Last week my husband and I took the opportunity to have a short getaway with our adult children, staying in a luxury apartment by the beach. We have enjoyed staying at these apartments a few times prior and always comment on how, although the layout is similar, each apartment is unique in terms of décor and styling. In this particular apartment we were confronted by a large piece of artwork that dominated one of the walls in the living area and became a bit of a talking point for the family.
“Oh, I don’t like that painting” was the first critique, with “Really, I don’t mind it, I just don’t think those colours are the right choice for this space” spoken in reply. Another family member could see no value in the artwork at all declaring “That just looks like a big mess – a kindergarten student could have done better!” and the final judgment was something along the lines of; “I just don’t get why people would pay good money for this type of painting, it’s just a piece of junk.”
Now, I need to clarify, unsurprisingly, not one member of my immediate family is an artist, has studied art or has any real appreciation of art whatsoever. Thus, our collective comments about this artwork did not come from any place of authority or reflect a level of expertise. However, after having spent the best part of four days exposed to this painting, my son suddenly exclaimed “I can see a fish! Look, in the painting, it’s not just random splotches – it’s actually a fish!”
We all gathered around the painting, tilting our heads and squinting our eyes to scrutinise it more closely and sure enough – we could all see it too!
In fact, on further inspection we discovered there was not just one fish but three fish depicted in the painting. What we had first thought was a series of haphazard colourful markings on a piece of canvas now had meaning, purpose and value.
It is true, that in many areas of our lives we see things differently to other people. We can even see ourselves differently to the way others do. In my role working in a school, relating with hundreds of young people each week, I have realised that not many adolescents always see themselves in a positive light. The level of self-critique and personalised judgment of themselves and each other is at times, both scary and detrimental.
As a parent, I have navigated this path with my own children and despite what I thought were my constant affirmations and words of praise and encouragement toward them, there were times when they just didn’t see it. Despite my reassurances that they were special, valuable and much loved, they could not see the amazing talents and character traits that I admire in them so much.
Yet, if I am honest with myself, just like my children, there are many times in my life when I fail to see what God sees when he looks at me and others. Consider for one moment, how different our lives would be if we all saw ourselves and each other in the same way that God sees us, and if we appreciated one another in accordance with the value that God places on us.
In Psalm 119:18 the Psalmist cries out to God; “Open my eyes so I can see what you show me”. Just like that painting on the wall in our apartment, God not only designed each one of us for a purpose, but we are a much loved and valuable masterpiece in his eyes. Imagine how different life would be if we approached each interaction or situation through a God shaped lens – asking Him to show us what he sees?