Today after one of our art finals, the teacher gave us what he called “his speech.” Basically, he told us that we had to have enough of a passion for art to really, really work at it, because it wouldn’t be easy. We had to know what we wanted and be good at it, or, in his words, “the art world will chew you up and spit you out.” He rather scolded some of us for not giving our best or working at a college level. After he said “have a good summer” and we left, some of the students were happy that they wouldn’t have to see that teacher for three months… I think we were all intimidated and a little scared that we wouldn’t make it through the rest of our college career. Maybe some of them will change their major to business admin or humanities. Me? I am scared to death and have added a bunch of things to my “to do in order to be a professional artist” list. I do know, however, that God has made me an artist. I know how it feels to be so overwhelmed by beauty, that it results in a sort of sickness- a throbbing pain in the heart. I know the pressure of pent up self-expression and also the impatience of putting it all aside. I will not give up… I will give it my best!
This morning I found out that out of sheer stupidity, I lost a scholarship. Misunderstandings & missed deadlines removed the possibility of a very much needed payment on my tuition bill. It made me so mad I cried… I walked along to my dorm and said, “Why do I have to fight so hard to do your will, God? You know, I could do something easier.” Both my parents and I have been working for years to make college possible, and it hurts me to see how much they are sacrificing for plane tickets, laundry, care packages, clothes… etc. I am paying for tuition with my own blood, sweat, and tears, and I just lost half of what I would make all summer long.
Then I read the Psalm that was open on my browser. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled… they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel.” I’m not going to pretend that everything is fine now, but I do know that God has brought me to my third year of college with no debt- He will certainly be faithful for the last two and a half years. Through the fire & the storm, I pray that I will still be able to look up and praise Him for His goodness and His wonderful works in my life. “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, ‘Amen!’ Praise the LORD!” [Ps. 106:48]
Sometimes when I feel myself slipping back to the place of heaviness, of obligation and of earth, I need to go somewhere quiet and remember. I need to remember that I am not held by anyone else’s preferences, expectations, or convictions; I find my code of living in God’s Word alone. And also, I am not a permanent resident of earth… God and I have big plans for real life, after I die. I can live free and in the overwhelming love of God. I will not be held back by things that I can feel, taste, and touch! I need to find the truth again that faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
The sky never gets quite black in the city. It glows purplish-orange from the city lights, and at first I thought it was beautiful. Now it makes me think of smog and strangers, and I realize that I can’t see the stars any more. Where I come from, the sky goes black and you see Orion and the Big Dipper and even a few planets if you know where to look for them… and the moon comes up over pine trees instead of the junky buildings downtown. I tell my roommates I’m going to find an aviation major and catch a ride home and they laugh with me… we all know it’s impossible, but dreaming is important when you can’t see the stars and you’ve forgotten what home smells like.
Tonight I found out that I don’t even want to date. My roommates threatened to “set me up” with a premed major named Phil who “is really nice.” My excuse for refusing? I didn’t give one- just said I didn’t want to, thank you very much. Later I realized how deep my convictions had become without me knowing it. Because I believe that God has promised me that He will clearly show me the right man, I have decided to just wait. What’s wrong with dating? Nothing… but I know that God has a different plan for me. I know most people my age would consider me warped. [“How are you ever going to get married if you won’t date?”] etc. etc. You know what? This isn’t a gamble. My future marriage is in God’s hands just like my future career is and everything else about my life… and I am committed to leaving it there.
Being an artist scares me. I am not confident in my ability, at least not in the degree I have now. I feel that intense practice and study are necessary to even compete with my peers at a level of excellence. One thing I am confident about, and that is the fact that I am uniquely called of God to be studying art. I can be sure of God’s plan for me & I can follow, but the weak part of me would rather not work so hard. I know the next two and a half years are going to be a very intense period of growth and constant challenge, taking me farther than I ever would go on my own. God must have a purpose for me greater than I can imagine… but whatever I do will be a result of his gifts, flowing from a heart that He created, for His glory. What can I do but do my art for Him?
Yesterday I bridged the gap between break and a new semester. I almost cried when the airplane left the runway… and then I had a headache and I hated being stared at by strangers. I laid my head on the window & didn’t understand, until I went into the sanctuary of God. Oh Lord, thou hast searched me and known me… if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. God, I know You’re my Father, but I really don’t want to do this. Because she has set her love upon me, therefore will I deliver her: I will set her on high, because she hath known my name. She shall call upon me, and I will answer her: I will be with her in trouble; I will deliver her and honor her. Maybe we can do this after all. I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou has sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
Certain people in my life keep reminding me that the next semester is bearing down on me like a tornado. I wonder… when will I stop counting out my life in semesters? Right now my future looks exactly like this: semester, summer work, semester, winter work, semester, summer work, semester, winter work, semester. After that fateful last semester, all is question marks and hope and dreams. I get a kick out of people who ask me what I’m going to do with my studio art major, because I don’t know either. All I know is that God wants me to be an artist. I also know that He has my life all mapped out, down to the last destination. No worries.