Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to control your tongue? You probably know. Heck, the book of Proverbs (in the Bible) talks about this. It’s called the wisdom book for a reason, y’all. James 3:3-12 is all over the topic of taming the tongue. I think it’s in there so often because it’s applicable to all of us.
Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to paint your own face? Maybe you do. Especially if you took a painting class and someone gave you this crazy hard assignment. I cannot imagine why you would tackle this otherwise. Maybe you’re a great artist- because I was told that every great artist does a self portrait. Or you’re into self torture. Same thing.
Last weekend was also Easter, which is the equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday in the church world. Basically we have twice as many people as usual. On top of that, we begin our day 2-3 hours earlier than normal. My church has this incredible outdoor sunrise service that is, well, frankly, just too early to be dealing with people. We gear up and plan accordingly, and smile and greet everyone. It’s really one of my favorite holidays, despite reporting for duty at dark-thirty.
I spent HOURS on my self portrait. Probably 2-3 hours on the one pose that I abandoned. (I need some gesso, obviously). I chose to paint the photo with the tricky angles (read about it here) and it was due for the final critique last week. I stayed up very late the night before finishing it. I wasn’t totally happy with it, but it was done enough. Plus, beauty sleep.
At church, I oversee several areas and the people within those areas. My teams, and more importantly, the leaders of those teams, are incredible. Most of the time I just walk around and chat and make sure everything is going well. I don’t actually have to do much of anything except put out fires or make minor corrections. Easter Sunday seems to have more pressure than normal, and I was really feeling it.
My cool hippie art professor deemed my painting “most improved since the last class”. I took that as a high complement. He commented how tricky mine was because of its perspective and lack of shadows on my face. I had captured my eyes well – which is critical. I had mimicked the background style with the highlights in my hair. One could sense that my arms were correct (even though I think they looked hairy) and overall he said I did a good job.
And then I blew it only two hours in. I overstepped my bounds in a sensitive area with a new volunteer. She left in tears, vowing to not come back. I erred, and it was on the side of judgment, not the side of grace. This was upsetting to many in this serving area, and it hung heavy like a dark cloud. Traces of it rumbled on throughout the next week.
Though I said I was done with this painting, he suggested I make one more improvement. Then he said something I’ve never heard in my life. He said my mouth was too small (could he please sign a sworn statement to this?). One of my best features was captured in the photo, but I didn’t translate it very accurately onto the canvas. My smile wasn’t quite as full and bright as the one I am known to share.
After much prayer and conversation with other leaders, the young volunteer and I made peace over coffee last week. I was grateful that she was willing to meet. We were open and honest about our Easter morning exchange. She expressed her vulnerability and ensuing hurt. I expressed my deepest and most sincere apologies, which she accepted. She extended so much grace, though I am the one who should have granted it to her in the first place. She will be back, and all is well. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.
I am grateful that humble pie doesn’t have too many calories. I would also agree it’s best if you can eat while it’s still warm.
It’s been an interesting and learning experience with these two swirls of thought in my head over the past week. My mouth is too big. My mouth, without a filter of grace, can be so damaging. My mouth is too small. My mouth, when I’m smiling, is one of my best features.
So for today, I will be smiling more and judging less. My self portrait isn’t finished, but then, neither am I.
Thanks for reading, until next time,