The Crayola box of 64 colors was my favorite. Suddenly, our choices weren’t limited to 8 or 16 or 24. A new box meant fresh crayons with no torn paper and sharp new points. They were in neat rows, all the same height in four sections of rainbows. There was even a sharpener on the back of the box. Bonus! Some of my crayons never lost their point because I didn’t use them. I favored the blues and yellows, a couple of the greens, browns and, quite sparingly, red. But raw umber? Not likely. Ochre? No thanks. Definitely not Salmon. And you can bet I worked hard at coloring inside the lines.
Adult coloring books are a thing now giving us grownups an excuse to color without pretending we’re doing it for our kids or grandkids. I have a coloring app on my iPad. Amazon has even created a page for their most popular adult coloring books. My app has a variety of patterns and with a tap of my finger I color in the sections on the design I’ve chosen. With far more than 64 colors to choose from, I’ve determined to use more than the blues, yellows and earth tones.
Digital coloring helps me take the risk of trying something new. If the color isn’t what I want, click, and another color appears. I try new combinations and learn which shades compliment and which ones are flat out ugly. Art is subjective, of course.
Coloring is one way I practice self-care. It’s a simple grace I give myself. It is always grace we need to mend the bruises of our soul. Grace that reminds us to breathe when the world is moving too fast. Grace that holds us when we’re tired of holding everyone else.
While my coloring is neat and deliberate and always inside the lines, grace has ignored every line in my life. It is messy and beautiful at the same time. It’s like a Picasso or Pollack, both styles I don’t like for their helter-skelter approach. Yet, what I need is messy grace that isn’t about trying to get it right. I need the scribble of colors, the splash of paint spilling over ignoring the lines I’ve drawn around my life.
Grace paints the evening sky where clouds are wisps of orange bleeding over the indigo of the sky. Grace is irregular in its designs and speaks of creation. It is disorder painted across the order with which God created the world.
It’s hard to understand this grace. It’s hard to let go the urge to even try to understand it because it’s not made for knowing other than to know we are loved. I am loved. My irregular lines, the crooked smile and left foot that is slightly bigger than the right. My messy life of fighting anxiety and depression, of negative self-talk. The harsh words I yell from behind my steering wheel. Yes, grace says I’m loved even when those dark shades seem to paint my life.