I never thought I’d be grateful in my prayers for something as ordinary as a button. It started with my mom’s idea. She knew my love for painting, and when she saw the mass of acrylic gold buttons, she only saw their potential. She also knew my limits, how my body wouldn’t let me do a lot, no matter how much my mind and self wanted to. Those mass-produced gold buttons—she knew I could make them unique and beautiful with my paintbrush. That’s how I started painting buttons.
I was tentatively enthusiastic about it. I didn’t know if my painting skills had gotten rusty—but there was one way to find out. After the initial spraying of a huge spread of buttons with primer, I chose the ones I wanted to paint. A thrill went through me as soon as I dipped the brush into the paint and watched it transform those buttons. I reveled in this new experience that gave me freedom to really choose and be in control of something. I had lost so much control and choice when I became sick. Like how I no longer had time or energy for art, how my symptoms would fluctuate with no warning, or how I didn’t have a choice when I stayed home from school.
My painting time also became my thinking time. I began to realize how thankful I was for buttons, ordinary buttons. But I suppose these buttons weren’t as ordinary as they started out to be. Just like me—I was not as ordinary as I started out to be. The buttons, most of them, started out as a shiny but not very attractive gold. They were average among themselves. Then they were primed, turning every last one of them gray. I saw myself as the average teen, before the illness changed my life and I could no longer look at myself that way.
After the gray, each button is painted white, the color of a blank canvas. I became a blank canvas when all those life plans were erased by the sickness. I had to start afresh. I didn’t know that this was preparing me for something better. A plain, white button, with only an impression of its former self, is painted bit by bit in colors that make it uniquely beautiful. I’ve been painted white, and bit by bit God will make me beautiful.
I never thought I’d be grateful in my prayers for something as ordinary as buttons. But I suppose these buttons weren’t as ordinary as they started out to be.