With These We Shall Be Content

“There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world; but if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)

Vasily Raev, “Alipy of the Caves,” 1848
Vasily Raev, “Alipy of the Caves,” 1848 (photo: Public Domain)

The year 2020 brought shocking events that I never thought I’d see — political unrest, global pandemic, and my kids moving out of the house.

I made two surprising discoveries after my boys had vacated their bedrooms — one, that the rooms, having been stripped of posters and prints, had more wall space than I remembered; and two, that wall space was in dire need of a good coat of paint. The pressing question was, What color paint?

Now, let me say that I’m blessed to have friends with genuine decorating know-how. And let me also say that, yes, I probably should have consulted with those folks before starting on the Great Home Improvement Project of 2020. After all, they crave paint chips the way I crave chocolate chips, and what’s more, they know which of Sherwin-Williams’ 492 shades of green would best accent the rug. 

Instead, I chose to rely on my own decorating savvy, which is on par with that of a certain celebrity homemaker and TV personality whose initials are M.S. No, I don’t mean Martha Stewart. I mean Marge Simpson.

And that was a problem. Because for me, the wider the array of available paint colors, the greater the anxiety, the indecision, and the likelihood that I’d end up leaving the paint store with one headache and two gallons of Classic White.

But when characteristically meek women like me reach a certain age, they are liable to do uncharacteristically daring things like don wingsuits and leap off antenna towers. So, while I may not have been ready to do a base jump, my mid-life moxie assured me that I could do a base coat. I girded my loins and, with a battle cry of “DIY!” I charged into the paint store and seized the paint chips, ready and empowered to choose a paint color.

The first chip I looked at was labeled “Interactive Cream.” The color appealed to me, as it was similar to that of a White Russian — a lovely little drink composed of vodka, Kahlua and cream. I couldn’t help but wonder, though, why the standard designations of light, medium and dark weren’t good enough for labeling the small variances in the color “cream.” I mean, how many shades of cream could there possibly be? And what made that particular shade “interactive,” anyway? Maybe the more Kahlua and vodka you added to your cream, the more interactive you became with your paint. “Talking to the walls” could take on a whole new meaning.

Believe it or not, “Interactive Cream” wasn’t the oddest of the paint color names. That distinction went to “Dangerous Robot,” with “Nervy Hue” running a close second, and “Inner Child” taking honorable mention.

I’d hoped that my foray into interior decorating would be like stepping into the opening sequence from the old “Disney’s Wonderful World of Color” television show. (Sing it with me, boomers! “The world is a carousel of color, color, color ...”) Instead, it put me into a blue funk — pardon me, a “Briny” funk — from which no amount of “Humorous Green” or “Comical Coral” could pull me. 

In the end, however, my experience wasn’t as painful as it might have been. I finished my painting project, and I think it looks pretty good. I hope you’ll come and see it. Of the three bedrooms in my house, it will be easy enough to find the room that I painted. It’s the one in... Classic White.

There are no limits to the color palette of God’s creation, but I found that there were indeed limits to my own capacity for picking through paint chips in search of the perfect hue. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I believe that there’s value in keeping things simple. When it comes to interior design, others may follow the trends and tutorials, but I’ll stick to the basics. That’s where I’m sure to find my old favorites: a pleasing shade of sincere with highlights of homey, and an allover wash of serenity.

God of Creation, who set the rainbow in the clouds, as often as I look up to behold the canvas of the skies, help me to look inward and reflect on the beautiful brushstrokes of your presence within my soul. Amen.