Life by numbers

A few years ago, I was in a really big “life-rut.” I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life, whether I was on the right path (or even if I was on one to begin with), or where God might be leading me.

I posted a note on Facebook, and I am now somewhat hesitant to post it again because the following day my house burned down. So, that having been said, if something awful happens, then don’t repost this.


When I was younger and still in regular school, we would color and paint and draw in class for Art. My favorite part was to paint and color by numbers. As a child, it was sometimes hard to figure out what colors went where on the page, and even more difficult to stay inside the lines.

Looking back, I like knowing it was easy. There was a plan, simple as that. Colors went where they should, how they should. Stay inside the lines and you’ll be fine. When there is a plan, and we follow that plan, we feel pretty good about doing as we were meant to do.

I think for most young adults today, life is very similar to ‘painting by numbers’ and I am not so sure that we should be too happy about it. When our parents were younger, it seems there were fewer colors to choose from, fewer numbers to remember. The lines were more clearly defined. Blue was blue, yellow was yellow. Decisions were easier, life was slower. Not to say it wasn’t hard to grow up in the 50’s and 60’s, but I would almost take it over today, no cell phones and internet and all.

Today, there are more colors than we could ever use. We sit down and start to paint at a young age. We follow the plan; Elementary, Middle and High School. College is next for most of us. This is all fairly easy, like painting by numbers if there are 8 colors and 8 numbers. They correspond and, for the most part, they make sense. But something happens in College.

This is where the painting gets hard. Who would have though there were so many shades of color? Blues, reds, greens and yellows. The colors (or absence of) black and white are nowhere to be found. Choose a major, choose a life, choose a future, choose a specialization, choose a career path… the numbers go on and on. I am afraid we lose track of where we started.

What started out as beautiful as a Michelangelo is now closer to looking like the jumbled mess of a Pollock. When did it get so hard to see where the lines were? When did the numbers get so big it was too hard to follow the plan? Is there even a plan at all?

I would like to think that, in a way, I am painting by numbers in my life. I am fairly certain there is a plan, even if I have lost the instructions. It should be easy to see what the next step would logically be. We are born, we go to school for many years, we go some more and some more and eventually, we form a family and career.

But somewhere along the way, I missed where the painting got hard. Remembering which colors go where has never been more difficult. Once I find the directions, I should be in good shape, well on my way to a Masterpiece.



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