Good Lord. That's how I feel about writing about my faith.
I just spilled hot tea all over my bed. I had balanced a hardcover book between a pillow and a pile of blankets; precariously set the tea on top of it and it survived an hour an a half before I deemed everything that I was writing as stupid and accidentally moved the blankets.
I'm not sure how many times that I have quit trying to write about my faith-- both as I was finishing up this site and at other times in my life. Mostly, I convince myself that it's unnecessary, that I'm making it too hard, and throw it in a folder. Recently, I realized it's simply what I do. I wrestle with my faith and I paint and I write through it.
I feel equally passionate and vulnerable about art and Jesus Christ. I manage to wad both up like thin gold necklaces and then work to untangle them. The time that I spend with either normally does one to three things for me: it quiets me; distracts me; or shows me something new so I keep doing it even when I don't feel instant gratification.
Sometime late last summer --maybe close to my birthday?, I drove out to the woods by myself because everything and everyone (including Jesus) felt closed off and I felt insane. It had been months since I had slept well; since I had dreamed consistently. The unrest drove me crazy. I drove all around the outskirts of Indianapolis one Sunday afternoon looking for a quiet field, a lake, trees --anyplace where I might be able to scream and not freak anyone out and found none.
The next Sunday, I was at the point where I just didn't care and stopped the car next to a woods outside of a Northern Indy suburb. All the boldness that I had initially felt left as soon as I got out of the car. I felt like I might be on private property, like I might be abducted, like my car might be hit or stolen, like I might I have gotten poison ivy climbing down to the creek. I was completely distracted. I was begging for something to break-- my voice or to see something or hear something, but despite a little bit of wind, the only thing that I felt was humidity and heat and I left.
That night, I happened to sleep well and dreamt that I was on a friend's shoulders. He was close to 8' tall in my dream. I told him, "No wonder you are so relaxed. You can see things from a completely different perspective up here." I realized that I was being asked, "Are you viewing things through a lens of hope?"
Then, not too long ago, I dreamed that a group came into evaluate a team. One of the guys took a girl named Hope to the ridge of the rooftop for dinner where it was quiet. The sky was a muted blue; the moon was full and looked close. He kept on bringing her to the edge of the roof which was extremely high to show her something new. This scared her, so he brought her down somewhat annoyed and told others she was a boring date.
I indeed feel like a boring date for hope. I love epic story lines; I love hearing people's stories; I love encouraging people to try new things. I don't think of myself as someone who always plays it safe, as someone who quits easily at things where I feel passionate, or as someone who is pessimistic but I'm realizing that I put up some large walls at times when it comes to trust.
There's something about the first chapter of Genesis where I can't always find a grip. "Then God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.'" Genesis 1:8 (I collaged through this verse in my journal). I imagine heaven - the firmament - like an inflatable couch, a cushion or floatation device that is able to stay between. I want to arrange creation, heaven into little comfortable spaces like I used to arrange the inflatable furniture inside my friend's Barbie dollhouse but heaven is described as the "city of the living God" Hebrews 12:22-23.
There's freedom -- no end to it. That's what's uncomfortable. It's not a flat plane. So then I go back to writing and spilling tea on my bed and collaging with tidbits that I want to remember or look at more closely. The rainbows that I painted into several of my recent collages (--though I don't know that I was fully conscious of it when I was painting--) remind me of my first experiences with Jesus.
At age four, Jesus was very real to me. Whenever I was scared at night, I would go to bed repeating, "I love you, Jesus," to myself until I could see a rainbow. I'd climb it until I could fall asleep. Around the same age, I vividly remember running in the middle of the night by myself from our home to the Methodist Church that our family attended. I'm not sure if I had a dream to go there or if I was 'sleep walking' in some form, but I was looking for my dad. I ran across the field, looked in a window for him, and ran back home where my mom met me at the door in her nightgown and hugged me.
These stories make me feel weird. I don't think think that I've ever told my family about the rainbows. My parents don't fully remember me running in the middle of the night, but it haunts me because I can't remember leaving the house. I only remember running through the field and hurriedly touching the church. However, it's been the church where I have found breathing room to seek God and it was in that building where I got closer spiritually to my father in my late 20s, so whether or not I was being shown at a young age to look for my father there... I don't know?
I don't have any of it figured out and I don't ever want to ever come across as if I do. One of my biggest fears is somehow making dreams (both those that I dream in the night and hopes for the future) bigger than they should be. However, as a whole, I believe in a God that speaks. I believe in the Holy Spirit. I believe in His son, Jesus. I get more and more perplexed by His power and the health that is offered to us. It blows my mind to the point that I can't accept any of it at times.
Then I'm brought back to the fact that I'm in a home that someone was able to figure out how to build, in skin that you can tug, scratch and that covers veins that look like the roots of tree branches, and I can see with eyes that also have rings like the growth rings of trees. This also blows my mind. Touching someone and them being healed never used to seem like an option but when I see lightning and I can see veins there as well and I read all of the promises made to us through Jesus' resurrection, I don't see much purpose in not asking for power from the Holy Spirit to bring life to others as well.
I also sometimes ask Jesus specific things before I go to sleep-- all day for that matter. Sometimes I feel like I'm answered; often not. I joke that my relationship with Jesus continues to be several conversations in the car. I accepted Christ by myself when I was 26 as I was driving to NYC. I often pray and talk to God when I'm driving alone. Sometimes, I'm not confidant enough to speak aloud or I question if I'm even being heard. I feel like I'm speaking in a vacuum or that I'm so small in a world that is so big under heavens that are even larger that I just shut up.
It's a ballgame... learning to believe that help is available; that I have a choice to stick my hands in muddy puddles where I see the faintest reflections of something beyond. Often, I feel like I swing and I miss, but I at least want to step up to the plate.
For me, that means, sometimes literally begging for a pitch-- for help for myself or another or for some reminder of His presence. It means learning to take risks, getting over myself and learning that when I say, 'Good Lord,' even in exasperation and even when I'm or others are hurting, that it's truth. God is good.