by Cheryl White
Acrylic on Canvas 24" x 36"
A friend of mine really loves Matisse...Our appreciation of art is just one of many things she and I have in common... but in my heart, I call her my "Matisse" friend because we went to see the Matisse exhibit together at the Dallas Museum of Art when it came in town.
This is a study I did of one of his paintings. The particular painting by Matisse is called, "Odalisque with Yellow Persian Robe and Anemones" and is exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art .
My version of it (left) is called "After Matisse " and is "exhibited" at my "Matisse friend's " house. I gave it to her as a gift and every time I look at this picture of it, I am reminded of a moment when God's grace and forgiveness triumphed in our relationship.
Many months after our museum day, in a moment of weakness, she betrayed me. It's not important what she did really . . . just that my trust had been broken and what happened between us hurt me very deeply in a very public way. She was sincerely repentant when she realized what she had done, and wrote me the most beautiful letter of apology. But at this point, the damage was done, and there was nothing either of us could do about it. I, however, had a choice... I could forgive or not forgive, it was up to me. I had been wronged publicly and I alone had the job of deciding whether or not to extend forgiveness.
Forgiving wouldn't make what she did less wrong. Not forgiving would not have made me more right. So why bother? Why not just write her off as a lost friend and move on? I was entitled to be bitter and angry after all that had happened right? But, I did choose to forgive. It was so humbling and hard, but when I did so, we shared a wonderful moment of reconciliation. We hugged each other and we were both crying happy tears... We were friends again. I know that it was not me who forgave her, it was God through me. He alone enabled me to forgive graciously and freely without condition or requirement. This is what GRACE is. It is the same kind of forgiveness God extends to us.
I didn't forgive because my friend was really sorry or sincere. I didn't forgive because she is an excellent writer and her letter was so beautiful. I didn't forgive because she liked my painting or we had things in common or even because she deserved it. None of those reasons mattered. The reason I forgave, is because Christ chose to die on the cross to pay for my sins and HE forgave ME of so much more. Because I had accepted His unconditional love and forgiveness when I didn't deserve it, I was able to extend it to someone else when they did not deserve it. It was such an honor and a privilege to be able to do that. So . . . when I look at this painting, I remember the joy of our reconciliation day and I am grateful for "my Matisse friend."