I have a tendency to either see life like a sunny sky that's always been sunny and always will be… or the exact opposite—like a dark sky that's always been dark and always will be. One day, a couple of years ago, I was beginning to feel that ominous sky creeping into my mind. It was lunch time and I thought to myself—hey, I think I'll watch a documentary while I eat lunch. That sounds nice. A few weeks before I'd heard someone say there was an interesting documentary about Sea World. Sure enough, I found it on Netflix and sat there munching a salad, ready to be entertained, and hoping to feel a little less gloomy afterwards. The documentary was very sad. Very, very sad. I didn't watch the whole thing, but I definitely watched enough. When I picked my kids up from school, they told me about their day and I remember thinking, That's really sad. Just like Sea World. And I continued to think those same words—That's really sad. Just like Sea World—about nearly everything I heard for the next three months. It's amazing how many things you can relate back to a sad documentary if you set your mind to it. After a while I started thinking—you know, the world is just one big Sea World, and all of it is really, really sad. I was super depressed. I might have continued that way forever, or at least for a good bit longer, if it weren't for a certain family of geese.
I realized that I had taken a joyful event...and had managed to make it into a postponed sad event by tacking the words, "this time", on to the end of my sentence.
I was driving along, thinking sad thoughts that all went straight back to Sea World when I noticed this family of geese attempting to cross a busy road. I was certain they were all going to die, but to my surprise the car in front of me stopped in time for them to get across, and the car coming from the other direction did the same. The geese made it. Out loud I said, "Oh, thank the Lord! They made it! This time." Hearing myself say this out loud I realized that I had taken a joyful event—a bunch of geese not being squashed flat—and had managed to make it into a postponed sad event by tacking the words, "this time", on to the end of my sentence. The ridiculousness of this had a jolting effect. What had I been doing for the last three months? There had probably been good things here and there the whole time, but I'd colored them all with that wretched documentary.
I decided to think back and try to see God's provisions—all the places He'd been shining through that I had not noticed before. I thought back, and there they were! The provisions had not necessarily been in the form I would have chosen, and so I had counted them as nothings at the time. I had looked straight past them. But now that I was intentionally looking for them, I could see so many. Little kindnesses. Little moments. Big kindnesses. Big moments.
Creating art is a form of dwelling on an idea. It's an active dwelling.
There's this one verse that says, "Whatever is true, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, if there is any excellence, anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things." Creating art is a form of dwelling on an idea. It's an active dwelling. If I spent a long time painting a picture that had a hopeless message I would be negatively affected by it. I'd probably "go Sea World" after 45 minutes—maybe quicker. It doesn't take long for all the color to get sucked out of my view. That's why I only paint hopeful pictures. Some of my paintings have deep sadness mixed in. The ideas and stories for some came to my mind when I was praying about very difficult and dark situations, but they are all centered on hope. I paint pictures of the light winning.
I've found that it's important for me to search for the light and hold onto it—even the memory of it—and to notice quickly when i'm sitting in the darkness and dwelling on the gloom. The act of painting is one of the ways I hold on to the light. Avoiding incredibly sad documentaries is another.