I had expected more. I don't know exactly what I wanted, but this wasn't it.
A friend of mine was leaving her job. About three years ago I wrote a story about her, and she loved it so much that she had asked me to autograph a copy before she left so she could frame it.
I thought it would make a nice gift to give her, so I decided to have someone add color and graphics to enhance the story. I would then have it framed and present it to her on her last day.
When I contacted an artist friend, she offered to send an advance copy of it for my approval when it was finished. "That's not necessary," I told her. "There is no one I would trust more with this project."
A few days before she was to mail it to me, I received an email with a file attachment. It was the picture, and I was very disappointed.
As I sat there looking at it, I kept hearing myself say, "There is no one I would trust more with this project."
"I have to accept this." I said to myself.
I sat back in my chair and moaned. "What can I do? I need this for next week, and it will take time to have it shipped to me. I can't cancel it," I thought.
I closed the attached file and was about to reply to the email with some fake, appreciative words, when I noticed there was also a message. In it, she explained how she had come up with the idea for the art.
"Oh my God!" I said softly. I opened the image again. What before seemed too simplistic was suddenly perfect.
In the process of creating this piece, my artist friend had asked me to provide personal details about the recipient.
I wrote about the personal challenges she had been through. She had been married three times. The first two husbands died, one committed suicide in bed next to her. The present marriage is ending in divorce, and she has two sons, one of whom is addicted to drugs.
Now she will be unemployed and faced with starting her life over.
Those details, I assumed, would result in one fabulous work of art, adding depth to the story I had written.
My artist friend had simply added a rainbow. A fractured one at that—the arch broken into small bits and pieces.
I hated it...until I saw it through the eyes of the one who created it.
My artist friend wrote: "Somehow a regular rainbow seemed too simplistic, but this concept seemed to me to fit her ‘real’ story. Our rainbows are often in pieces, but that doesn't make them any less precious."
She was right. When I had told her about my friend, I highlighted only the tragic events. My artist friend, ever the creative thinker, saw between those tragedies.
The spaces between events were indeed filled with little joys, special loving moments, and many friends.
When I presented the gift, I first explained the image. Though her life experiences had always toughened her response to "touchy-feely" things, that wasn’t her reaction now, not today.
We both cried.
There were two lessons here for me. One, I learned to look at the whole picture when viewing someone's life; and two, perhaps even more important, I learned that in order to understand my own life's challenges, I needed to see my life through the eyes of the Creator.