This site is primarily about my art and design both in what I know about it and my own work – what I create and why….. that said, when I am reading and asking myself why is this person trying to sell me something or give advice? who are they? what do they really know? I realized that my life influences my art and art is a part of my life, so to really share about my art I have to share a little about my life experience – to paint with intense emotion one must first feel it. I want to share a bit about me not only for how experiences influence my art (which I would way rather talk about than my trips through the valleys of life) but in my 43 years on this earth I have learned things that are of value….. things that are worth sharing if for no other reason than to inspire someone else to decide healing is better than allowing pain to become normal…. I want to contribute to the lives of others in a way that is bigger than just helping to choose the right necklace, room design or painting to hang on the wall. (although I love all of those things, the human soul matters so much more and I want to help point people to healing)
Pearls:what are they, how are they made?
pearls are created from irritation. They are made when an irritant slips between the two shells of an oyster. That oyster immediately begins to cover that irritant with nacre, or mother-of-pearl. Several layers later you have something beautiful: a pearl.
So tell me what that has to do with you?
It really has to do with all of us…. and it is not an unfamiliar analogy either. I have heard the comparison before but as a young person never applied it to my own life. Now, 20-ish years later, it is the perfect example of what can happen in our lives if we allow our pains and losses to be used in such a way that we become stronger people, with improved lives through our unpleasant experiences. On the other hand, if we do not react well those irritations become burning pain deep in our very souls, destroying us. I want to talk a little about one of my journeys through loss – from a not brief enough dip in the bitterness pool and then finding out that it was best to allow the pain and loss to be turned into pearls, making me a better me. I really just want to share in hopes that others will be inspired to do the same in their own lives or share their own stories and be an inspiration to someone else who needs it! Sometimes we live with the pain of our rejections and losses as if that is normal, not realizing that it does not have to be.
when the nightmare began…
My goal is not to spill my woes and get sympathy. I can honestly say that I am not sorry for a single nightmare that was inflicted upon me as a child, or since. Everything I experienced contributed to the stronger person I am now.
How does one learn how to forgive? I mean really forgive…. not the oops sorry I stepped on your toes kind of forgiveness, but the forgiveness of one that changed your entire life, stole life and relationships and altered the course of your entire existence on this earth… serious personal violations from those who not only trespassed in a deep and personal way but acted as though it was their right to do so without the slightest concern for the human being they were potentially destroying…. that is a whole different kind of forgiveness requiring something pulled up from deep within that only a reliance on the Lord and his strength, grace and mercy can provide… a forgiveness that some know nothing of, either through choosing to hold onto anger or maybe one who has been blessed to be surrounded by people who just loved them, protecting them from the life violators.
So, without getting too specific – my parents divorced at 8 and my dad remarried when I was 10 to my first experience with a major life violator (to put it mildly). My relationship with my dad was slowly suffocated into nonexistence. I was given strict boundaries on her end but was never allowed boundaries of my own, not even reasonable ones. I was told I was in for a miserable future because as she said “girls usually grow up to look like their mothers…..so, sorry”. That was one of the milder violations. At 16, she told my dad that I was leaving or she was. I came home to find a note on the steering wheel of my car to go to my grandparents. Everything I owned was in a pile in the middle of the room. It was great because I was safe there, but not great to have your dad move you out because his wife turned every story around to make you look like the world’s worst child that ever lived. I was not perfect, Lord knows I was a teenager and about as fun as anyone that age is to live with, but not “that bad” considering. I had a friend at the time who was out sleeping around and doing drugs, getting drunk all the time… I had never had a boyfriend, did not know what alcohol tasted like, let alone what it could do and drugs were not an option. I was overall pretty good considering the things I had been exposed to. she just did not like me and wanted me gone. Goal met.
the unfortunate “new me”
That day changed something in me. I began to really see the results of a growing distrust in humanity because of the serious violations… I mean, if my own dad chose to get rid of me then who was next? if he really did not know me enough to know I was not who she said I was then who would ever care to know me? did anyone really love me? was I worth loving? I mean, my grandparents were amazing but did they take me in out of obligation or love? That was the day bitterness began to take root and seep into my soul.
