I have a graphic design friend who is a genius at his job. Watching him work photoshop is like watching a master pianist quickly playing his keyboard to create something beautiful. Out of sheer inspiration after seeing him work his magic, I decided that I need to learn to do what he does. Unfortunately, as with most things, it is harder than it looks.
I have come to understand some of the basics of using programs like photoshop – working in layers, and using the different tools – yet it is usually the picture I am trying to create or manipulate that gives me the most problems.
In the digital age, colors are no longer blended together like mixing paint. Instead, everything you see on your computer screen is made up of extremely small squares called pixels that are each made to look a certain color, and as your eyes see the transitions from pixel to pixel, it appears that the colors are blended together to create the beautiful graphic you are looking at…
That is, unless you are looking at a graphic that I designed. Then, although it may be difficult to figure out exactly why, there usually seems to be something that is wrong.
My problem in using photoshop is that I cannot get the pixels to blend or run together to create the specific shapes that I am needing to make. Now, you can look at some of my little creations and they look ok, but then some, there is just something off-putting about them. It isn’t that they look bad, or that you can’t tell what it is supposed to be at all, it is just that at the pixel level, something is going wrong.
I think our lives are very similar to digital artwork.
When we look at our lives, it can be like we are seeing the picture on a computer screen. When asked how our life is going, we tend to say that things are going well or that their not, talking about the whole picture.
We also tend to break down our lives’ “whole picture” into different categories such as work, family, school, hobbies, friends, etc. These categories, then, would be like the colors that blend together to make our life what it is.
Now, this breakdown of our lives is usually as far as most of us go. Especially in casual conversation. We may get the whole life question, “How are things going?” But then at other times, we get the smaller color-specific questions, “How’s the family,” or “How’s work going?”
If that’s as deep as we look, though, then what about those times in our lives when everything is going good, yet something still seems to be completely be out of sorts and we can’t quite put our finger on the problem? Work is great, home life is great, and we have some free time to pursue our hobbies, yet for some reason, and we just can’t figure out why, there seems to be something wrong somewhere. These are the times that many of us tend to shut down and stress out. I think the problem lies in that most of us are not trained to do the pixel work in our lives.
You don’t have to look to the pixel level of the picture to see the separation of colors. Pixels are what you have to look at when you must begin to blend those colors together. This is the area where your family life and business life must overlap. This is where we can say things are going well at work, and things are good at home, but there is something in that transition that just isn’t right.
Before I stretch out the analogy too far, let me state my point as simply as I can.
As Americans we tend to look at our lives either as one big general picture, or categorically as the array of colors, but to take a digital pallet of colors and form them into a masterpiece, you can’t ignore the pixel level. The shades of colors must match up and blend together smoothly.
What if your life, no matter how good things seem to be going in each area of it, doesn’t match up? Let me give an example: Let’s say your home life is that of a solid Christian family that serves their local church, is involved in community service and wants to be a force for good in the world. Your work life, on the other hand, is that of a shrewd businessman who uses underhanded business tactics to build your business and keep customers. Although both of those things may be working great for you within their own realm, whenever you try to keep those things lined up with one another, you can’t blend the pixels together to make it work. They don’t match up.
So what do we do?
I think the place to start is to sit down and look at your God-given purpose and calling in every area of your life. If God is the Lord over your life, then He will work things to make you the person He wants you to be in each category of life and the whole picture will be beautiful and glorifying to Him.
If, however, you decide to determine your own life purpose and direction, then each area of your life will become very self-serving and ultimately disjointed. You may end up with a complete picture, but it will be obvious that something is wrong.
Where to start?
Try this. Sit down for an hour or two and make a list of every category of your life and then spend some time in prayer asking God what type of person He wants you to be and how He wants you to lead and serve in that area.
As He begins to give you that direction, if you will walk in obedience as His Spirit leads you, I promise that the pixels of your life will start to smooth themselves out. In following Him, your life will become the beautiful picture it was intended to be.
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