There is a painting, which I painted while in college, that was leaning against a wall in my husband's study. He said that it was one of his favorite things in the house and that he enjoyed looking at it every day. I didn't give this much thought until he mentioned that, along with some other artwork, he wanted to have the painting framed. I was amazed.
Why would anyone want to frame something that I'd painted in college? Did he actually want to hang it in the house - alongside real artwork?
I have always been sensitive about my talents as an artist, to the extent that I changed my major in the middle of my senior year from studio art to art history just so I would not have to exhibit my artwork. When people saw it, I would downplay their compliments and criticize my own work. I thought I was being humble.
Now, years later, I was once again agonized by the thought of people seeing my painting (the only one I still have from college). When I discussed this with my husband, he lovingly pointed out that what I considered humility was insecurity disguising itself as humility. As I thought about his comment, I realized I had been allowing doubt and lack of confidence to overshadow my joy and creativity. I believe that the source of all creativity and expression is God, and that it's important to glorify God and acknowledge Him in all we do.
In the Bible, I found some wonderful insights into this idea, such as this statement: "... unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" (Eph. 4:7, 8).
Humility is grace expressed, praising God and being joyful in the sharing of this grace. This grace could be expressing love for a friend, being patient in a business meeting, or strategically maneuvering a boat in a regatta. All the talents we possess are from God and deserve to be shared.
Being proud of our accomplishments and acknowledging their divine source allows us to express our talent at a higher level. The founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Humility is the stepping-stone to a higher recognition of Deity" ("Miscellaneous Writings," pg. 1).
By expanding my thought to see all that God has created, I am able to see more beauty, color, and form in my artwork. Since God is the creator of all, He motivates everything we do.
How can we see God's gifts as unworthy to share? Mary Baker Eddy writes, "If we feel the aspiration, humility, gratitude, and love which our words express, - this God accepts; and it is wise not to try to deceive ourselves or others, for 'there is nothing covered that shall not be revealed' " ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 8). We can be more aware of and grateful for the talents that other people share.
By looking for the inspiration in other people's artwork instead of comparing it to mine, I am able to remove the tendency to criticize my own work or to feel inferior. This allows me to appreciate the idea of unlimited vision and interpretation.
My painting, which is now framed, hangs in our home in a visible spot. While looking at it, a friend commented on the lovely artwork in our home and wondered where we had gotten this particular painting. With true humility - and joy - I told her that I had done this painting. Now each expression of my creativity knows no bounds - whether it is knitting a sweater, creating a gift card, or painting a picture. I truly do glorify God as I create - and share my talents.
Let the beauty of the
Lord our God be upon us:
and establish thou the work
of our hands upon us; yea,
the work of our hands
establish thou it.