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Purple Giraffes

Purple Giraffes
By Bridgett Lopata

I remember one day while in second or third grade art class, I decided to sketch a purple giraffe. The substitute teacher walked through the classroom and commented on everyone’s work. When she eventually made her way to me she asked,
            “What are you drawing?” It was fairly obvious to me, but I answered her anyway.     
            “A giraffe.” To which she replied, 
            “Giraffes are brown and tan—not purple.” 

That response instantly brought out the defiance in me, and I retorted,
            “Not all giraffes. This one is purple, and her name is Devon.”

Throughout our lives, we are taught that reality exists only in what we can see and touch. We are told to stay in the lines and color our work to match what is “real”. We are told that elephants cannot be blue—they must be grey; giraffes cannot be purple—they must be tan; oceans cannot be green—they must be blue. We were taught that grass had to be green—not orange; the sun had to be yellow—not pink: and water should always be blue—not gold.
But in leaning this, we forgot how to see with our hearts, and began to see only with our eyes. 

Learning to see with our hearts takes a substantial amount of faith. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Is it possible that we miss God working because we’re so preoccupied with what we can only see with our eyes?

Maybe we miss God working because we have been taught to ignore the invisible, the fantastic, and the imaginary. We have lost our sense of wonder and imagination. We got so used to coloring inside the lines (and with the correct colored crayons) that we forgot how to dream. We wait and watch for God to calm the sea, to collapse the walls, and to burn the bush, but because we often cannot physically see still waters, fallen walls, or burning bushes, we miss His mighty hand at work. We cannot see that He often does calm the sea, but it’s not just a sea of water but a sea of souls. He did in fact collapse the walls, but they were not of brick, they were walls of sin and hate. He did set a fire, but not just to a bush. He set a fire in the hearts of his people.

As author Hans Christian Anderson so brilliantly wrote, “This whole world is a series of miracles, but we are so used to seeing them that we call them ordinary things.”

Even the most ordinary things can speak if you know how to listen, but it’s not always in a voice that we’re expecting. It is not always something that you can see with your eyes. My fear is that there will come a time when we will become so trapped in the box of what we call reality that we will become unable to hear and see the “invisible” things of God and His glorious creation.
I want to watch green oceans, and listen to the whisper of pink and blue trees, and read about purple giraffes, because when God breaks the image of what I was expecting, I don’t want to miss it. 

There is so much more to this life than what we can see with our eyes. What if there are some things that exist that we cannot “see” until we close our eyes and allow Him to reveal Himself in a new way? Maybe all we need to do is close our eyes and trust the one who calms seas, collapses walls, and burns bushes in the ways we least expect.