When Colors Collide

watercolors

My colors collided. Again.

I didn’t even realize it; never saw it coming.

That’s what happens when you keep painting and painting and painting… never rinsing out your brush. Never acknowledging each individual color for the beautiful contribution that it is.

Because each color serves a purpose, you know. Each one is necessary to complete the overall picture.

And I’m not talking paint, by the way. These “colors” are what I use to refer to as feelings. So, for instance, yellow would obviously be a happy feeling. Dark blue, not so much. Red? I’m thinking anger, right? Green… hm, maybe greed. Or perhaps envy. And orange, I think I’ll assign that as thankful. There are so many more…

I remember as a little girl having a watercolor set with a variety of eight colors and a thin, nylon paintbrush that was so flimsy, you couldn’t paint a pin-straight line with it to save your life. (Not to mention the brush hairs that kept coming out and sticking to your precious art piece. Fun memories.)

Nevertheless, I loved to paint and was always excited when it was art time in grammar school. It was even more exciting when my watercolors were brand-new. Each color looked perfect in its oval bed, not yet tainted by my incredibly artistic talent. But, alas, before I knew it, I would be painting away…first green, then yellow, maybe brown, then midnight blue…and it wouldn’t be long before those colors weren’t so vibrant anymore. Or individual.

I have to tell you, as a former, professional second-grade watercolor painter, it’s a disaster when your colors all start to blend together because you went a little overkill on the water usage. And never rinsed out your brush after dealing with each individual color.

You no longer recognize each color for what it is. It all becomes one dark, murky-gray puddle.

And even more, it means you can no longer use each color individually, brushing their unique essences on just the right spot of your canvas so that they each work in perfect harmony with one another. Complementing each another. Making the bigger picture.

Kinda like our feelings.

The last six months, there have been so many highs and lows, I couldn’t even tell you… one yellow, the next dark blue…then orange, and a few times green…I got so busy trying to cope with all of life’s colors the “Christian” way that I crashed the other day. Hit a wall – big time. All of the ups and downs, so many of them – too many of them – collided together and became one dark, gloomy mess.

So, what do I mean by the “Christian” way? Reading my Bible. Reading devotionals. Memorizing Scripture. Listening to Podcasts or watching Beth Moore on Wednesday’s with Beth. Praying. Fasting. Letting things go. Forgiving. Moving on. Forgetting what lies behind. All the prudent things any serious Christ follower would do.

But…can it ever be too much? Or better yet, can the “Christian” way ever be a way to avoid – so you don’t have to deal with all your colors?

I was talking to a good friend of mine. She told me to hang in there. Christ’s power is in me – use it. Don’t let the enemy get to me. Don’t give up.

What an amazing friend. And I agree with her! But I have to be honest. Those words just bounced off of me like a rubber ball off that same grammar school blacktop I used to paint at. I couldn’t “do” anymore. I had been frantically doing so much ‘Christian way’ stuff to keep me going, I wasn’t addressing all my colors.

I ignored my feelings – good and bad – so I could press on and, in wanting to do things the “right” way, not hurt this person with my red color. Or make that person mad with my green color. Or that person jealous with my yellow one.

I fell right into the trap of legalism; legalism that says you shouldn’t feel bad if you’re a Christian. Legalism that says you shouldn’t feel too good if you’re a Christian. Legalism that says denying yourself means denying the very essence of who you are – human. Body, spirit, mind, and emotions. Legalism that says you can’t feel opposite feelings at the same time; like you can’t be thankful and angry simultaneously.

I beg to differ. Right now, I am very angry at some things and extremely thankful for others.

So, amongst my many musings over the last few days, I came to a conclusion:

The problem isn’t having all of those feelings at the same time; it’s believing the lie that it’s either impossible to have them all at once or wrong to have them at all. And when we buy into that trap, we stuff. We deny. And all our colors start bleeding together, creating nothing more than indistinguishable and unusable chaos.

Since I have finally come to the end of myself, (yet one more time), I’ve been thinking. It would have been so much better – and right – for me to, instead of hiding behind religiosity, acknowledge each colorful feeling for what it was, talk about it and be okay with it. In fact, if I read my Bible correctly, confessing and dealing with truth are also part of the Christian way.

I’ve also been reminded that each color – every feeling, every experience – will be perfectly placed on the canvas of my life by the great Master Artist himself to create a good and beautiful overall picture.

Each color has a place in my life. Each one will serve a good purpose. Because God said so.

I’m starting to separate my colors, one by one. (Yes, you can do that with a make-believe watercolor tray.) For starters, I dumped on my husband. (Don’t worry, he’s pretty friggin’ awesome and has learned how to handle me by now.) I also dumped on a few other pretty cool family members and friends – letting it all out. I’m going back through many of the experiences of the last six months and processing how I’ve felt about them. How I still feel about them.

I’m already feeling a little less gray, although I’m not completely there yet; wherever the heck “there” is.

I humbly accept your prayers. (After all, we should never really do away with the Christian way.)

11 thoughts on “When Colors Collide

  1. Laurie

    Excellent Sherri, Not only did you make this a very colorful analogy but also one that is relate-able and your words make it easy to recognize. Thank you for you excellent blogs, your writing is making a difference in others and in yourself. Love you….

    Reply
  2. Cindy Rouland

    As always, you articulate your thoughts so clearly and paint a beautiful picture that gets me to thinking about my own life…in colors tonight, of course. Thank you! I’m praying for you tonight, my friend…

    Reply
  3. Anonymous

    so good, Sherri! We can all relate but could not have expressed ourselves as you did so eloquently. I would make a good addition to your book for sure. Love U!

    Reply
  4. Pingback: When life still sucks and you want to run away | Sherri Stone-Bennett

  5. Jillypoo

    Beautifully written. Truthful, funny and profound. And yes, I was never sent this blog Colors Collide. I found this through the link on your latest blog which I did receive. I love your analogy of painting for obvious reasons my being a painting junkie these days.

    I have always been a black and white thinker and feeler, separating events into high highs and low lows. I could catastrophize ANYTHING. That is the alkie in me, but I also believe it is also part of having an artistic mind. I think being gray or muddled- colored is where I get to the real nitty gritty wrestling of my feelings, and also the color I have to be to find solution and surrender and release everything over to God. Until I get into that murky stuff I will not let go. My will still takes over. But after the surrender or release, peace comes, and my colors separate back to beautiful brilliance, or calm hues, just as you said.

    You see, I am a messy painter. Ask anyone who has gone painting with me. On my pallet I let colors run into each other. I slap different colors on top of other colors on my canvas. I am not neat. I get paint on my face, pants, hands, etc. But when I really let go and get creatively messy like that, I end up doing my best work. Just like your blogs. xoxoxo

    Reply
    1. sherribennettblog Post author

      Gosh, I love what you said: “But when I really let go and get creatively messy like that, I end up doing my best work.” Reminds me of 2 Cor. 12:9 where God’s grace is sufficient in our weaknesses. He makes beautiful things out of our messes! Thank you!

      Reply

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