By Faith Wilson, Guest Contributor
I glanced over at the student sitting next to me. Drawing with ease, a perfectly beautiful image was emerging onto her sketch pad. She hummed contentedly as her skilled hand began to deftly shade in her masterpiece. I looked at my own sketch pad. It stared back. My eyes struggled to stay open as the paper taunted me. Its emptiness was getting so irritating. I’d never been able to draw, and the drudgery of this class had drained every ounce of my creative energy.
Knowing I couldn’t put this off any longer, I chose a pencil and slowly lowered its tip to the white surface. After 15 minutes my paper was merely covered in eraser smudges and smears of graphite from my hands. This felt so hopeless. Thoughts of failure began to suffocate me. How am I going to endure two and a half more hours of this? And I have to come back on Thursday? I should just drop this class. I’m not built for this. I’d rather be riding my longboard through campus or hiking in the foothills.
My personality is well suited for adventure. I like to keep my life fast-paced and interesting. Dabbling in something new until I get bored or realize I’m not very good at it, I tend to quickly move on and try something else. But here I sat, trapped in the misery of Drawing I. Six hours a week for 13 weeks, and there was no escape! Each morning I dragged myself out of bed, stared at the ugly mess on my paper, and counted the minutes until it was over.
One morning, I couldn’t take it any more. After torturous hours of working at a simple drawing, it was still hardly recognizable. I went out for an Americano to try to escape the fatigue in my spirit. Then, a miracle happened. As I sipped my coffee, a whisper of Truth spoke softly in my ear. Faith, why are you miserable? This class is overwhelming you because you have surrendered. The choice is before you. You can walk back into that studio, seeing it as place filled with opportunities to grow stronger.
This radical perspective washed over me. With new resolve I walked back to class, determined to grab hold of my circumstances and learn everything I could from them. I plopped into my seat and stared with new determination at my drawing. I’m here. I can’t go anywhere. I may as well get comfy and make the most of it. After a few minutes, the perils of my failure had turned to joy. I found excitement in the struggle. As I drew, a Coldplay album filled the room with music. I felt inspired. I found myself singing harmony with Chris Martin as I sharpened my pencil and continued on.
A few weeks later I realized something. I was actually getting better. My drawings were improving. My new attitude was paying off. I looked down at my paper, and my drawing smiled back at me. I was in shock at what I had accomplished. The struggle had forged a piece of beauty. In that drawing class I learned more than how to draw. I had stumbled upon a priceless lesson that would begin to open my eyes to the unlimited number of opportunities and choices in front of me each day.
Every now and then, a Coldplay song will play on my iPod and I find myself reminiscing about the days in my Drawing I class, when I learned how to stop, rethink my situation, allow the opportunity of the moment to fill my soul with hope, leap into the fray of battle, and persevere.
“And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
Ahead of us awaits a lifetime of insurmountable challenges. Will you dare to see them through a new lens? Can these challenges become your beautiful white canvases, flooded with opportunities, awaiting your creativity and perseverance?
Here is one of my sketches from Drawing I. Through what lenses do your see your circumstances?