It's the end of January when I read the words of a friend and they wash right over this wounded and weary soul like a balm. She pens Hope into a three-part harmony, points us straight to the God Who's always the same, the God Who's always with us, the God Who's always I AM.
And who doesn't need to hear that sung out strong and sure when the years have brought so much change and loss and the rearrangement of a whole life?
Maybe it's the closing lines of that first piece that lodge the deepest, leave me standing still and silent while all the world rushes past.
Because I'm the woman who battles chronic illness day in and day out, the woman whose weakness is the only thing that never changes at all. And aren't I always weighed down by this one fear--that everyone who sees my weakness will name me Worthless?...only weakness draws all eyes
to Your radiant strength...
Or maybe the real truth is this--that I've seen my own weakness and I've already named myself Worthless?
I've wrestled for long years with an illness that ravages and a weakness that finds me grasping about for something, anything at all to give back to the world, some way to leave His mark on a life. And I've come far and I've grown much, but there are still these days when I can't understand how this life of mine can be worth anything at all.
So when I see those words etched in black and white, I'm brought to my knees and I feel it deep that I've got to stop believing the lies. I've got to stop calling out the names I can't take back--even on those days when it really does feel as if there's nothing left to give.
Because maybe this is the real truth worth knowing--that everything we aren't, it points all eyes to the God Who Is. Maybe weakness doesn't leave us empty and worthless at all. Maybe it just leaves us open, these glass vases full of scars and broken places. And when He pours His Love and Light right into us, He flows on through and waters the world with Himself.
But this truth, it isn't easy to live when the days press in hard, and I know I've got to choose it with my whole being, hammer it in with every bit of strength I've got left.
So I ask it quiet, unsure--maybe I can take these words of a friend and build them into something I can't forget? She answers with a resounding Yes and I might be a little excited to begin but I wonder, too, what I've really gotten myself into.
Because this is the story of the God Who was and is and always will be. This is the story of the wounding and the healing, the heartache and the hope. And I struggle for months to find a way to tell this story that's bigger than all of us.
But it comes out of nowhere on a Saturday morning and maybe I don't know how the idea's born but I do know Who. And what's scribbled down on a half-sheet of paper in the beginning of April, it becomes something wholly other by the end of May. It becomes 24 square feet of canvas covered in paint and tears and pieces of a life.
It becomes this one woman's choice to believe what seems impossible Truth--that I am His and I am Loved and there's no weakness that can ever take away the worth of who He's made me to be.
Later this week (hopefully), I'll be posting more pictures of this enormous project and writing the story of the long labor from which it was born. Many, many thanks to my dear friend Christina who inspired me with her writing and graciously allowed me to incorporate her poetry into my creation.
i'm so sorry you've been going through such a hard time!
i think keeping on,despite long years of wrestling with a ravaging illness (and uncertainties about that illness) makes you strong, not weak.
and i think you've given lots back to the world--through your essays, through your beautiful photos, and i'm sure in ever so many other ways as well. the world is lucky to have you!
those who love you see as anything but worthless--they see you as precious. i'm praying that the Comforter show you why He has that name, and i'm praying that God will give you the gift of seeing yourself as those who love you do--especially, of seeing yourself as He, the one who loves you best, sees you.
looking forward to more pictures and story of the project.
@Chris: You make a good point for pondering (you always do!). Prolonged suffering has a way of making us feel weak and useless; yet as you say, enduring suffering would seem to indicate strength and character. I will tuck this away in my arsenal for defeating the enemies attacks.Delete
Thank you for kind words and especially for prayers. The truth is that I believed I was worthless from the time I was very young--long before the symptoms of my illness defined my life. God has brought so much healing in my life in this regard but I am realizing that there is still work to be done, that my battle with illness still bears the marks of shame and I need to be on my guard against those lies as I walk the long road of treatment.
So wonderful to connect with you here after my long stretch of being out of touch with life--I've been buried in this art project for weeks and am just now resurfacing into the rest of my life :o).
As a friend, dear Courtney, you are an embarrassment of riches. What can I say to such gracious words on top of your already gracious beautifying my words with your art? You have such great worth in my eyes, sister, and even more in His. May the Holy Spirit pour hope and love into that capacious heart of yours. You are a gift.ReplyDelete
@tinuviel: Well that is a new name I've never been given before: an embarrassment of riches. :o). Thank you, Dear Friend. It has been such a privilege to create something from your work and incorporate a piece of you into my art here. Thank you for words of love and encouragement--and for your prayers that you never cease to offer on my behalf. It is pure grace to walk this road of life with you, even from afar.Delete
Simply sobbing. Stunned by your beauty... Stunned.ReplyDelete
You make broken so achingly beautiful, and I wish I could take your face in my hands just now and gaze at all the glory He is creating as you pour your life onto that cross shaped tree. Such rare beauty. MMMM...you look like your Father, friend.
@Bernadette: Dearest Friend....just--thank you. Thank you for praying, for loving, for encouraging me to press on through all the hard days. Longing for that face-to-face chat with you one day.Delete