As Ellie grows, I am getting startled and scared about how my parenting can greatly influence her development.
This past week, I came to the unscientific conclusion based upon self-reflection that we have a guiding statement at somepoint in our child, which greatly influences our worldview. I wish I could claim mine was biblical (in the literal sense, though I think their is some theological teeth to it). But it actually came from my third grade art teacher, who told me,
“There are no mistakes in art.”
This was revolutionary to an elementary child. Everywhere else, I was being taught about rules, and living into the “system” of standardized education. I was being told to never ever let the #2 pencil cross outside the boundaries of those little bubbles, because otherwise I would be doomed to fail the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Life was being set with boundaries, with rules, with structure…and then this art teacher spoke one little sentence, which she could have never realized how profound that statement was on my life, “There are no mistakes in art.”
It took me a long, long time to really accept that Truth. Not in a Joel Osteen, there is no “sin” sort of way, but a providential God sort of way. Though I am not sure I fully have, it can be seen in my artistic transformation. My early artwork was maticulous detailed drawings, where each brick was drawn in exacting and exhausting detail. Then, my senior year of college, I witnessed and experienced people I greatly respected make dramatic “mistakes.” At that moment, the words of my teacher echoed in my heart telling me to explore past the boundaries, to draw with abandonment, to accept the tears of the paper, to expect the finished product to look nothing like I had imagined. To dig deep within my heart and explore the depth of God’s creativity.
I can remember the first “exhibit” I did following this transformation. I had such joy, release and peace from the experience that the following week a fellow student put up his own creative release and when asked why he had drastically transformed his approach he said that he had wanted to try what Wes was describing.
Why do I write this now? Because I realize that I want to pass along a similar abandonment, joy and peace to Ellie. Not because an art teacher once said it, but because God says it to each of us: “you know that Christ appeared so that he might take away our sins.” That she would feel free to make mistakes and accept the tears (pun intended) and to expect that life may look nothing like we imagine, but that God is working it all out for His good.