Monday, August 11, 2014

Religious Reflections 03 | A la Renoir

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. 
You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage, 
but He is building a palace." 
―C.S. Lewis

Lately I've been listening to the Mormon Channel while I drive. I unintentionally discovered it one day. I knew it was something you could stream online, but I hadn't realized that they actually have a station in Salt Lake. I listened to it a little, and, admittedly, forgot about it. The other day I was feeling tired of the radio--flipping through the stations as each less-than-wholesome song came on. It's pretty disheartening how much garbage is on the airwaves these days. I'm a word nerd. I pay attention to the messages that songs are conveying. The prevalence of degrading, over-sexualized lyrics is less than impressive. And, with a limit on the amount of Pandora I can play (I only have so many gigs of data after all) I needed something different than the mainstream.

...That's when I remembered how I had stumbled across the Mormon Channel that one time. I found it again, and I've been listening ever since. They play spiritual and uplifting music, talks from general authorities, and conduct interviews with a variety of noteworthy and famous Mormons. It's pretty amazing what a difference it has made for me. I don't even spend that much time in the car-- a few errands here and there--but I already feel stronger and more inspired. I feel better. The injection of spirituality and positivity into my routine is just the boost that I needed.

One talk that played recently which was particularly poignant to me was given by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He spoke of the famous painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir-- a French impressionist painter who was profoundly impressive in light of a chronic, debilitating condition. In his later years Renoir developed rheumatoid arthritis. Rather than retiring from art, he painted in spite of his deformed hands and the excruciating pain it caused him. What's more, he remained positive throughout his illness. Rather than reflecting the pain and anguish he felt, his paintings gave no hint of darkness. Instead they were masterpieces depicting life's beauty.

When asked by a fellow painter why he tortured himself by continuing to paint, he said "the pain passeth... but the beauty remains." And, what really struck me...

"One must from time to time attempt things that are beyond one's capacity." 

Life is hard. It's meant to be. And, oftentimes when we're really trying and giving it our all--that's precisely when it gets harder. I suppose that's the essence of the quote by C.S. Lewis at the beginning of this post. When we let God in and allow Him to make His improvements--the process will be painful. Yet, when all is said and done, He will have built us into something far beyond what we would--what we could--have imagined for ourselves.

Even though I strive for an "attitude of gratitude," I'm not nearly as positive as I could be. I would even describe myself as ungrateful at times. Motherhood, wifehood, homemaking, blogging, church callings, and family obligations all add up and I get overwhelmed. I feel inadequate to the tasks at hand, and I'm tempted to feel sorry for myself.

Hearing the story of Renoir and his unfailing work ethic and optimism really hit home. It made me realize that I need to attempt things that are "beyond my capacity." Because, with God, all things are within the realm of possibility. I can do hard things. God can make a palace out of me if I will let him. And, in the style of Renoir, I can undergo these renovations with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart.
Sincerely yours,  


  1. I loved this post Autumn! Thank you for your thoughts!
    I nominated you for the liebster award! Head to my blog to see the questions I've come up with for you!


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