Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Love Journey Continues

On January 7, I went to Adore Him Creations studio to create a picture of my OLW: Love. Diane is a phenominal artist from my small group. I'm not the artistic type in the slightest. She's helped other artistically-challenged folks, so I thought I'd give it a go.

I was immediately faced with so many decisions that my head was spinning. What size board? What colors? What font for the letters? I wasn't prepared and I was making decisions on the fly - not a good start. From seeing her work, I knew that I wanted to use old hymns as the background. Two oldie, but goodie hymns came to mind: "My Jesus, I Love Thee" and "And Can It Be". The second one threw everyone for a loop because the chorus is "Amazing love, how can it be, that thou my God shouldst die for me." The title isn't Amazing Love as one would think. Instead, it's the first line of the verse. Diane immediately suggested Chris Tomlin's "Amazing Love", but that wasn't what I wanted at all. Yes, it's a lovely song, but I wanted the hymns! Thankfully we had the internet to help us find the real title and then some good ol' Baptist hymnals to copy.

My first task was to tear the copied hymn pages up. You read that right - tear as in shred them. I did it neatly as possible so I wouldn't tear off any important words. She comes over and says that I'm not doing it right. "Just tear it!" I laughed and explained that she was asking a perfectionist to tear up a piece of paper that is going on her artwork. It wasn't that easy for me. She explained that she struggled with that too, but there is something freeing about shredding pages that were meant to be nice and neat. The messier, the better. I relinquished. Slightly.

Not knowing what I was doing and seeing some of her other art really was an injustice. I thought that there would be layer upon layer of paint over my hymns to add depth and let the songs peek through, but I missed the step where the paint I was using was going to be the only thing I used to cover the whole background. Yes, I painted a little, but no where near the amount needed.

The letters were an adventure, indeed. Each letter is uniquely shaped and painted. Diane has tons of stamps, stickers, ribbons, flowers, butterflies, buttons, coins, mirrors, etc. to put on the art. I didn't know what options I had and seeing her other artwork, I wanted one of everything! It looked chaotic while laying it out on the table, but I knew that her art was busy, but brilliant. I was sure that was how mine would end up.

I painted each letter various solid colors and then Diane guided me with stamping them. She did some other technique that makes the paint raised and shiny after heat is applied through a hair dryer. Cool stuff!

Then came the crazy part - adding all the little fru-fru stuff. Remember how I wanted to add everything? I did. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. The end result? Organized chaos. We glued a butterfly to show that I'm transforming into a loving person. We glued a heart on a fuzzy string to signify - a heart. We glued a flower to imply - a flower. We glued a key because we needed something to hang a tag that says "journey" and also - our jouney is the key. We glued sparkles on the "L" because I'm supposed to shine.

To wrap it all up, there were words I wanted to stamp on it, but I didn't want to over-do it. Too late. The ladies kept asking me what aspect of "Love" I wanted to focus on this year. I want to consistently show to love to others, regardless of my mood. I want to be so full of God's love that it overflows to everyone I meet. So the words I chose were family, friends, grace, blessings,and forever. We found a spot and sure enough, the words got stamped. They are extremely faded (on purpose), but they are filling the seemingly blank space in the middle at the top.

What happened next still haunts me.

Since the piece is 3-D, I laid it on the front seat of my car for the drive home. I made sure not to make any sudden stops for fear I'd knock it off the front seat. As I drove, I got more and more upset. I couldn't look over at it. I was thinking of how I should have put more paint on the background. I shouldn't have added so many pages of hymns. I should have added something in the middle. I shouldn't have stamped so much. I should have just gone simple and stopped about 30 minutes earlier (to avoid the clutter). I wish, I wish, I wish...

When I arrived at home, I carefully carried it so I wouldn't have to look at it. I put it behind some things so it would be protected from my curious cats. Then I started crying. I literally fell to my knees and I confessed to God what I had been doing. I was tearing apart the picture and criticizing it so there would be nothing left for other people to say. I acknowledged that I didn't accept myself for the way I am, faults and all. I already knew I was a perfectionist, but the end result was that I didn't love myself.

It was heartbreaking to hear the words come out of my mouth without intentionally saying them. It was as if I was hearing another person speak. Yet, I felt liberated at the same time. I've heard the first step to overcoming an obstacle is admitting you have a problem. That's a big problem to own up to. My world wasn't auto-corrected in that instant. Rather, I was filled with the peace of knowing that I conceded to something that God has prepared me to face. I immediately asked Him to show me how to love myself.

Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and greatest commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

I know this part of the journey has just begun, but already He is helping me give myself mercy and grace. I'm forgiving myself more than I used to. I'm making my needs and wants a priority. I don't mean in a selfish way, I mean that I am learning that it's OK to just say "no". Much like in my last post when I learned that I get to pick and choose who I date. I don't need to go out with the first guy who shows interest in me if he isn't the person God laid on my heart to date.

I'm posting this a little late (this story was from January 7), but the first week of 2012 was so impressive that I had to share! I can't wait to see what the other 51 weeks teach me!

I have continually asked God to show me how to love myself. He laid it on my heart to put the picture in a prominent place to where I have to see it every day. This week (February 9th), my brother came over to hang shelves above my TV. I bought them several weeks ago, but in my perfectionism, I didn't want to screw holes into the walls without supervision. He hung them right where I wanted them, but as soon as I put the picture on the shelf I realized the shelves are too high. That's OK. I'm learning to love myself, high shelves and all!

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