Friday, January 28, 2011

2011.029 "My Heart Burst Open"

I realize this post, even now as you have seen the title and are reading this first sentence, is unusually macabre for me. I've had a very emotional day with things bubbling to the surface that are completely heartbreaking.

Late yesterday evening I read an article from last year about one of my favorite musicians. The article was about how she had "come out" as a lesbian. That in itself is not a surprising thing to find in the headlines anymore but what made this case particularly striking was that she had, several years ago, gained a good deal of notoriety as a "Christian" artist. I first saw her in concert when she was opening for another artist who I had been following for years and years.

I found the article fretfully intriguing. I mean that I was fretful that I was intrigued. Can a person live a life contrary to mainstream religious tenets and still have faith, and a relationship with their creator? Can anyone at all be the judge of such a thing that is not themselves grappling for the truth?

In my wondering I shared the article on my facebook wall and asked the question, "what do you think of this"? I layed some groundrules asking that all responses be based in love and respect. Immediately I began receiving a barrage of comments both public and private. Most, sadly, were laden with condemnation and the biblical references that are nearly always seen and heard when Christians take aim at anyone they deem hopelessly bound in sin.

After several hours and a few messages that were so harsh I felt as though I were the one on trial I decided to end the madness and delete the entire thread. What had begun as a question from an honest heart had turned into something divisive and ugly.

I have been around Christians my entire life. My family was part of the same segment of protestant religion for generations upon generations. One thing I have found to be morosely consistent is the rabid consumption of their own, once condemned.

At some point I attempted to make reference to a biblical passage myself but it made little difference. I am reiterating the entire passage to which I was referring here:

 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.

 Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
This morning I saw strutting. I saw swelled heads, flying off the handle, attempts to force will, keeping score of the sins of others and disregard. I was heartbroken and even ashamed. I remembered all the reasons why I have struggled with calling myself a Christian.

Mahatma Gandhi spoke with more profundity than I could ever summon when he said, "“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Today my heart was burst open.

My Heart Burst Open - 12x12 digipaint

I am fully aware that your opinions may differ from my own. I am also aware that each of us walks our own pace with our faith. I implore you to keep in mind that not one of us is any better than another and that grace is not conditional. If it were, even the best of us would be doomed. We should be quick to love, quick to forgive, slow to anger and resist the urge to condemn others in light of our own shortfalls.

Peace to you.
~ Lisa

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  1. This one makes me feel not see. I know that I am a logical thinking and when I see good art it takes me some time to see past the shapes and let myself feel the piece. For this piece I don't need to do that. I can feel it without any effort. After reading the message that goes with the painting know the true pain that you are feeling over this mess in your work and it makes me so sad!!

  2. It hurts when your heart is all open like that. You have the gift of compassion, so your heart breaks for all of the people who have been wounded through condemnation in the church. Just keep praying for God to give you compassion for others. It is the essence of the life of Christ.

  3. I also search as you do and wonder at the "Christians" that I know that hold so much hate and condemnation for those who don't fit the mold. I believe in God and Jesus and the way I was taught as a child which seems to be so different from the path of organized religion today. I too have fallen pray to the awful side of sharing of my inner most thoughts on Facebook and I am very careful where I go anymore. It is sad that there seems to be only one side anymore and if you aren't on it then you are outcast and condemned by even those that you thought were your friends and family. I believe as my father did, that God is not just inside the walls of a building but every where under the sky is his temple and that a prayer by any of his children in God's great temple is heard and that it is up to God to judge our fellow man--not up to us to judge. We are ALL God's children. I heard basically the same thing the other day when someone said "Christians today like the messenger, they just don't like his message", just a new twist on Gandhi I guess. I admire you for how you open your heart and soul to others. I often see my own struggles in your art and writings. I wish you the best.

  4. Sometimes words are not enough. I guess that's why God gave us art, to express the things in which our language limits us. He, on the other hand, has no limits.