We recently received something quite disturbing in the mail. Someone anonymously sent us a document detailing how certain people are chosen to be the bride of Christ while others are not. These others are “people marked, stricken down with sicknesses and trials, so others will know those who are NOT God’s chosen people.” It went on to say that—if I’ve been wondering—this is why I’m sick...because I haven’t been “chosen.”
This upset Mike, and he didn’t want to tell me about the document for a few days. And when he finally did (because I knew something was eating him alive) the news literally brought me to my knees. I prayed, “Dear God, I’d really like to spend eternity with you. I can’t imagine existing away from you. So, if you have room for me in Heaven, that would be great.” I paused. “Why would someone want to hurt me so badly when I’m already going through so much? Why would a ‘Christian’ send this to me?” I exhaled slowly. “Anyway, thanks for listening. Amen.”
It took a couple of days, but after the shock wore off, the whole thing reminded me of something I’ve finally realized about sickness, trials, and flaws.
You see, when I first got cancer, I coped by painting....
I’ve been working my whole life to be worth something—to produce things that made me feel of value (start businesses, write books, play various instruments)—to rid myself of flaws. But when you get a cancer diagnosis, especially stage 4, that is NOT a sign of perfection.
My dad told me the other day how God sent him perfect children. I teared up a little, thinking about how I’m not perfect and cancer is just another blaring sign of that, a beacon saying, “I’m defective—and I’m definitely not good enough.”
But then I remembered my paintings. They are SO terrible that I could never make money off of them. My first few paintings were extra-horrendous because I’d go back and try to fix the flaws over...and over. But spray paint (my cheap medium of choice) dries so quickly that things stay permanent and too much paint just turns to brown soup.
Now, after months of this, I’ve learned to work around the flaws. In fact, some of my favorite parts of these pictures are actually things that went “wrong”...the unfixable turned perfect. And in these flaws I’m seeing such incredible beauty, and the paintings are improving too!
A misplaced white dot turned to snow-capped mountains. A buck transformed into an majestic antelope. Even a boulder turned into the silhouette of a bear!
As I painted yesterday, it hit me again: Who cares if everyone knows I’m flawed, sick, and experiencing trials? I don’t think that designates me as someone shunned by God. This is simply an opportunity to become stronger and rise to the occasion. Maybe THIS is my chance to shine despite hardship! Just like these paintings, I’ll use the undesirable to my advantage. Although I’m exhausted and battling for my life, my soul is becoming resilient...and even things like this judgmental document are making me a better person.
Every day I’m remembering to embrace the imperfections and find beauty in them no matter how hard that might be. It’s a great mindset to live by—whether I get better or not.
So, I’m resolute today: No matter what, I will let positivity buoy me forward...for myself and others.
One of my recent paintings.