I'm not who I was.
“Somebody please be my voice for me.” Such aptly crafted lyrics those are.
Music & art are a voice. They are gifts of intercession for the soul where standard expression is found lacking.
(For some excellent art, don’t miss out on what’s at the end).
As with conversation, what a person receives may or may not be the artist’s original intent. Yet it speaks out of the overflow of the heart. Art is vulnerable.
I find the process of producing and creating to be a liberating therapy… sometimes it draws out of me stuff of which I was previously unaware and brings me to a fuller understanding of myself. This process is intertwined with deep, otherwise inexpressible worship. I’ve always enjoyed art & music, but I’ve often been guilty of habitually muzzling myself. I’m not a phenom at either & I’ve sometimes feared criticism, misinterpretation, or simply unwelcome attention in the matter (even if it’s positive). In that process of discomfort, I’ve suppressed the fullness of worship through expression.
Typically, my painting is abstract. I don’t do “pretty” things, aside from the occasional craft. Almost always, when I sit down to paint I have no idea what I’m going to create ahead of time. I just go with it until the colors and strokes inspire in me or draw out of me. Sometimes the end result appears as a cohesive unit. More often it appears as canvas-confined chaos. Almost as quickly as I complete a work, it finds its end in the trash so as to ensure that nobody else ever sees it. I’m not going to say that’s all bad… sometimes it’s good to just get it out and move on. In other moments, such an approach hides my depth from even myself.
For awhile, I simply quit on art all together. I belittled my voice musically and got to the point where I often “didn’t know how” to be authentic with it. I packed up the paint entirely. I went through dry spells in which I didn’t journal even a single word and blogging served no other purpose than to be a virtual photo album. Doodling was practically all that remained of my artistic outlet, and even that was out of necessity. Let’s be honest: there are seasons in life in which a person is more apt to embrace the great tragedy of numbness in order to avoid feelings of discomfort, even if that means that the senses of wonder are deadened as well. Artistic expression results in emotion. One can’t dive into that and sustain numbness.
Lest you be concerned, I’ve since rediscovered my “how to” in musical worship. I’ve even found my happy place in painting. This time around I’ve felt convicted not to throw my art stories away… at least for the time being. That doesn’t mean that they will be shared publicly… it doesn’t mean they wont’ be either. For now their sustained existence is the primary step I’m taking to really meditate on the reflection it creates until I feel compelled to do otherwise. I have had such quality time with God in creating lately. I’ve decided that it’s not the result of the art so much as it is the process of creation. If the process results in speaking to others as well, then that’s a bonus. But it’s not the goal. For now, the goal is to know myself better.
It would be amiss of me to blog about worship through art without sharing any for you to partake in… although don’t expect any of it to be my own. Sometimes the therapy is found in the creating, sometimes in the partaking.
These amazing pieces were done by one of our students at church. The self-portrait was done last year when she was still in high school, ya’ll. Initially when I saw the self-portrait light study pop up on my screen, I thought it was a photo. She looks just like that. Such amazing talent. I can’t even wrap my mind around the detail.
Here is one of my favorite worship songs, presently.
For music that speaks to the soul & invokes worship, you should check out Matt Brock’s Album “From the Land of Shadows”. The previously quoted lyrics are from his song “Hole in My Heart”. Seriously… all of the songs are just chalk full of lyrical goodness. I could make a full blog post of quotable one-liners. His album available on itunes & amazon, etc.
How will you express your worship today? I challenge you to revisit an area that has been sleeping for awhile. Don’t fear the uncomfortable pin-prickly tingle or the awkward stumbling of reawakening.