But it’s not. You’re in the middle of your story. I know the plans that I have for you. And they are good.
This moment with God gave me hope. God can paint a better picture for my life than I could ever paint. He’s taken the paintbrush and He’s painting over my mistakes. He’s painting over the plans that I made. He’s painting over the disappointment that makes my heart ache. And I believe one day I will step back and look at His painting of my life. And the no that broke my heart in 2017 will suddenly make sense. Because I will see that His plan was better than my plan. I will see that He painted things into my life story that I would’ve never thought to add. I pray that if today you are feeling hopeless and disappointed that you will turn to the One who will give you hope. If life doesn’t look anything like you want it to look turn to the One who is writing your story. And trust Him. Trust that His Word is true. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).