Brushstrokes on the heart
Brushstrokes on the heart

By Cindy Parker, Freelance writer

November 2021“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NKJV).

Several years ago, I taught fifth grade art, and one of my students was visually impaired – completely. I pondered as to how I could make his visual arts experience one of creativity and fun when he was unable to distinguish between colors or see demonstrations and examples. As his class entered my art room for the very first time, I was extremely nervous.

“Wow!” exclaimed one student. “I love how colorful your art room is!”

“Me too!” responded … the blind child. Others looked at him with odd expressions.

“How do you know her room is colorful?” the first student asked. “You’re blind!” Dead silence filled the room. A school room packed with 25 fifth-graders totally quiet? Almost impossible.

Then their blind classmate broke the silence.

“Being able to see the art room doesn’t have anything to do with my happiness in being here,” he explained, “because I don’t choose to focus on what I wish was different about my life. I can tell through your eyes that it must be colorful and fun!”

A little child shall lead
That moment was one of the biggest student-taught lessons I have ever learned. It was profound for my entire classroom of students, and I think they all looked at their blind classmate through very different lenses, just as I did.

I, a visual arts teacher, should learn to see more like my students see, because God has blessed me so richly. I could see it clearly, just like my blind student. I had been worried about teaching what was unfamiliar, and God used my anxiety to teach me an enormous lesson of gratefulness. Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34, NKJV).

There truly are no uncovered days or circumstances in life to worry about.

My visually-impaired student motivated me to try to form a habit of practicing thankfulness every day. I decided to write down a different thing every day that I was the most grateful for, big or small. On good days, it was easy, and on challenging days, my commitment to a life of gratitude was difficult but not impossible.

I decided I could write my gratefulness anywhere: on my dry erase board at school; in the margins of my Bible; on my hand in ink; on my computer screen; as personal notes of motivation to my own children; or even in the brushstrokes of a new painting. I could do this!

Adults should follow
Whatever our circumstances, we can find areas in life that are to be commended and celebrated! When we focus on positive things and give thanks for each one, our burdens will grow lighter. Why not find a way to write out and live out life’s daily blessings every day and praise God for His amazing grace?

Thankfulness and happiness are daily choices. Christians have the most obvious reason to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for our salvation in Christ Jesus. A focus on thankfulness and gratitude should be a priority every day of our lives, not solely on Thanksgiving Day.

I invite you to join this grateful art teacher, and let a little blind boy inspire your thanksgiving spirit. Make thankfulness a conscious habit in your life, and watch God bless you and your family ten times over.