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Embracing the Ugly

Cute llama illustration.

I’m enjoying creating my Quirky Animals collection. The second installment is this adorable llama. But, boy, the process of getting to the finished cutie pie was ugly! I started with drawing from a photo, and it was too realistic for what I was after. I wanted cute! Give me cute, for crying out loud! So, I drew multiple attempts, trying to capture the essence of a llama, yet exaggerating features to cutify it. It was awful. Then I looked at several illustrations and got a bit closer, then finally found my sweet llama girl that I was after!

I looked back at the practice pages and, though I knew that a sketchbook was a place to play and experiment, they were so ugly I planned to rip them out.

Llama sketch.
First attempt.

But then I thought about Paul and his letter to the believers in Philippi. He shared his desire “to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.” He said, “I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!” (Philippians 3:10-11 NLT) But there is a process that happens on our way to that day when we see Jesus face to face. Paul said, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. …but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the

llama sketch
Second through fifth attempts. Grr!

past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:12-14 NLT)

I find it really hard to be okay with my potential to screw up. And that performance anxiety produces a reluctance to move forward toward my goal. What am I afraid of? I think I’m afraid of disappointing myself, my husband, and others whom I am serving. I’m afraid if I mess up, they will always think of me as the person who can’t do…(fill in the blank with whatever it was I failed at.) Or, even if they do recognize my progress, I’m

llama sketch
Six and seven.

embarrassed about my past failures. If someone says, “You’ve really improved in your musical ability,” I think, “Man I guess I really stunk when I started out.” I have got to get it in my head that no one starts out as an expert!!! And even experts don’t succeed at everything they attempt!

But even more important than the normalness of failure is the truth of my relationship with God through Jesus. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Woohoo!!! God loves me and counts me clean through faith in Jesus. And if I do

llama sketch
Getting closer.

something He doesn’t like, I can agree with Him that it is wrong, and He will forgive me and cleanse me, and I can turn away from that behavior with a clean slate and close relationship with Him. That is amazing!

So, I’m encouraging myself, and hopefully you, to embrace the missteps and the ugly art of life, to keep trying, and to move ever closer to the masterpiece called ME (or YOU) that God is creating.


cute llama watercolor illustration
Oh, my gosh! So cute!

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