It's been a while since I've had time to write a fleshed-out post here, but it feels good to settle down and pen some thoughts again after lots of traveling and recent life changes (the biggest of which being leaving my much-loved job because of the busy-ness and demands of my art business. One of those 'so good and so bittersweet and weird' kind of things indeed).
But I am always writing, traveling with a journal in my bag all the time (on trips to the grocery store and trips across the country), expecting that at some point, I'll make some observation of the universe worthy of writing down to expound on later. That's a lot of where my writing on here comes from: raw observations about life. It's where art comes from too.
And as my inner life, my spiritual life, expands, the observations of 'what's really going on,' it seems, get more abundant. Writing and art are the fruit of realizing life's more abstract little expressions: things that happen on a level beyond the senses of sight or mind, things that are part of a larger story.
The meditation of my heart on God over the past two years has been an amazing part of the change and creativity of my life's narrative: I've had people tell me it's unusual to encounter a 'young person' choosing to seek the Lord in this day and age, choosing to find in God the best life, happiness, wholeness, wellness and such that is readily offered by more modern wisdom - and I've had others tell me it will be the wisest choice I ever make.
Nothing has opened my life up and actually changed it from the inside out like faith- which I never could foresee happening to me. The faith I used to make fun of people for having has had entirely nothing in common with the experience I am actually having as a believer, and it can't be anything but part of my life's story to share that pretty openly. It informs all of who I am, all the things I think, do, and say; every choice; not my religion at all, but my worldview: my fundamental picture of who I am, and what I am worth.
This, it turns out, is enough to know to navigate through the world with confidence, abundance, gratitude, and grace.
I'm starting to realize that before we can actualize anything worth having or keeping in our lives, we need to understand how little we really understand about how we work, how our hearts are wired. I never wanted to really look at that (hearts are messy...), and usually when we don't want to look at something that seems unfamiliar, unknown, or un-navigable, we say things about it like, 'it's just not true,' or, 'it's just not important,' or, 'there are other things to consider or ways of doing it,' or, 'whatever.'
Except now I think it's inauthentic to live our lives believing that our hearts are just whatever. The mind is something that can know something about itself, yes- but the heart is something that longs to be known about.
A creative life- which is to say, a brave one, an alive one, a productive one, a forward-moving, adventurous, inspired one- is one which detects life beyond knowledge and what is "known." Unless we are willing to explore what we don't know with humility, we can't be truthful and we can't be free. Belief, I didn't realize, is about freedom.
There must be a firm establishment in love- in our hearts being known by God- in order for life to work in a free way. No greater bravery exists than a person exhibiting openness and authenticity- taking off all masks, being in actions who they say they are - and learning to do it again and again because we are human and we fail at this constantly. Our identities split easily in words and actions: to this person we say that, want to appear this way; to another we say this, want to appear that way.
We are free to stop appearing as anything- to stop managing ourselves- when we develop a character, not just a charming personality. A charming personality does not help us- nor does it say anything about who we are- in the dark.
But a character is a consistently reliable thing, and when we get our character from a consistently and eternally reliable source- not just from the wisdom of the day, or from what appeals to us- our character becomes strong, we become more able, and our lives become more creative, more free. I didn't realize this about God either, but He has a distinct and knowable character that, as a Christian, I always want to learn more about, so that it can also inform my own.
This is not only His call to us, but a logical principle for self-actualizing: if all I ever seek is happiness, I'll never find it because it's not a thing, it's the result of other things. But if I seek God, I get what is ultimate. Happiness is included: it is contained within the source. When we seek to know Jesus, that's what we seek too: the source. If I ultimately follow earthly masters- people, teachers, other carries of wisdom- the wisdom eventually runs dry because it isn't eternal, it's not part of a larger narrative.
The narrative of my own life was something I made up from the events that had happened to me, from my own perception- and thinking from this point (it now seems obvious) has nothing to do with truth, only my own experiences and perceptions. When started to explore Christianity, I started to realize something slowly: that this thing, this story, this event; this God we serve, this Son He gives us- there's something there that rings within us with an uncanny feeling of truth that we don't see is missing until we find it. There's a wholeness about it, we realize, because there's a fundamental emptiness in us.
As we start to know the Lord, the gap starts to close. The healing we didn't realize we even needed, really, begins. Broken things start fixing in our hearts.
This story- this life- is about something bigger than me. It was prideful before to believe that I was in charge of the whole thing- a realization that has forced me into the reality of God and not just the nice, vague metaphor of him-or-maybe-not-him. The story I thought I was so right about (how I was, who I was, what I knew, what I could figure out) was wrong- or maybe not 'wrong,' but not as purely truth-full as it could have been.
There is no neutral reaction to the deep belief that God (who stands independent of our very limited notions of time) has purposefully and lovingly created all of us exactly for this time and exactly as we are and should be: our every weakness for a purpose; our every strength for a purpose, our every like and dislike. Whereas it once totally disenchanted me to hear that there was a God 'watching all I did,' it now totally delights me, and for this reason: I am known.
I count. And not in the eyes of people. Self-worth has nothing to do with other people, nor does it have to do with the rejection or defense of their opinions for or against you, should they have any. You, defined as God defines you and called as God calls you, is determined, set, and unwavering in value. Your worth in God is eternally set; your worth based on anything else outside of God- feelings, moods, accomplishments, thinking, approval, money, praise- will eventually self-destruct.
It wasn't until later that I realized that an identity in God means a kind of fearlessness about life that nothing else can really bring: we look for ways to try to be fearless or act fearless or think fearlessly, but I think the best way to be, in character, unafraid is to know what we're here for and Who we are here to serve.
We are human: of course, we may still be terrified- but we do not have to be anxious about our fear, and that makes a difference in how we are willing to live. Of course, we may still be scared of unknowns- but we do not have to be paralyzed into inaction and justification of never changing.
Of course, our lives are 'our' stories to create and live and write, but to know that they belong to a larger story- one which includes God's intention for us to be free, as our souls have been paid for by the debt of Christ- means that of all the places we could hang our hope and identity, we hang them on eternity. There, they can't be touched, and they can't be bought at a human price. There, we know what our souls are worth, and what they can do, and what great purposes they can achieve, regardless of circumstance.
We can tune in and listen to His voice speaking love to us in the truth: trust me, I am the Artist.