Watercolor and Love

After a morning spent watercoloring a few charcoal sketches, I buttoned up my coat and took to the dirt road near our home, which cascades down between cropland and flows between wild apple trees further on. This summer, the fields were seeded with corn. When they were at their height, the paper stalks formed castle walls on either side, green in summer, golden in autumn. Sapling maples fringe the road, bursting sweet berry-red to distract from the now-naked fields. Scattered kernels are the only vestige that a castle ever existed on this island.

As my boots were kicking up russet dust, my heart suddenly grew soft, soft enough to absorb the quiet blanketing the countryside, the warm tinge in the air, the pastel sky nestled against the tucked-away fields ahead. Another Rosary bead rolled between my thumb and forefinger, and I realized: God’s will does not always entail suffering. Sometimes it simply means resting in His presence, in His creation. Sometimes it means creating—whether a whimsical watercolor or homemaking with the thrift treasures I scavenged. Why do I often feel that to be accomplishing God’s will, I must be at least a little uncomfortable?

His will is that we love Him—but He also wills to love us. And He loves us by helping us to fall deeper in love with Himself. For me, loving Him is enjoying my husband’s company over a good meal. It is going out for lunch with a friend to share our ups and downs with each other. It is snuggling up by the lamp at night to read an enriching book. In such moments, I am drawn closer to Him through His goodness.

And then there are times when God’s will does indeed entail suffering—but only because suffering will help us to love Him more. If the cross will not lead to resurrection, He simply will not allow it—if this were not true, He would not have become the God-Man. Suffering, with Him, is never without purpose, never without fruit. And this fruit—greater love between Him and I—is only possible if I trust that, in this moment, it is better that I be more uncomfortable than not. This may mean folding the laundry when I’d rather be watercoloring, or writing rather than walking—and sometimes it means taking a Rosary walk rather than writing. It means living across the country from my mother and father and siblings, because here is where I am called to live. It means spending many hours alone, because I am called to write. It means surrendering my desire for a farmhouse and chickens and being willing to live in a city. He can foresee the path that will lead me to greater love—I cannot. And so I must trust.

God’s will, I am coming to see, is never something to be feared, not even when it requires more than mere discomfort—but pain. Even the greatest tragedy He will allow if it will draw us closer to Him. No, He is not a sadistic God who enjoys watching us crawl to Him in our suffering. He is a God who knows that our greatest good is to fall in greater and greater love with Him. And so, whether His will is that I wander through the darkness of loneliness, searching for Light—or drink Lindor-infused cocoa on a Sunday afternoon, feet-to-feet with my husband, I do it for love of Him.

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