Internally, I hated her…. really hated her. Externally worked to prove myself and “love” her….. as if it would somehow make her love me so I could have my dad back. I knew that I had to work for the position of least important in the family. If not worked for I think my position with her would have been down with the dogs, maybe was anyway…. I will never know for sure. Thankfully by this time my mother had moved out of the state, saving my brother from the grovelling to get affection miseries….. I spent years on that hamster wheel of futility thinking that it was a path that would lead back to relationship with my dad. After several years, becoming more bitter and angry… emotionally damaged, I, rather than giving it up and moving on felt more of a stubborn determination because it had been so long on that path that I thought if I wanted the years to count I had to stay on that path until results happened….yet with each passing year, making effort to see my dad – going to visit him at work, calling and trying to have relationship and in return getting a token once a year call on my birthday I was so angry I could barely focus on my own life (and did not even realize it until my own life was ruined)… I was a grown woman still mourning the loss that happened as an 8-year old little girl. I hated her even more.
Finally, the prayers and teaching sank in (better late than never)
Well, after relationship failures and marriage lost, living in a swirling pool of misery, all the beautiful teaching from my time at my grandparents began to return to me. The prayers of my grandmother were being answered. She knew what I had gone through, and confessed she never liked my stepmother, seeing through her facade, knowing the damage she did to me and my brother…. Anyway, I know she spent many nights on her knees before the Lord praying for us- while my granddad spent many nights reading the Bible to me and teaching me about life, success and forgiveness… the real kind. Anyway, after a marriage lost and a sea of bitterness to wade through, realizing the pain I caused to my ex husband (who did not deserve to put up with a damaged me anyway) and two beautiful little boys caught in the middle of my emotional mess, the Lord used everything I had been through to show me how to forgive. To realize that my stepmother was damaged as well. I mean really…. in order to cause damage to someone’s life to the degree she did she had to be severely damaged herself…. how could I not forgive her? It was the very thing, the event that set my hatred of her in motion – I mean, I never liked her, but from that moment it went from not liking to hating….. but the very thing that started that root of bitterness, was the very thing that God used to create a pearl. My grandparents being who they were showed me love like I had never seen before and although it took years and more damage than I would ever want to experience or cause in anyone’s life, results came. I looked at what mess my life had become, the damage that bitterness caused and knew something had to change. I did not want my children to live more pain than they already had and after the hurt I caused their dad I wanted to do better for all involved. It was then I started back to church, really began to seek the Lord and learned how to forgive someone…. someone who was not sorry for what she did or even acknowledge the deep suffering she caused….. or cared? I don’t know, but I had to forgive and move on from someone stealing my dad, my childhood and every ounce of self-esteem I had. That was one of the hardest things I have ever done and became one of the most beautiful life lessons.
My point is this: people can be cruel… downright nasty. They have little or no regard for life outside of themselves or for the feelings of others. The years of irritation could have, and almost did ruin me. Instead, through a mess of ugly I learned how to take irritation and make a pearl. Pain that leads to forgiveness and settling into knowing who I really am in Christ and his unconditional love….. That time also led me to be the person who can now set boundaries and know what to allow and not allow in my life without feeling guilty….. and that following Jesus is what matters more than anything because he can truly take every irritation and turn it into a beautiful life lesson that has made me stronger (because I learned how to lean on Jesus).
My advice: Learn the difference between “forgive and forget” situations and when you are dealing with a snake. A snake will always be a snake and that is likely all they will ever be. that does not mean do not forgive. By all means, forgive – but know when its time to stop stepping into the snake pit… know when the Lord is saying walk away because you are too loved by Him to continue to walk in the abuses of others. Forgive so the irritations can become pearls instead of burning pain inside you. Live your dreams and don’t let others kill them and do not receive the words of death from those who are jealous of the treasures God has placed within you…. and remember that the Lord gives us the ability to set boundaries for a reason. Those who are upset when you finally learn how to set a boundary are usually the ones who got the most benefit out of you not having boundaries to begin with.
I welcome your comments, stories or questions. I do not have all the answers but Jesus does. I share my story from a place of love and understanding – I have been there and am in the middle of a storm now. The difference now is I know where my shelter is and I know who to lean on. That changes everything.