"When you look at me, do you see a work of art in the making?"
– Tori Kelly, "Masterpiece"
This month, we have family on our minds. We're heading into a holiday season full of gathering and eating and gift-giving with our families – both those we're born to and those we build. It's a season that can be full of fun and laughter and connection, but it can also be a little frenzied and overwhelming, challenging to navigate. Our relationships with our families can be complicated. There are different personalities, values, and opinions on politics, religion, lifestyles, parenting. There is shared history and often, shared hurt. Sometimes, the people closest to us know best how to push our buttons. Sometimes, the people we love the most get the worst version of us – the version that's overtired and overcritical, irritable and unkind. So, as November arrived, it got us asking ourselves some questions: How can we love our families better this year? In such a busy season, how do we give those closest to us the best of us, even if they would still love us at our worst?
And then we listened to Tori Kelly's new album for the hundredth time.
Last summer, singer-songwriter Tori Kelly sat in the white chair to tell us her story just as she was about to release her Gospel-inspired record, Hiding Place, and we've been playing it pretty much non-stop ever since. This week though, as we were asking these questions, the lyrics to the opening song stood out to us in a way they hadn't before.
"Masterpiece," the first track on Hiding Place, is a song about being a work in progress – about the idea that every day, each of us is being made into an intricate, creative, extraordinary work of art with incalculable value by a loving creator.
Have you ever been to a museum that holds one of the world's most famous masterpieces? There's usually a crowd of people around it, waiting their turn to stand close and just look. While you wait, you can hear people talking – telling each other what they love most about the art, detailing all the things that make it remarkable, that make it a masterpiece. There's a tangible excitement in the room, as if it's a thrill just to be near something so beautiful.
"Masterpiece" is a song about the idea that God sees us this same way – extraordinary, one-of-a-kind, valued, and deeply loved. And, it got us thinking: what if this season, as we get together with our families and closest friends to share meals and gifts and time, we commit to seeing them this way – the way that God does? What if, when we see our closest people, we treat them like it's exciting just to be with them? If, even in the middle of our busiest, most frantic week, when we greet that one family member who always knows how to get under our skin, we tell them something we love about them. What if they did the same for us? Can you imagine how we would feel?
It seems like such a simple idea, albeit much harder in practice. It requires intention and effort, but it's a challenge we're to take on: loving our families well, and moving toward them with kindness, encouragement and grace – the way that God loves and moves toward us.
So, cheers to Tori Kelly – for the inspiration.