For the longest time, I really didn’t have a discernable hobby. I mean I’ve always enjoyed doing lots (and lots and lots) of different things, but I never felt like I had a concentrated focus on any activity or interest to consider it my answer to what I would do for pleasure or relaxation.
Many of my closest friends and family members (especially my husband) would readily agree that the lack of doing something purely for pleasure or relaxation has been kind of a problem for me. I don’t know if anyone ever bluntly told me to “go find a hobby.” Maybe they should’ve. Hmm… Actually, I probably would’ve responded with, “I don’t have time,” which is evidently exactly why I needed one. But I digress.
Several years ago, I discovered paint-your-own-pottery. I loved the creative process. I loved that so long as I approached painting like I was a 9 year old coloring a picture, it turned out pretty cool looking. AND, I loved that I could use it in my daily life.
After a while, however, I found that paint-your-own-pottery was getting pretty expensive. And really, how many mugs, plates, bowls, and light-switch plates does a girl need? Well, over the course of 10+ years, it amounts to quite a bit of both: cost and stuff.
While excitedly working on painting a replacement tea mug, I mentioned my creative joy and my stumbling blocks to my friend, Stacey. I wanted to do “this kind of thing” more often, but didn’t want the excessive cost or stuff. She suggested: “Try painting on paper, just for the fun of it. No one even has to see it if you don’t want them to.”
So I did try. Twice. Instead of feeling excitement, relaxation, and pleasure, I was filled with anxiety, completely stressed out about what I was supposed to paint and why. The process itself was tainted by the fact that I genuinely didn’t like what I painted. Moreover, I really did want to do something with it. There was something about the overall purpose of the creation that generated joy for me.
Shortly after these failed attempts at making painting itself a hobby, Stacey’s sister Sara offered her own version of “Pinot and Picasso,” where she taught my group of girlfriends how to paint our own copy of a work of art with step-by-step instructions. In case you missed it in the class title, there was also a promise of wine, so I was in.
Intimidated even further by the thought of painting on canvas, I hesitated at every step. Then Sara said something that changed my whole approach to painting:
This insight allowed me to experiment without hesitation. I had infinite do-over’s. If something didn’t work, I could just try again, and again, and again until I liked it. Sometimes that meant starting over. Sometimes it meant painting over the one spot that wasn’t working. It removed the pressure of feeling like I had to have the whole thing perfectly planned out before I even started. Or feeling like it was ruined by one little (or big) mistake.
As a proactive person, I don’t ever want to feel stuck in a complaining rut. I’d much rather feel empowered to do something about it. With this just paint over it insight, instead of feeling bound by a choice my attitude became one of exploring the possibilities.
What a wonderful approach to all of life! If you don’t like something, just paint over it. As I looked around at my house, my relationships, my work, and inward at myself, this insight became one of transformation. Don’t trash it; don’t brush it under the carpet and ignore it. If I didn’t like something, I could transform it.
In faith, this is the transformation that is linked to forgiveness. The Greek word for what happens in the transforming process of forgiveness is metanoia. It is a change of heart, a conversion where the person turns away from what is destructive, hurtful, hateful, and instead turns towards God.
Turning towards God involves
- forgiving oneself and transforming one’s own character
- forgiving others, seeking forgiveness from others, and transforming relationships
- seeking forgiveness from God and becoming transformed.
Put another way, metanoia is about
- becoming more (and more and more) of a good person
- doing what is right
- acting with love
- helping others
- Looking around your own life, what would you like to just paint over and transform?