The water color technique used by Monet and many others during this era come together to illustrate a beautiful scene of a bridge and lush greenery and water lilies in a pond.
But if you were to walk up to this painting and look at just a small piece of it, it would look less defined, less intentional, and a little bit like a mess. You might wonder what the artist was thinking.
When viewed this closely, the painting looks nothing like the water lilies under a bridge that Monet intended. But he never intended for us to look at his paintings this way.
I loved the message from that brief testimony and tucked away that reminder to step back more often and look at the bigger picture and the eternal plan instead of examining the things that appear to be flaws.
And then, as frequently happens these days, I had an immediate opportunity to apply that little lesson.
A friend caught me in the hall right after Sacrament and handed me this catalog. It's the Deseret Book Christmas catalog which is mailed out across the country right after Thanksgiving every year.
He flipped to the center of the catalog and right in the middle of the thing was a half page advertisement for Time Out for Women.
I'm not the most photogenic person in the world. I let people take pictures of me because I know my kids will want proof that their mother existed, but it's rare that I love the way they turn out. And this one was no exception. The little man who handed it to me, though, was so excited that he knew a "famous" family that I didn't have the heart to let him see the disappointment I was actually feeling. He gushed about how beautiful we were and how fun it was for his kids to see their babysitter in a magazine! (very sweet)
A handful of other people have emailed or texted us after seeing the ad in the last two days, also with excitement and support for their "famous" friends. But I secretly cringe every time I think about that catalog being mailed to thousands of people across the country. Because when I focus on the small, magnified close up photo of just me in that picture, I can see that I had not slept at all the night before, that I weighed about 15 pounds more in that picture than I do now, that it was a spontaneous photo shoot, and that I hadn't applied any lipstick or brushed my hair since arriving at the event five hours earlier. It's not exactly the one I would have picked for our annual Christmas card.
BUT…when I step back farther away from the picture of me and look at my daughters and read the quote and the tag line, I can see more clearly the intention of the promotional directors who organized this ad. They weren't looking for super models, they were looking for real people who radiate happiness from the inside even on their worst hair day. And that's what these girls have. They are hopeful about their futures. They love the gospel and the Savior. They loved this event. They love each other. And I am so grateful to have that picture capture that for us.
I still have to remind myself every time I get a text from yet another relative or friend, that it's not about ME. It's about the message being conveyed. They are not looking at it under a microscope. They are looking at that ad and hopefully thinking that we are closer because we made time to share this experience together. And we are.
We loved this event. We love that they're going to continue the Time Out for Girls program next year. And we will definitely be attending and volunteering again.
I'm grateful for the man whose testimony prevented a potentially frustrating day for me. Had he not been inspired to say those things in that earlier meeting, I might have assumed that everyone was looking at that picture as critically as I am, and I might have been overcome with insecurity and wanted to hide in a bathroom instead of teaching my Sunday School class. But because I had that simple, truthful testimony repeating over and over again in my head, I didn't do that. I did something better. I taught my lesson. I smiled at people. I showed the ad to my husband and the other girls. And I'm swallowing my pride and blogging about it, so I remember when the next unflattering picture attempts to knock me off my game.
I'm grateful for the testimonies of other people and the way they lift us. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father has a much broader perspective than I do. And I'm grateful that despite my flaws, mediocre talent, and unflattering photos, He has a unique and divine plan for me that I will still be able to accomplish if I step back and get rid of the magnifying glass.