I have found a certain freedom in painting, a sense of being wholly me. Have you ever experienced this? In my 47 years, I’m not sure I have. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy life tremendously and have (sadly) expressed myself without abandon for years (see my blog on Expression)! But I wouldn’t necessarily say there was freedom in that expression, only self-absorbed narcissism.
The freedom I'm talking about is like when the characters on the bow of the Titanic spread their arms wide, screaming WOOOO HOOOO in exhilaration; a freedom you don’t typically get in day-to-day living. Lately, when I paint, I have that same wild sense of abandon! I am filled with joie de vive, a contentment. I cannot contain the satisfaction I feel, nor do I want to. I am able to paint without restraint or fear, without judgment or restriction. Yet, while I am filled with gratification for this experience, it begs the question: Why doesn't this sense of the freedom I get as an artist transfer to my day-to-day living?
An artist has to develop a resistance to fear and criticism, and cultivate the spirit of humility and joy reflected in Philippians above. No matter how hard I try, I cannot achieve these things on my own…and trust me, I’ve tried a lot! Here’s the struggle: If God calls you to something – no matter how mundane – at what point do you take your hands off the wheel and let Him take control (thank you, Carrie Underwood, for that perfect word picture!)? This has been my obstacle since day one! Do you want to hear my theory? Selfish, foolish pride. Ugh! I know you’ve heard me discuss this before, but clearly I have a problem with thinking my way is best; hence, here I am being reminded that this is a lesson I have yet to act on. The solution is right in front of me. I have to let go and let God by bringing the exhilaration He has blessed me with as an artist into the rest of my day-to-day life – all as one – and rejoice in the satisfaction and contentment that results.
Contentment is a state of mind. It is achieved when we have a genuinely grateful heart, despite our circumstances. From that contentment comes joy that can only be described as Spirit-filled. I’m not talking about happiness – that is fleeting and based on feelings. No, I’m talking about a peace that surpasses understanding and a joy that transcends obstacles in your life, one that comes from a spring way down in your soul. When I am painting, and being content to create whatever the Spirit leads me to create, that is the place I achieve that soul-drenched peace. The odd thing about writing that statement, is I also know that I am called to be a wife and mom, as well, and sometimes I don’t feel that contentment or peace in those roles…perhaps it’s because of the monotony of cooking and cleaning or that it can be a thankless grind filled with discouraging conversations or choices made. Yet we are still called to experience joy, all the time. We cannot do this without our hearts focused on God, and without being thankful in every situation (“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
This continues to be a struggle for me, especially when I have my eyes focused on my stuff and me. It takes a discipline I don’t always exercise to keep my eye fixed on the Author and Perfector of my faith…but when I do, oh that peace and contentment are amazing! I am filled with a grace and love for my family and others that defies logic and a joy even in the mundane that puts a smile on my face (okay, probably not while I’m cleaning the toilets, let’s be real here, but you get the idea).
You and I, we are in a battle, the kind that if we allow it, will darken our very soul! The trick is we must allow God to fight the battle, which requires us to step off the battlefield, hold captive our thoughts, and in humility, trust Him.
Do you trust Him? Really trust in a God you cannot see? What about in the daily stuff of life? I can sincerely say that I do. But like my paintings, and even my relationships, I can often get in my own way, overthink a situation, try and steer the ship of contentment, and push God out of my way. I want to stop this destructive pattern. How about you? Do you get in God’s way? If so, let me know your struggles and let’s pray for one another to gain a deeper trust and understanding of who God is, and His plan for our lives so we can fully experience satisfaction. We can’t do this journey alone. God intended us to do it together. “As iron sharpens iron…” let’s be willing to get real with God and each other with our struggles. I look forward to navigating this journey together.
Seeking beauty in the everyday stuff of life with you,
“Seeking the Light” 36” x 36” x 1.5” acrylic on canvas. This piece was inspired from a morning walk in my neighborhood. The sun was just coming up, and these vibrant little pink cacti flowers seemed to be reaching from their spot to absorb that life-giving light of the sun. Sort of like what I feel like I’m struggling to do. This is the first painting I’ve also added companion pieces too. Please check out the website for a view of my Seeking the Light series. Thanks!