Gallery of Gratitude—Week #1 Challenge
When you walk through a gallery or museum and examine the paintings on the walls, you’ll see a huge variety of brush strokes. Some are bold and thick and viscous, shiny streaks of color smeared onto the canvas. Some strokes are soft, virtually indistinguishable, carefully blended to leave no trace of the brush that made it. Each artist has a different touch, a unique style, and a specific result. Some are better than others. Some are more fitting for a particular style. Some are polished, others are rough. But there’s no denying that, without them, the piece of art just wouldn’t be the same. Van Gogh’s Starry Night wouldn’t be the same if the colors were soft and smoothly blended, and Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa wouldn’t look right with swirly, multi-colored strokes of paint.
Just as each painting is made unique by the mark of its artist, we, too, have been shaped by the people in our lives. People who have laughed with us, helped us, cried with us, taught us, enriched us, and made us feel special.
As I walk this path towards having my book published, I’ve noticed that the people who have shared these moments with me—the ones who have lifted me up when I was discouraged, edited my words and shaped my manuscript, pushed me to be better and better and reveal my true self—are such a gift to me. I know I wouldn’t be here, and my book wouldn’t be nearly as good, without the people behind the scenes—the artists holding the brush.
So once a week for the first part of this year, I’m going to paint brief “portraits” of some of the people who have made a difference in my life. (Some recent, some going way back.) I’ll share a single paragraph or short story to honor that person.
But I hope it won’t stop there. Most people never get to know how important they’ve been to you. So will you join me in this challenge? Each Tuesday morning, when your week is still young and you’ve made it through Monday but are not yet face-to-face with Friday’s deadlines, you’ll get an email from me (if you subscribe to my blog). Think of the person who best fits the category and take a few minutes to write a quick note, find an address, and drop the envelope in the mail. (Or send an email, or post a Facebook post, or whatever works for you.)
It’s a small act, but a transformational one. With each note, you’ll send a little bit of light, a little dab of color. You’ll strengthen your connection to people who have mattered to you. And in the process, you get to remember—and give thanks for—the people who helped you become the masterpiece (or work-in-progress) that you are. Gratitude is the very best form of prayer. If you don’t have time to write the notes, it’s OK. But take a minute or two to give thanks to God for this person. Say a little prayer for them right now.
So will you join me? 15 weeks, 15 letters, 15 minutes. To start the new year, 2015.
There are so many people I could mention here, but I’ll just pick one: GOYITA YOUNG. She’s got spunk. Passion. Determination. She serves God with all of her heart. She studies, she digs deep. She prays with fervor and she has fun doing it. As long as I’ve followed God, I’ve learned by observing other people. So I watch her—especially when I wonder, how can I remain passionate about serving God? When I wonder if anyone can maintain this kind of intensity long-term. When I question whether everyone burns out sometimes. And what I see is a woman who wears an attitude of expectation. She comes to church eager to soak it in, alert and open. When people gather at the altar, she moves right to the center and prays for them. She serves. She worships. She doesn’t hesitate to stand up and tell us about the ways she sees God answering prayer, the ways she knows He is real. She goes wherever God is, and she doesn’t hold back. I admire that so much, and I’m so thankful that God put me in a place where I see this weekly. Daily. In her and in so many others.
Who have you learned from? I’d love to know. You don’t need to give full (or even real) names if you don’t want to. But I hope you’ll share some of your stories and relationships in the comments below. It will help us learn a little bit about each other, brighten someone’s day—and, in the process, remind us to make an extra effort to be “that person” for someone else.