Open Doors, Open Heart

I use to think that I couldn’t paint, draw, or color. I figured those artistic feats were reserved for those who could actually see what they were doing. Besides, I couldn’t even see an entire sheet of paper in one glance unless I sat back and looked at a distance. There was no way I could do any detail work because I could only focus on one area of a project at a time.
Imagine my surprise when I discovered color-by-number! For the first time in my non-artistic life I was able to simply follow directions and fill in color wherever it was necessary. I could almost see an entire section through my magnifier, and so if a particular space corresponded to the number 4, I would color that space with the designated shade. Since I couldn’t see the entire picture very clearly, I often didn’t know what picture would emerge. Often, color-by-numbers are good for children, so the picture would often be a princess, monkey or some other animal, cartoon character, or some other kid-friendly image. But even as an adult, I would color these pages for something to do or in order to de-stress. It didn’t matter what the image turned out to be. In fact, I kind of liked the surprise when I was finished. Once all of the spaces were colored in, it was much easier for me to understand what I was seeing. No longer was the page a mass of black and white sectioned-off spaces. It was a completed, colorful picture.
I was thinking about coloring recently as I walked through my empty house. It was so quiet, and it was hard to imagine that just a year ago, the walls of my little home were filled with friends and frequent guests. I couldn’t help but recall the girls’ night Valentines event I had hosted in which we spent the entire evening just coloring. My friend Anna had designed a heart-themed coloring sheet, and I purchased the design online. I printed several sheets and we set to work. The entire sheet was filled with various-sized hearts and a cute little message scripted in the center. You wouldn’t think it would take a long time to complete a coloring sheet, but this was advanced coloring. There was so much detail, and I loved it! I think my friends enjoyed it too. We bonded through that experience, and when our projects were completed, we felt a certain element of satisfaction.
So as I walked through my quiet home, I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad. If you’ve been reading my posts lately, you’ve probably caught on to a bit of melancholy. Resigning from a much-loved occupation has taken a piece of my heart and caused me to wonder what comes next. It’s an exciting time in my life but also quite unnerving. I spent six years identifying myself with a particular cause and co-existing organization, and until I resigned, I hadn’t realized just how invested I had been in the work. To suddenly find myself free of all obligation has been a strange mix of liberation and deep sadness.
So what does color-by-number, resigning from camp and an empty house have in common? Well, trust me, they do connect. Last year, I faced a similarly quiet Fall season. I prayed and asked God to show me what I was supposed to do with my time and the extra space I had in my new home. He helped me to see the need, and as a result, I hosted a few dinner parties, a ladies’ Bible Study, and simply made myself available to friends who needed some time away from the stresses of life. Our night of coloring on Valentine’s Day was one of those opportunities God opened to me.
Although I have still hosted a few parties and even more overnight guests, it seems a bit hollow now. I often question if I am being a good hostess or if I am simply doing it out of obligation. Do I feel that I have to do this, or is it something I want to do? This single girl thoroughly enjoys it when people are coming and going from the house. It makes life interesting and far more active than my solitary lifestyle. But what happens when opportunities start to slip through the cracks?
Just like a new coloring sheet when the black and white spaces blur together in my line of vision, it is hard for me to perceive God’s plan in this season of my life. I resigned from camp, hoping for some time and space to reflect and re-examine my future goals. I certainly have time now… probably too much time. I was excited to get into the Fall routine— joining Bible Studies and ministries at the church. But one-by-one, opportunities passed me by. I missed the deadline to participate in two Bible Studies, and the study that I hosted at home is currently not meeting. My friends from last year’s dinner parties have gone their separate ways, and I’m not leading or coordinating anything other than a blessing ministry for the elderly.
I often wonder what I will see when I look back at the end of this year. I know God will be faithful and open doors for me, but right now, everything seems a little empty. Surprisingly, I am not depressed by this level of uncertainty. Yes, my days are quiet, but I have enough to do in my worship leading that I have purpose and direction for this season. But I want more. I want to be used for His Kingdom, and I feel I am ready. But maybe God is using this time to shape and mold me for something bigger on the horizon. If I simply rushed ahead, I might not have this opportunity to be molded through His Master Plan. I need to be patient for the answers to come. Until then, I am sitting in my quiet house… coloring. The doors are wide open and my heart is eager.

Our Valentine's coloring party in progress!
Our Valentine’s coloring party in progress!

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