Some people can pinpoint a specific day in their lives where they came to know Christ. Here in the South, we call it “gettin’ saved”. For some of us it’s like the flip of a light switch. Me…my life was set on a dimmer. I honestly cannot remember a day in my life where I did not believe in God. I remember believing and feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit in my heart from a very young age. However, His light dimmed in and out of my life for a stretch of many years. There were many years that I fell away and the switch was very near, if not in, the off position. But something big happened and the light no longer goes dim. This is my story…
It was a few years ago. My husband and I had two beautiful little girls, at 3 years and 6 months. I was 15 weeks pregnant. The pregnancy was a little unexpected, but we were so excited. Until…I went for a regular check up and the nurses couldn’t find a heartbeat. I stared at the unresponsive ultrasound screen and felt my heart fall slowly to the floor. It was so hard to understand. How? We had already made it through “that worrisome period” and everything was going as planned. And I had felt no change. How could this precious little being inside of me just stop being and I feel nothing? The miscarriage would require surgery. The whole process was truly heart wrenching. I felt that I walked around for many months with my heart drug behind me on the floor, just hanging by a tethered string. And it was a heavy heart. I talked to no one. I mean not really talked. Not about what was really going on inside. I went about normal life, as we are expected to. On occasion, I would bring it up to my husband. But, it wouldn’t even scratch the surface. I just couldn’t seem to go any deeper. I wouldn’t even know what to say. There were no words. No one could possibly understand. I was so torn up. I truly felt that I already knew this Child. I knew it was a little boy. I had seen his sweet face. But, it was all so abstract, which was so hard to explain. How could I so quickly feel deep loss for a life that I knew so little of? And how could I know so little of it and love it so deeply? And why would God take it from me? I couldn’t explain losing something that never existed in our earthly and physical world, so how could I begin to talk about it. I was so conflicted. I had two healthy and perfect children that I was so thankful for. Grieving for the child I didn’t have, somehow, made it feel like I wasn’t thankful enough for what I did have. I longed to mourn, but felt guilty in my mourning. I cried out in agony “Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. (Psalm 61)” I cried this out day after day, month after month. You see, I wasn’t mad at God. It might have been easier if I had been able to get mad. But, I couldn’t muster up enough emotion to get angry. I just wanted to understand. I wanted to see the big picture. I needed to know that my loss meant something. I needed to that there was a purpose. I knew that I needed God, but He felt so unreachable. In every attempt to attend church I sobbed uncontrollably, and I couldn’t face that. Then one day, with the helpful encouragement of my husband, I decided I was going to face it. I wasn’t sure why, but something just told me that it was time. I anxiously applied the waterproof mascara, which I hoped would not form streams down my face. Streams that were proof of the river that I had been damning up for so long. Unbeknownst to me, the floodgates were about to open. God had chiseled a small crack in the dam. He had begun to set things in motion.
That Sunday Worship service wasn’t just any regular service. They were doing “Cardboard Testimonies”. Basically, it’s a series of people giving their testimony through a piece of cardboard and a permanent marker. They label one side of their cardboard with a few words to describe their burden and carry it on stage. They then flip it over to reveal what God transformed that burden into. This simple, yet creative, experience spoke volumes to me. These people were just like me. They looked normal like me. They hurt just like me. They were broken just like me. And they were healed. The damn broke. But it wasn’t some huge explosion. It was a slow and steady stream from my eyes, overflowing from my heart. It was cool and refreshing. Peaceful. For the first time, I felt at ease in my sorrow. The only person that could see my weeping was Jesus. It felt as if I was the only person in the room, just me embracing the Holy Spirit. As the water released, I could see that small crack of light from the other side of the damn.
I had found hope. Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t miraculously heal overnight. As I said before, my life operates on a dimmer switch. But, as I grew closer to God the light grew daily brighter. And as the burden lightened, I could feel my heart slowly lift from the ground. Shortly after that service I stumbled across Isaiah 40:31 in the Bible, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I prayed this scripture daily and clung to it. It so embodied the feeling of my heart lifting up from the floor and taking flight. It is where this painting came from.
I have always been an artist; it is how my creator made me. And He knew that art would speak to me. Cardboard testimonies was just one of many healing moments, and people, that God would place in my walk. I began to serve in the very visual arts ministry that had spoken so strongly to me. And I began to use my hurt and healing and my gifts and talents to do for others what had been done for me. I was sharing hope and through that was glorifying God. That was the purpose and it was worth it. I am so thankful for it. Every painting I paint comes from this place. These are my “Cardboard Testimonies”. Each one is a piece of my story, of my walk with Christ. This is just the beginning. There is much more that has been and will be. It is my prayer that my story and my art will speak to you and help you to find the hope that only God can give.