“Even in laughter the heart may ache…” Proverbs 14:13
How true that is. Aren’t we all fighting battles those around us know nothing about? I have been having such a great year, but in the middle of it all, my heart has suffered some tough blows, reminding me of its fragility. Those experiences and emotions inspired this self-portrait of my heart: broken and bruised, scarred and bloody from the effects of loss, hurt, disappointment, rejection and regret. On closer look though, you will see a presence of gold woven all throughout. It signifies…
God’s presence (in the pain)
His work (through the pain)
Value (after the pain)
I purposely painted the heart in a grayscale as I wanted the focus to be on the wounds and the glory (painted with metallic gold gouache). My heart is just the stage of all the activity. I have been mulling around the idea of this piece for the last few months. A few weeks ago, though, when a dream of mine died and felt like yet another blow to this heart, I decided to sit the painting I’ve been working on aside so that I could bring the vision for this one to life while I am experiencing fresh pain.
We all deal with pain and grief differently. Admittedly, I’ve wanted so badly to distract myself from the brokenness my heart feels and forget about the arrows, but awhile back I learned the importance of giving space to feel the pain so that I can work through it, heal, and move forward. In other words, if I don’t want to “stay” in it, then I have to go “through” it to get to the other side. If I don’t, I know one of two things will happen: They will remain open wounds that will only weaken, embitter and imprison me or my heart will become calloused. That callous will only grow though and affect places that I want to remain tender. For example, since I want to keep feeling the heights of joy, I have to let myself feel the depths of pain now.
It’s messy and uncomfortable work for sure, but this presence of gold that I see throughout my heart’s story is what keeps me grounded through present pain. I don’t understand why God allows certain things to come into my life, but I don’t have to. He owes me nothing. I trust Him because I know He is good, and He is faithful, and He sees what I cannot. As I continue working through and grieving the things my heart held close, I know I will begin to see more flex of gold because that is what fire does, it refines.
I think to some, the Christian faith can seem like rainbows and unicorns, like shiny gold wrapped around pain; but for me, Christ is my reality as much as the challenges and pain I face. There is gold throughout my life that doesn’t lie. It isn’t hype or denial or positivity. It is evidence that God is present and powerful in the adversities of life.
Goodness, where does God show up in the Bible and perform the supernatural? …in the furnace heated 7xs hotter & in the lion’s den, where the giant is & the barren, in the raging waters & the deep Red Sea, in the desert & the flood, in the brutality of slavery & war, in the prison cell & at the tomb, beside the sick & the physically challenged, among the sinners & the possessed, and to the brokenhearted. Well, technically there was a rainbow in there, but no unicorns! Just gold forged through fire.