Thursday, June 20, 2013

What I Say When I Mosaic

The more you grow up, the more you realize you can't do everything. I can write a little, but it's not the thing that makes me feel most alive. I was past age 30 before I found something that made my heart sing. And then, once I found it, there was a dull thud that came after: the disappointing moment of realizing, "This is it? This is what I have to offer the world?  This is the instrument I get to play? Really?"

I don't know if you can identify with this feeling at all: maybe you aren't disappointed by the realization of what you AREN'T. They seem to come to me in waves sometimes:

Oh. I'm not going to be an important progressive Christian thinker who easily impacts the world with a special focus on social causes that matter, like adoption, meeting the needs of the poor, overcoming racism in the church, and so many other truly important things.

Oh. I'm not going to be a traditional pastor's wife who everyone can go to at any moment because I'm such a rock-solid emotional brick who can handle every crisis with aplomb because my own relationship with God is an unshakable tower of strength.

Oh. I'm not going to be the mother of four children like I always thought I would be.

Oh. I'm not going to be an Olympic gymnast. (seriously. It took a long time to get over that one. I practiced cartwheels for hours of my life in the backyard. Made a balance beam out of a two by four and cement blocks and everything. It still stings a little.)

Much as it does sting, there is also something healthy, I think, about just accepting these things about myself. I've come to think, over the course of the past few years, that people, and especially Christians, trying to be something they aren't, is one of the biggest problems the church has. We chase celebrity status. We guilt ourselves for NOT being our heroes. We try to be something we aren't, and that God never intended us to be because we think it's holier or more important or more like Jesus.  But the thing is, that God made us individuals. He took so much care to make us all different from one another. I've come to think that one of the best ways we could ever serve God and the kingdom is to figure out who we are and be that without comparing ourselves to anyone else.

So a few months ago, I embraced the suck. I'm an introverted, emotional, untrained artist who feels closest to God when I mosaic from old broken dishes.  It's ridiculous. What a silly thing to offer the world. And yet, what a stunning picture of how God chooses to work in the world: God shows up through the weak, foolish, broken things: people. The church. And how better to show how amazing God is, than to show divine power and creativity through such limited materials.

So for the past few months, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, I have created a little differently.  I have made mosaics knowing that this is my voice. This is the best way I have to say who I am and who God is to me and how I see the world and how I am trying to make it better. In case you ever wonder why I don't write more, or sing, or play the guitar or teach children's church or join a choir or become a social worker or participate more in debates and conversations or preach more sermons or share more articles on Facebook or run more programs or anything else that I often feel guilty for NOT doing....well, it's because it takes more faith to believe that God can use what I do, who I am.  It's a ballsy, bold, brassy thing to say "THIS (not that) is my calling."

Not everyone will understand what I am saying when I mosaic. But this is at least some of  what I am trying to express:


Just because it's broken doesn't mean it isn't useful or beautiful.

Pain doesn't have to be for nothing. 

Think before you throw it away. 

Beauty takes surprising forms. 

History matters. 

Mixing different colors, eras and themes can be therapeutic.

Anybody can create from perfect situations and materials, but creating from imperfection takes something special.

You can't rush the process.

Sometimes it doesn't work.

Not everything is ready for transformation. 

I can't control much, but I can make a pattern to follow. 

A broken thing in a mosaic is a lot stronger than the thing ever was in its original state. 

We respond differently to perfect things than we do to redeemed things.

At some point in anything really good, I stand back and think "This is a freaking disaster.

Just because I like doing it, doesn't mean it isn't hard work. 

I can't make a mosaic every day. At least not a good one. 

What you love can hurt you. Almost every mosaic has a little bit of my blood in it. 

I feel like God when I create.  I know something about God that I didn't know before. 

I hate waste. 

Talk is cheap. I know you have a box of dishes you are going to try this with. I did it.


You can't fake this shit.

It's almost never what I envisioned. Sometimes it's better. 

Rejoice in what I do. I'll rejoice in what you do. We need each other.

I had to be alone to make this. 

I do realize just because I used garbage doesn't always mean it is actually art. 

There really is only so much you can polish a turd. I will price it accordingly.


I can only do so much. 

 This is me, saving the world. (This is also you saving the world.)

It's ok if you don't get it.

Maybe someday I'll learn how to do something else.












6 comments:

Mother B said...

Precious Girl ! ! Your Momma loves you ! !

Mother B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
noworries said...

Love this post. It runs so deep , yet the message is simple.

12-arrows said...

thank you for your honesty, it truly does offer me hope! we do get caught up in trying to be "good little Christians and perform". It's hard to step away from the sterotype......

Sara said...

I wish i could find my "this is it" talent...but i haven't found it yet. That I know of :) Thanks for sharing! Truly beautiful!

Bonnie King said...

Vanessa!! I love so much about this post. It truly resonates with me. I get it totally.
I also have learned that our "thing" can change over time which can be uncomfortable until we embrace it...just like one in your list is changing! "Oh. I'm not going to be the mother of four children like I always thought I would be." Hallelujah! Just when we think we have this thing called "life" figured out...you know God must laugh at us (as I type this holding my own miracle baby.)