The Darkness that Consumes (aka: reflections from 33January)

A week ago, I was hanging out with, what seemed like, several hundred other amazing individuals at the Old Orchard Gallery in Webster Groves, MO for the monthly 33 show put on by, 33January.  I’ve been multiple times, but this event was different.  It was special because for the first time, I was one of the 33 artists showing work in the gallery.  In fact, this was the first time since my Senior Show when I graduated from Anderson University that I have shown any work publicly.

Photo by Jenn Sarti Photography
Photo by Jenn Sarti Photography

It was an amazing night filled with conversations, laughter, and many friendships.  I was even blessed by the presence of several individuals that I serve with in the ERT who dropped by throughout the night.

I enjoyed the night, watching people in the room respond to the art around them.  Many pieces were extremely beautiful!  Oh, there were some amazing pieces that surrounded us.  If I had the money, I would have bought several.

What made me smile was watching people come across my art.  It was around a corner, so you couldn’t see it unless you came around the wall.  Most people were moving semi-clockwise around the room, and the two artists before my work had some amazing photography.  There were quite a few people who noticed my paintings and quickly took a step back.

17 Beneath the Mask

You can tell by people’s initial reaction that my paintings were not what was expected.  I never meant them to be.

You see, my art is a reflection of myself.  An avenue of expression that reveals the truth beneath the surface.  Two of my paintings were self portraits that expressed the struggle with the darkness that we keep hidden from the world.  My darkness is expressed through my art, an avenue of healthy release for the stress, frustrations, and fears that I keep hidden away from the world.

19 The Darkness Within

I stood by my work for part of the night and had a beautiful conversation with an older gentleman about how once that darkness we keep within ourselves is set free, there is no way to hide it once again.  He told me how his darkness came out in the war and that almost cost him his marriage.  He smiled as he sighed, stating “But if felt so good.”  He walked off, hand in hand with his wife.

His words are true.  The darkness that we keep within ourselves has the potential to ruin us, to kill us, and leave us broken.  But when we release it, it feels so good.  It feels good to get it out into the open.  To set it free.  To no longer have it hidden within us.

Our Holy Mother

It was a great night in the gallery, but there is a single moment that made it so awesome:  As I walked in, I overheard a mother ask her young daughter (probably around 7 years of age), “What piece is your favorite?”  For the next several minutes the little girl circled around the gallery.  She stopped in front of my paintings, pointing up at Our Holy Mother, and stated matter of factly, “This one.”

The look of shock on the mothers face was priceless!

Out of all the art in the gallery (somewhere around 80-90 pieces), she chose one of my paintings.  That was the best compliment I received the entire night.


Why You Should (Not) Pray For Patience

I have decided that, sometimes (in special cases), I am an idiot.  I’m not talking about doing stupid things.  I’ve done plenty of that.  But I’m talking about those times when I continually decide to do the same thing, hoping that the results are different.  I guess that’s the definition of insanity, isn’t it?

The case I am talking about is praying for patience.  Really, who even does this?

We all know that when you pray for patience, God doesn’t just change who you are and suddenly you are a more patient person.  He wraps this virtue up in struggles, be it difficult situations, people, or just really long lines.  Sometimes, He just tells us to wait.  And waiting is a crime in our “Go! Go! Go!” society.

I’m an idiot because I keep on praying for patience, even though I know God wont just hand it to me.  I keep asking people to pray for me, to ask God to provide me with the patience to see this journey through (I guess in the hopes that if God doesn’t hear it directly from me, He wont test me as hard?).

I think everyone should pray for patience, at some point or another.  But specifically if you know that a situation is almost upon you in which you know you will need help getting through it.  Maybe it’s waiting to hear back from a long-lost friend.  Or bickering at the office.  Or the words and actions of another.  Or maybe it’s just that you want something so bad and you feel that you deserve it now, in this instant.  The following is why I believe everyone should pray for patience:

Patience is something we all need to work on.  Admit it.  We know it, but we just want to avoid it.  I think this is the main reason I keep on turning to God to ask for it.  Oh, I have a lot more patience than I used to, but there are still issues and people who just irritate the [edit] out of me.  Once we know and admit what we need to work on, then we can move to fix it.

Those situations (events, people, etc.) that stress you out are not going to magically disappear.  You can try to avoid them like the plague (I know there are some that I do), but they will never truly go away.  Yes, events will come to pass and people will die, but there will always be another.  The longer you avoid confronting it, the worse it will get.  By learning patience and confronting these situations, they will no longer stress you out.

And on that note:  The less stressed you are, the healthier you will be.  I’m sure it’s a scientific fact, proven through stressing a person out beyond belief and watching their health fail time and time again.  Oh, wait.  Yeah.  About that…

In confronting the situations that God places in front of you, you will learn what you truly need to pray for.  I pray for patience.  But I also pray for the situation that causes the anxiety.  I pray for strength and guidance.  For the right words and/or actions to be revealed.  I pray constantly that I see the needs and have the clarity of mind to assist.

If I am not patient with people, I am not listening to them.  If I am thinking of “Now! Now! Now!”, I am missing everything that goes on around me.

And when we wait, we learn the true lesson that God is trying to teach us.  There have been times when I have so desperately wanted something and not received it, only to take a step back and realize how lucky I was not to have it in my grasp.  In the moment, this is one of the most frustrating situations, but you quickly get to put everything into perspective.

But be warned:  Even if you don’t pray for patience, the event is still likely to happen.  You can try to avoid it (and take all the stress that comes with that) or you can prepare your heart and mind in every way possible (through prayer and confronting the hazards before us) so that the stress of living does not threaten to overwhelm you.

Even after writing it all out, I still feel like an idiot at times.  I guess that is just the price I pay for living the adventure set before me!

God Bless and PEACE

Continuing the Journey

I’ll keep this relatively short, though I don’t know how well that will work.

This is a beginning of a new year.  The old is behind us, and before us is all unknown.  We take this time to plan for our future, to set goals and destinations, so I am going to take the time to share mine:

First: I want to finish Journeys, the adventures of a Nomad.  As many of you know, this is the auto-biography that I am working on to share my stories and adventures with the world.  It’s difficult to find the words required to describe everything that I have seen, all that I have done.  There are things in it that I don’t know if I have ever shared through the written words on paper, so it’s just a little nerve wracking.  That being said, I have one more chapter to type up before I send it off to a good friend for the first round of editing.  Unfortunately, this is the most difficult chapter to write about, so it is taking longer than expected.

Second:  I want to learn to live in the present moment.  I don’t want to be consumed by the things that I could have done in the past, nor do I wish to live worrying about what the future will bring.  Yes, it is important to make plans, but I want to learn to trust God with everything.  Every time I make plans, I know that He shakes His head and laughs a little.  I know that He is trying to teach us now, in this moment, so this is where I need to focus.

Third:  I want to live without regrets.  To live dangerously.  I don’t want to look back and question “what if” anymore.  I want to take accountability for what I do, and live knowing that I did my best in everything that I do.

Finally: I want to be happy.  I want my life to radiate with joy.  I don’t want disappointments and setbacks to define how I live anymore.  I want to be constantly reminded of God’s grace in my life.  I want to live knowing the He loves me, that His love sustains me, guides me, and fills my cup till it overflows and pours out through my thoughts, words, and actions.

These are my New Year Resolutions.