By Andrea Cross
It was the last day of the art exhibition. One of our ZOE young adults had her final pieces of artwork displayed, along with the rest of her graduating Arts cohort.
The odds were against my husband and I making it; one of our children had a badly broken leg, another wasn’t feeling well, but we knew we wanted to go encourage, and celebrate, this gifted young woman who we have known and watched grow up over the past nine years.
Rushing and feeling a little disheveled, we set off.
As we arrived at the gallery, we saw her waiting. Her face lit up as she spotted us - filling our hearts with joy. This girl really is special.
We had watched her transition from living with her family at ZOE, towards independence. We had seen her learn to ride a motorcycle, begin university, practice English, cook and manage a budget. We had met her university friends and admired many of their art projects, scattered around the transitional home. We’d watched her settle into her first dormitory room, but also seen the love she exhibited for her family and noticed the times she longed to be around people and her desire to remain connected.
This day was a momentous occasion and reason to reflect on just how far she’d come.
Of course, we wanted to go straight to her work and see what she had produced but her humble, sweet nature meant that she began showing off her peer’s art displays first.
As she led us around the gallery, I was filled with shock and amazement at how good the artwork was. I could not believe that these pieces were actually created by university students. Piece by piece we marveled and stood admiring the time, effort, and detail that was obvious in each different style of artwork.
That’s when we arrived at hers. “Imagining Happiness.”
Upon close inspection, we inquired as to what she had used to create her art pieces. There were five in total.
She told us that she had crushed egg shells and dyed them all different colors and then stuck each tiny piece in place to create the pictures. She explained that she didn’t have as big a budget to spend on her pieces as some of her peers. She needed to be resourceful as well as creative in her pursuit of producing her final art project. I mused that she must’ve eaten a lot of eggs but she told us that she had collected egg shells from wherever she could, including ZOE.
I really love to see things upcycled, recycled, and reused for a different purpose. It’s partly the way I have been raised but I also believe it’s God’s heart for us. Something once seen as waste, thrown out, not needed - He takes those. He repurposes them, He makes something new.
And here we were staring at these beautiful plaques that she had hand crafted but that also symbolized to us how God really can turn our lives around. He takes the parts that are broken and discarded and He pieces them together, maybe not how they were originally, but He makes something new and even more beautiful.
It is a process that takes time to piece together and carefully position. In the hands of the Creator though, He can transform us into something different, stronger, and better than before.