Sunday, February 19, 2012

Six Years

Every child is an artist. 
The problem is how to remain an artist when we grow up. 
~ Pablo Picasso

Life happens right? And it's a grand scale that it happens on. It's scary. And hard. So hard. So hard that it can squeeze the life out of you for a while sometimes. 

Today, after six long years, I picked up my paintbrushes again. And the weird part is, it almost happened without my noticing that it had happened at all.

Almost six years ago I had my second baby. Right after that we moved across the state, from one "fixer-upper" into another "fixer-upper". Oh, and we didn't know a single soul in our new town. Shortly after we arrived I dropped into a very long, dark, and difficult battle with depression. I was rescued and released from that pit after about two years. Right after that, and by right I mean like within 2 months of starting to come up, our two year old was diagnosed with Leukemia. We spent 2-1/2 years fighting that beast. And now, it's been nearly a year since life went "back to normal". Needless to say, I am not the same woman I was six years ago.

I've thought about painting many times. I've been encouraged to do it repeatedly by my husband and a few others. I've even gone so far as to wonder if it was ever meant to happen again. Maybe my calling was elsewhere. Maybe I'd just "grown up" and my grown up life didn't include it. Maybe it wasn't really important.

At one time I defined part of my identity from being an artist. It was a way for me to show society that I had something to offer other than "just being a mom". Yuck. I hate typing that out. What a bunch of garbage that is. Shaping new humans for this world is perhaps the most important job there is. But what I was really exposing there, was a fear of man. Ouch. I worried more about what other people thought of me than of what God thought of me. Honestly, far too often I still do. By the grace of God I am overcoming it bit by bit. I believe God needed to show me that before he would let me use the gift he's given me.

This week I read an article titled 'The Holy Spirit and the Arts'. It's quite a thought provoking read if you have the time. It's been simmering in me all week. The biggest message it spoke to me was that God values art. God values artists. In fact, amazingly, the first person he ever sent the Holy Spirit to was an artist! Think about that for a moment... it wasn't a prophet or a priest or a king... it was an artist! That tells us how highly God values art.

I have devalued God's opinion of art. And on many levels I believe I have devalued the gifts God has given me as an artist. I have shelved that part of me as something I enjoyed, a purely selfish pursuit. I thought there were other ways that God was calling me to serve him that were more useful, practical. Ouch, that one stings a little. You see, I have a pattern of choosing the most "rational" choice over what I feel called to do. If I don't see a clear path, I go another way. Clearly I have not fully learned that lesson yet.

There are so many gifts that God gives each of us. There are so many things I enjoy doing and even excell at doing. The hard part is listening to his voice and following the way he is calling each of us to use our specific gifts. I still don't understand clearly how God is calling me to use this gift. But I have learned that he gave it to me, and I must use it. It's not my job to know how it will be used. But it is my responsibility to hone my skills, listen to his voice, and follow when he calls. 

So the brushes and paper are dusted off, the ever important metal straight edge has been found, and I even found my old sketch book buried under a pile of books. I don't know how it will fit into my crazy busy life. It seems impossible. I always thought I would have time to paint again when my kids went to school... then God called me to homeschool them! But I did manage to set up a little spot in a quiet corner of the house and hide myself away alone for a few hours today to work. And so, it is a new beginning...