Last month I wrote from the Oregon Coast. I shared about the funny sea lions and their antics and compared it to myself and my faith journey and I shared the painting of Jesus with his arms stretched wide. If you missed it you can read it here: Sealions Reaction to an Umbrella.
What I didn’t share was my struggles with vision this summer. As a visual artist, sight matters to me. I had three separate cysts on my right eyelid, so I have had to take the time to put warm compresses on my eye to aid the healing/draining of the cysts. Apparently, I am also starting to get a cataract in my right eye. This all causes a blurriness in my vision. I am right eye dominant, so it has also taken time to retrain my eyes to see left eye dominantly. Add to that the numerous trips to get the correct prescription for my glasses. This morning I see more clearly than I have in a while. The last lens for my glasses came in on Wednesday this week. I am thankful.
Not being able to see is discouraging, and disheartening. Not seeing well affects other things too – like balance. I had a biking accident and my left hip has not been the same since then. I have been sitting wrong in my computer chair because I have not been able to see the screen – which affects how my body feels at the end of the day, too. As I was finishing up the painting of Jesus (Painting: I am Loved) one morning, I stood and painted 5 hours straight without taking a break. (I was concentrating too much to notice.) I realized afterwards, as I could hardly walk, that I had hurt my left leg, again. My friend pointed out the irony of working on a painting to portray Jesus’ love for me, and hurting myself in the process. I have about 45 min of exercises to do from physio. This learning to take care of myself is time consuming. Yes, I want to feel better, but it doesn’t feel like I am accomplishing anything. I have had to tell myself that “no one is going to do this for me, I have to do it for myself.” I feel broken, like my body is failing to live up to my expectations and getting in the way of all I want to accomplish.
As all this has been going on this summer, I have been slowly reading through Ezekiel. I usually like the prophets, I can see God’s yearning heart for his people and my heart aches with his. I have not seen that as much in Ezekiel, but I am only up to chapter 14. Ezekiel takes place during the exile – but before the fall of Jerusalem. The judgment is upon them. It has stirred up all kinds of emotions in me. Ezekiel not only speaks prophesies from God, he lives the metaphors and prophesy. For example in chapter 4, Ezekiel lays on his left side for 390 days for the punishment of the house of Israel and then lays down on his right side bound for 40 days to represent the punishment of Judah. He acts out the metaphor of what God will do to the Israelites. I would not like to be Ezekiel. Did he really even have a choice? Can a prophet really not speak what God has given him to speak?
Then I thought of how I started about 6 or so years ago to work on a series: Waiting on the LORD. In the last 6 or so years I have had a number of things happen that have been teaching me what it means to really wait on the LORD. This summer was no exception. God has been using these metaphors in my life to show me about trust, letting go, riding the airwaves with Him, learning to rest in Him, I am valued because he loves me not for what I can accomplish. Do I object to Ezekiel, because I am seeing the parallels in my life? Have I had any choice but to go through this? I suppose the choice I have made is to seek God and what he is teaching me through it, growing my spirit. The alternative would be to shrink my spirit with complaining and poor attitude. Have I been living in metaphors, too? Is that the only way I would be able to understand what it means to really wait on the LORD?
So as I reflect on the summer, on my fears and frustrations with my eyesight and hip, can I learn to love the parts of me that have failed? Like the painting of transformation, I have thought I have to become something fresh and new and leave the failed parts, the garbage, the pain, and the dysfunctional parts of me behind. I have failed in my own eyes, when I cannot do what I think I should be able to, when my body feels like it is falling apart and preventing me from doing things, when I have made mistakes, or made people upset with me. Yet, God loves all of me, redeems my garbage. Can I love myself enough to take care of myself? Can I accept my failings and brokenness? I wanted to see if I could paint Jesus reaching out to embrace me, to love me. Can I truly accept his love and embrace, and love myself as he sees me?
(Painting: Redemption, Acrylic on Canvas Paper, 20in x 16in)