I caught God in the basement messing around in my modest assortment of half-full cans of paint. Or at least I thought it was God. It was dark, but there was an eerie glow emanating from the far corner that both attracted and frightened me. That’s God in a nutshell.
“What do you think of my paint collection?” I asked hesitantly.
“I like it,” came the cheery response. “Color. Texture. Latex. Stains. Oil-based stuff. You’ve got it all, more or less.”
God’s approval is a boon anytime, but admiration for my near-hoarding of old paint—now that was spectacular. I was ecstatic.
“Some of it’s dried up, some’s moldy,” God added. God has X-ray vision, so I knew this was true. “And you have at least four cans of that ugly, dull orange. Looks like you tried mixing bad stuff. Never works.”
My ecstasy was waning as God’s appreciation became more selective.
“Yeah,” I said. “I was trying to get a mellow, warm orange.”
God laughed, stepped out of the shadows, and slapped me on the back.
“I like how hard you try,” God said. “But mellow orange will not happen anywhere near sage green. You know giving up can be as holy as stubbornly plowing forward, right?”
“Well.” I said. “Same to you. I’ve met some people who are way uglier than that paint. At least I can use the paint in the chicken house. What’re you going to do with those disgusting lumps of humanity? I’ve been trying to love them, somehow, a miniscule little bit, but the best I can do is pretend. They’re destructive, lazy, lying, self-righteous jerks. A serious waste of protoplasm. And because you already know this, I’ll just say it. I hate them.”
“Yup. I knew that,” God said. “Why are you trying to love them?”
I did a double-take. “Because, well. I guess because I think you want me to.”
God gave me a quizzical look, then began to fade artfully away, wavering like fumes above the seven cans of turpentine. With a soft kiss on the top of my head, God repeated “I like how hard you try.”
I felt deflated. Thwarted. I sat down on a five-gallon bucket of neutral gray to consider my next move. I didn’t want a passing grade in effort. I wanted excellent marks. Perfect 10s, 5 stars.
“You’ll take some failures with you to the grave,” God said. “I’ll meet you there.”