What Color Shall We Paint?
Raising two girls kept my house full of action, unexpected outbursts of Disney Princess songs, and what I have lovingly named “estrogen grenades.” There was always a faint smell of the complete inventory of Bath and Body Works, hair ties randomly found in every room and an odd amount of glitter that would hang in the air for years, only to be found at odd times in very odd places. My girls each had their own rooms and shortly after we moved in they decided to decorate and paint. My oldest daughter instantly knew that she would pick the color of Sleeping Beauty’s pink dress and painted her room Pepto Bismol Pink. My youngest daughter, at the age of three, taped paint swatches to her walls including almost every color that Crayola has ever thought of. She agonized over the decision, falling on the floor in tears with the uncertainty, until one day I said, “Just Pick.”
She painted her room bright, sun glasses required yellow.
So there we were with the room of Bepto Bismol and the room with the Sun Glasses, and all was good. For a while.
It didn’t take long until the yellow just wasn’t cutting it for my daughter. She begged and pleaded, and did lists of chores to earn the money to paint her room again. With paint swatches covering the walls again, we found ourselves with the same forced decision. “Just Pick.” Finally we landed on a deep purple with stripes of deep blue and silver below a handrail. Soon, that just wasn’t good and so after the chores and negotiating we landed in neon green. Then more chores, and negotiating and clearly evident parental exhaustion, and I found myself entering a room with pitch black walls.
I have been horribly hurt in my life. I have had people mislead and betray me, and I have been damaged and scarred so deep that only the Creator could see the carnage. I have been changed by things done to me, but once I find myself on the other side of the crisis, when the onslaught is over, sitting and staring at the damaged walls in front of me I have to ask the question, “What now?” The answer…forgiveness. I have to break out that paint and go through the agonizing process of acknowledging the pain and the hurt and the ones that have hurt me, and go through the process of painting over each transgression with a layer of freshly applied paint.
I forgive you.
Looking around, I am in awe at the beauty of unmarked, clean walls knowing that my forgiveness took away the hold the damage had on me. Sometimes, it doesn’t take long for the blemishes to bleed through, and what once looked so perfect and clean now shows scars and damage of hurt and pain. And I know what I must do. I’ve done it before. I work to find the energy to prepare the surfaces of my heart, to prime and edge, and forgive again. I cover each one of those blemishes with the seal of fresh forgiveness…again. Occasionally after years of being awed by the beauty around me, even as I’m parading people around my room showing them the walls have been painted, I get almost whiplash as I look around and notice a blemish, or a scratch beginning to show through. Sometimes after being so sure that I have forgiven, I am faced with the reality that I may in fact need to do it again. I may need a fresh layer of paint.
Sometimes forgiveness is a journey. It’s a gift we give ourselves repeatedly so that the hurt and the pain don’t turn to resentment and bitterness. Sometimes we just need to pray for the patience and strength to forgive the same hurt, or the same blemish as many times as it takes until we no longer see it.
As I look around the room today, with the fresh coat of forgiveness shining on the walls, I pray that this time God will soften my heart so that I never need to do this again. Today, as I see the blessing of forgiveness around me, I know that each time I forgive, I give it to God. So even if it’s Pepto Bismal Pink or Sunglasses Yellow I’m praying that this time will be the last time I need to paint.