By Donna M. Williams
It is a fact of life; change is inevitable. Buildings, which once stood proudly on well-manicured lots, become bits of imploded concrete that lie in rubble on a vacant place overgrown with weeds. Old haunts become “What happened to?” and the businesses that enjoyed your patronage for many years leave only a sign on a locked and chained door to inform us of a permanent closing. Even in this social media digitalized age, friends move away never to be heard from again. Loved ones pass away into eternity leaving us alone with memories of yesterday’s laughter and sorrow. We look into the mirror and realize that change is rapidly overtaking us. As gray hair sprouts in unspeakable places and that once lush, full, thick head of hair is now thinning in obvious places, while tiny wrinkles twinkle at us from the corner of drooping eyes. Our hips hurt, our knees creak and crackle; the only way we would ever run these days is if someone were chasing us, which would probably only last a few seconds before we would stop to relinquish all our valuables to the pursuer…and catch our breath.
Change of any kind is a challenge to the psyche, as it likes things just the way they are. The philosopher may say, as he strokes his beard in deep thought, “The more things change, the more they stay the same,” but this is not an absolute truth. In reality, the more things change, the more things actually do change. We as creatures of habit and in a familiar habitat, struggle to embrace change; even as the life coaches of the world shout out this very mantra through their megaphones of positive thinking.
Still, every New Year presents us with the possibility and the potential of positive change, new thoughts, new goals, and new beginnings. This is probably why so many people rush to write down resolutions – plans to jump start the New Year. Only to discover that writing the list is the easiest part; whereas, doing, is where the rubber meets the road and challenges present themselves.
The past ten years have been a roller coaster ride for me and it is almost too easy to count the losses. Many things in my life changed and the familiar became unfamiliar. My life was a foreign entity to me. I no longer attended the church my husband pastored for 20 years. The familiar faces I once saw weekly, who were like family, are now few and far in between. Then, I moved to a city where it was unlikely for me to run into anyone who knew me in my “other life.” I am now nine years into a job, where outside of those doors; there is no social interaction with any of my colleagues. Consequently, the last 10 years have been gradual steps of walking out new beginnings, each leading to another. Every time I thought I made it to a level of permanence, voila, another step would appear. It was part of the process – my new journey.
If we keep our focus on what lies ahead, losses we have suffered will remain in the past where they belong. New beginnings are about changes. The reality of embracing them is that challenges come with every change. Because I focused on my future and what life had in store for me, I was able to receive many memorable moments. Over the past 10 years, the gift of life gave me these joyous moments: a new granddaughter, a new job with a promotion, a master’s degree, a church home, published a novel, an essay published in a national print magazine, an advisory board seat for a national conference and a host of other blessings and accomplishments.
As I reflect on the new beginnings and my life, I am reminded of a couple of television shows. One of my favorite television programs is on the Lifetime Network, Project Runway. Even though these aspiring designers have to design on the fly, there is one thing I have noticed about their new beginning (and every show is a new beginning for them). They always begin with a sketch, an idea of how their creation should look as it comes down the runway. The designer who has no preliminary sketch (preliminary because there are always some changes along the way) is often the designer who flounders in the workroom and trembles before the judges.
The other show is Top Chef on the Bravo Channel. Top Chef requires these chefs to also have a preliminary sketch, except, it’s called prep work in their kitchens. Their menus and dishes must be planned down to the last pinch of salt, which is why they can create wonderful dishes during the quick fire challenge. While every creation is a new beginning, it is also a culmination of the prep work that may feel like drudgery, but is really a master work in progress.
Now that we are embarking upon a New Year, our time has come to begin our preliminary sketch – to do the prep work for our New Year. When January 1st arrives, God is going to hand each of us a blank canvas for us to paint the portrait of our year. Will you be ready? Will you know what to do? I’m glad you asked. Here are some suggestions on how to create your preliminary sketch or conduct your prep work for your 2013 canvas.
Art with God 101
- Begin daily art sessions in the presence of the Lord.
- Ask Him about His likes and dislikes.
- Present preliminary sketch work to Him for approval (or disapproval).
- Use broad strokes of obedience in your piece.
- Add in bright colors of joy and thanksgiving.
- Don’t forget those warm shades of reverence and awe.
- A product that glorifies God, one that proves His will is good and acceptable, must be worked on daily.
- Create your piece with fear and trembling, a reverence for the work and awe for the Master Creator.
- Do not seek credit for your work; it is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.
- When you make a mistake, go to God right away; He can restore your work to its original state.
- The longer you take to admit your mistakes to God, the longer it will take to shake the effects of those mistakes – the darkness that will blind you to the light of grace that surrounds you as you work.
- Praise God that He is not like earthly art critics who lambaste an artist’s work and destroy their careers. Our God wants us to succeed.
- Do not faint in that day of adversity when the enemy would try to destroy or steal your portrait; the Lord God is always with you.
Just like God has planted some seeds inside of you to paint on your portrait, He has been nudging me concerning a new ministry outreach for pastor’s wives. For years this specific ministry has been placed on the back burner many times. Now, God is practically demanding that I do my preliminary sketch regarding this ministry for the New Year, and He is not taking ‘NO’ for an answer. It is my hopes you are encouraged to walk out and execute everything God is prompting you to do in this new year – this new opportunity to create a new sketch. All God wants from us, His children, is that we be responsible and accountable artists. I think I can handle that expectation, can you? All we need to remember is that it’s all about God, we are just the artist. Knowing a new canvas will be presented to me on January 1st, I am excited about God’s guidance in my life and the opportunity to create for Him (singing, “It’s a new season, it’s a new day” as I take a pencil in hand and pad to begin my sketch).
Donna M. Williams
Contributing Writer, B.L.O.G. Magazine
A pastor’s wife of twenty years (now a pastor’s widow), Donna wants to encourage all women of faith to integrate Ephesians 4:1 into their everyday lives as well as to always remember that “A woman’s place is in the will of God.” Donna is the radio host of the weekly talk show “Issues After Dark: Ladies Night” (www.RMGradio.org), a show that takes a frank look at the challenges women face each day as well as the perks and pain of being the pastor’s wife. She maintains a blog, “Off the Air” (www.donnanotdiva.wordpress.com) and is also a contributor to the Religazine Media Group Website (www.Religazine.com) and the Hinterland Gazette (www.hingerlandgazette.com). She is a contributing author in the 2012 devotional Zoe Life Inspired, and is the author of a novel, The First Lady Chronicles: Quiet Desperation.