“The gospel of Jesus Christ is simply beautiful and beautifully simple” – Elder Matthew Cowley
Almost an Artist
I wasn’t always an artist. I wasn’t terrible in art classes, and I’ve always loved crafting and creating, but there was nothing very special about what I did and I was always less than satisfied with the results.
I felt bad about my lack of ability because my soul has always thrilled at beautiful things, and I so wanted to feel the joy of creating them.
Finally – slowly and unexpectedly I learned new skills that resulted in my own designs and artwork. Whether it’s a photograph, an illustration, or a webpage, I love creating now, and feel so fulfilled by it!
One day I was walking downtown and looking around, and realized what had made the difference for me. As I looked at the buildings and trees and everything else around me, I realized that I see the world in shapes now. Some things are composed of one or two simple shapes, and some are more complex – but all things basically break down into a series of shapes.
I used to see the details before anything else – and it blinded me to the overall picture. I wasn’t seeing the forest for the trees. Without the basic shapes in place to form the objects correctly, the artwork would come out skewed and warped.
Now, once I have the basic shapes in place, the details fit in nicely and enhance the overall picture.
As I reflected on that difference in perception I realized that it’s the same way the gospel works.
If we neglect the basics, ignore them, or never really learn and make them part of our lives, our gospel perspective easily becomes warped and skewed as we try to incorporate the little details without the simple gospel shapes to keep them in their proper place.
I’ve thought of times that I had personally neglected those beautiful gospel basics and how overwhelming and difficult it seemed to live the gospel fully. I had lost the beauty and simplicity that are at the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ and become encumbered with the details – details I applied to my life picture without the benefit of the perspective the basic gospel shapes would give them.
Glamour and mystery do not lead to eternal life. Some overlook the great rewards and the joys of the gospel because they feel that the gift of eternal life and the knowledge of the Savior can only be attained by ornamentation and mystery. The Lord has told us that we must learn line upon line and precept upon precept. (Marvin J. Ashton, “The Power of Plainness,” Ensign, May 1977, 66)
When we feel overwhelmed by details, we can step back a bit and look for the simple shapes. We can begin there, with those wonderful basics, and leave the details to fall into their proper place in time.
And when life’s storms make even the basic shapes hard to make out, we can always look to our relationship with our Savior, the most basic and beautiful of the shapes, the Rock that we build every lasting thing upon.