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Do you ever do something that you regret? Or maybe you don’t do something and you regret it. We’ve all been there, right? Well let me share a little story from my week; let’s call this story...

The Time I Messed Up and God Loved Me Anyway.

Okay, let’s set the scene:

Maddie is sitting on the couch, bundled in her fuzzy pink blanket. Her laptop is on her lap, its blue glare reflecting on her blue-light blocking glasses. This is hour six on the computer, as she muddles her way through class after class.

Brow furrowed in concentration, she gingerly uses her stylus to draw a line, then the next; an artwork is unfolding before her, a character stares back at her through the harsh blue lens.

Fast forward three hours, and a wary smile etches her face. The sketch is complete, the laptop shut in triumph. She plugs in the charger, gets in her pajamas, and calls it a night.

The next day is much the same. She praises God for her blue light glasses. As the sun lowers in the sky, Maddie closes her laptop, but not nearly with as much glee; she still has hours of work ahead of her.

Now comes the time to transform this digital sketch into a physical painting.

So she takes her handy print-out and her dad’s old light box and clomps down to the kitchen.

The kitchen island has become her work studio.

Drop cloths are laid, brushes and paints and water and paper towels replace pots and pans. She places the light box on the counter, plugs it in, and turns it on.

Stark hospital lighting pierces her gaze. If only her glasses worked on white light too. Suppressing a sigh, she grabs her sketch and a blank piece of watercolor paper, and gets to work. Line after line, eyes straining as she traces fine lines, dark shapes.

Finally the tracing is done. The light box is flipped off. Hallelujah.

Now onto painting.

Hunched over the countertop, Maddie quickly whips up a few shades of gray. She lightly dips her brush in the liquid medium.

She is cautious but she is not afraid. She was born to create.

And so, create she does, stroke after stroke, hour after hour.

But its not perfect.

The clean lines from the computer have become shaky from her hand. The paint is not layering right. The texture of the paper is coming through. The circle is oblong, the brushstrokes are jagged, the edges aren’t smooth. The imperfections may as well have flashing lights and bullseyes painted around them, so glaring they are in her sight.

But its late, her back hurts, her head throbs. So she ignores the flaws, her artistic intuition buried under denial and pride. Perfection is not attainable anyway, she reasons.

She sets the painting aside, tidies the kitchen, hastily rinses the brushes, and lugs the light box up the steps.

By the time she comes back, the painting is dry, so she snaps a few photos of it, submits the photos for her class, and calls it a night.

Fast forward two days.

Maddie is on her computer yet again, zooming in to her art critique. Her professor points out the flaws that she so vehemently denied.

The paper, the brushstrokes, the hastiness of it all. It was a good idea, he said, but the execution needs work.

She nods at the screen and smiles, all the while fuming inside.

Torn between wanting to slam her laptop and cry, she sits through the meeting, her mind going a mile-a-minute. At first, she is angry at everyone, berating her classmates’ work and blaming her teacher.

But then, that still small voice whispers into her heart:

Beloved, you aren’t mad at them, you are mad at you.

Light floods her mind, but this light it isn’t blue or stark white. This light is a warm yellow. It envelops her mind and wraps her heart in a great big bear hug. And with Light comes clarity, and humility.

It wasn’t the painting’s flaws that were imperfect, but rather her attitude.

Yes, she was tired. Yes, she can never attain perfection, whether with her artwork or with herself. But that does not mean that she should’ve given up, that she should’ve submitted to her pride.

She knew her work was riddled with mistakes, but she chose to talk herself up anyway. What an awesome painter she is! How great is she?!

Her work became a method of self-glorification, not of Godly-glorification.

She claimed her talent as her own, forgetting the One who steadies her hands and guides each stroke.

Pride and denial took over because she didn’t want to face the fact that she made mistakes; Maddie was flawed and her work reflected that (and her grade likely will too).

But here’s the funny thing: Maddie isn’t ashamed of being flawed, or of sinning or of being prideful.

Not anymore, not today.

Because Light broke through the darkness wading in her heart. And it set her free.

The warm hug of Heaven spoke life, conviction but not condemnation, into her soul.

It illuminated her imperfections, shone a spotlight on her sins, but did so through the lens of love. Not stark, not painful, but cleansing, beautiful.

This is her story, one instance of her Father’s love out of the multitude of stories that she could share. By tomorrow she will likely have another, for her imperfections are great. But the perfect love of our perfect Savior is far greater.

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