While helping my son study for his test in art class, we read about Philip Gaston, an artist who allowed himself to be filmed while painting. At the end of the film, he covered the picture he had just painted with a layer of white paint so he could begin again. When asked why he would do such a thing, he replied that he accepted setbacks as normal and even necessary. His experience told him that revision would allow an idea to grow beyond an obvious or familiar starting point.
Sometimes you just have to begin again
For the last several months, I’ve been trying to rework things to fit into my new season of life. I’ve been trying to transition into my new neighborhood and new church just as I have with our previous moves. I’ve been trying to create routines and activities like I did before. I’ve been trying to think of myself as the same person I’ve been for the last twenty years. It hasn’t worked.
Life is different now. Instead of trying to keep up with five active teenagers in my home, I’m encouraging, supporting, and loving five college students, four from afar. Instead of having my kids’ friends in and out of the house filling it with energy and laughter, it’s just the three of us who can be pretty quiet. Instead of counters filled with backpacks and the floor with shoes, there are empty spaces. Instead of automatic friendships forming because our kids share the same activities or interests, there are a lot of lonely lunches and days without witty banter except with the cashier at the local HEB.
There are, of course, good things. My husband and I have time to actually talk uninterrupted and have quick, week night dates. I have some extra time to help my son at home learn the skills he’ll need to eventually live on his own. I get to hear about my kids’ new adventures and watch them become full fledged adults. And I have time to pursue old and new interests.
But things are not the same. Old ways of doing things, meeting new people, getting involved in ministry, or chasing a dream, just aren’t working. It’s time to reevaluate, paint the canvas white, and begin again.
I’m having to reconsider who Karen is without the various labels that have defined me for many years. Labels that I like. Labels that helped define who I was and what I did. Labels that helped to form my identity: wife, mother, stay at home mom, mom of multiples, mom of a special needs child. I can hear some of you now…you shouldn’t have let those labels define you in the first place. If you had just remained secure in your own identity, you wouldn’t be where you are now. That may be true. But I know I’m not the only one who struggles with identity in a season of change. Just ask anyone who’s retired from a job after thirty years.
This process is hard. There are no quick and easy answers to all my questions. It’s requiring me to spend some time with God, shoring up my foundation of who He is and who I am in Christ. And He’s challenging me to embrace who He has made me to be, not who I wish I was, who is usually someone way more talented, physically fit, creative, driven, technologically savvy, kind, loving, etc.
Paint the canvas white
So, I’m painting the canvas white, getting rid of some old ideas and ways of doing things. I’m getting rid of my preconceived notions of what my life should look like at this moment or in the years to come. This is challenging. I thought by now, I would be further along, more secure, more together, more… But I’m still in progress and I’m not really sure what’s ahead.
I’m also letting go of how I’ve done things in the past and trying new ways of approaching life and pursuing my dream. This is uncomfortable. I like consistency. I like doing what I know. Trying new avenues can be unnerving. What if I make a fool of myself? What if it doesn’t work? What if it does?
Part of beginning again starts here on my blog. I’ve been changing a few things, reaching out to others for help, and determining to follow through with some dreams. Dreams of not only developing my writing, but of speaking more and connecting with people face to face.
I’ll still be writing about life and the lessons God is teaching me in the midst of this journey. Some of the old me will definitely come through, but hopefully fresh brushstrokes will appear, creating a new work of art I hadn’t imagined before.
So this is the beginning of becoming Karen. My journey of abiding in God’s love, learning and embracing who He’s made me to be, doing what He’s called me to do, and living the abundant life He came to give. My hope is that as I discover Karen, you are encouraged to be YOU, the person you were created to be. After all, each of us are a beautiful, unique masterpiece fashioned by God to bring Him delight and glory. I think it’s time to share…