All Our Walls Are Painted

“I never knew paint meant so much.”

Look around the room you’re in right now. I don’t care if it’s your house, your workplace, school, a coffee shop, or the doctor’s office. Are the walls painted?

Chances are, every wall in the room is painted. The paint might be chipped. The walls might need a fresh coat. But I bet all the walls are painted.

I was talking with a very dear friend just a few days ago and she told me about her son’s most recent revelation. Now, her son is 12-years-old. Most people don’t expect too many life revelations out of someone so young. But his thoughts hit me hard.

He recently went to Memphis on a mission trip. He didn’t go far. He wasn’t in a third world country. He was right here in America in Memphis, TN.

His mom told me about his trip and about the things he said after his return. She had tears in her eyes as she spoke proudly about her son.

Some of the kids on the trip were able to work directly with the less fortunate kids at the place they were serving, but he was on the “construction crew.”

At first, he was bummed that he wouldn’t be working directly with people. I find myself feeling the same way. If I’m not speaking with someone and watching their reaction from my service, I feel like I haven’t done anything worthwhile — like I haven’t touched a life.

His mom said when he returned, he stood up at church to talk about his trip. He said a lot of really moving things. His instructor even said, “He really got it.” He had really grasped what the trip was all about.

But the thing that stood out to me the most that his mom told me he said was, “I never knew paint meant so much.” The kids had gotten so excited that they now had painted walls.

It hit me. All my walls in my house are painted. They always have been. And I have never once thought about it nor have I ever appreciated it.

Now, I certainly have wished for more. All the time, all too often, I think “What if I had a house like that, a car like that, clothes like that…” The list goes on and on and on.

But these kids were jumping up and down with genuine happiness because there was a coat of paint on their walls.

It touched me that a 12-year-old had really understood how much of a difference he had made to these kids just with a little bit of paint. He knew the paint made a difference, but him taking the time and love to paint the wall made even more of a difference.

If you’re reading this, I bet you have a life full of paint. If you’ve never acknowledged that before, think about it right now. Think about all the walls in your life that are painted.

Like the room you’re in that might have chipped paint, some areas of your life might need a fresh coat, but nevertheless, the walls have still been painted at some point.

When I went home that night after talking with my friend, I didn’t think one time about how I wish I had a bigger television or new clothes in my closet. I took a good, hard look at every wall in my room before I went to sleep. I smiled and thanked God for my painted walls and went to sleep more peacefully than I have in a while.

Man, God sure did a good paint job on my life. He’s quite the artist. And the least I can do is pass that along and paint someone else’s world.

I’m Giving Up on Love

When we give it up, we finally get it.

I have struggled with love my entire life.

And I don’t just mean romantically. I’m always worried about love. It’s my number one thought, fear, priority, and worry all in one.

I have turned a beautiful, wonderful thing into something so dark and draining.

So I decided to finally give up. I gave up trying to be loved and trying to be in love.

It’s so silly that I ever even thought it was something achievable.

That’s the thing; I’m a goal-driven go-getter. I have to have a goal in mind every single day. Whether it’s getting out of the shower at a certain time, doing my work to a certain caliber, running a certain amount of miles, or a list of other things, I just make little mini goals and that’s how I live most of my life.

So, I turned love into a goal. Other people had it, so I probably should try my best to get it. It’s the best thing in the world! So, clearly, I have to be my very best me to get it, right?

Since it was always a goal, it’s something I thought about every day, just like the rest of my longterm, major goals.

It’s one of those things I’m just no good at it. Well, I’m no good at getting. I love. I mean I really love…too hard. I do it to my family, my friends, anyone I’ve ever had a relationship with. I just love so much and expect an unrealistic amount of love in return.

Love has always been such a burden for me. I’ve always been so concerned about whether or not people love me. And when I know they don’t, it eats away at me for a very long time.

That’s no way to live. And that’s certainly no way to love.

So I finally gave up. I gave up trying to meet the love of my life in every coffee shop, in every big city, at every park, at every bookstore, at every restaurant. I just gave up.

I gave up on making sure I was always looking and acting “perfect” to make sure I would be up to par in case I ever ran into “him.”

I also gave up on trying to make sure everyone around me always loved me.

The people that are supposed to love me love me when I’m the worst I can be. That’s how you know it’s love. They might love me at my best, but, more importantly, they love me when I’m not nice or pretty or fun or lovable — and that’s true love.

Anyone can love you when you’re dolled up and in a lovely mood. But what about the days you’re in sweats and want to punch everyone in sight? Who will still love you and remind you why you should still love yourself even in your darkest moments?

I just really gave up on the idea that love is meant to be earned. Love cannot ever be earned. It’s a gift and a prize, but it can only be given, not taken.

Just like we can’t earn God’s love, we can’t earn anyone else’s either. When we finally start aligning our relationships with our relationship with God, love starts to make a little more sense. It becomes a little easier and way more fun. It becomes more about accepting the love we are given and deserve than trying to achieve some non-existing perfect love.

Fairytales are wonderful and beautiful. Love stories in movies and books are good for the soul. But it was the hardest thing in the world to tell myself to stop basing life off of fictional characters. I mean, that is tough. Every girl wants a fairytale ending. So, how dare I tell myself I won’t have a “Notebook” kind of love?

The thing is, I might! I might really have the most incredible love story anyone has ever heard, but if I wake up every day waiting for it to happen, chances are I’ll be waiting impatiently for a while.

It just has to happen. It has to be a normal day. Then it’ll happen.

I don’t just mean I’ll find my husband. When I really give it all up and stop dwelling, I’ll realize that people do love me. I’ll take a good look at the people that always have and always will. And I’ll finally love myself, so, everyone around me will too. It’s hard to not love people that unconditionally love themselves. Love is contagious.

When I was getting my nails done the other day, my nail lady said, “Don’t worry, someone will come knocking at your door one day.”

Someone will come knock, but no one can ever knock if my door is wide open.

So, I finally gave up and closed the door. I’ll be more than ready when someone finally knocks.