hope’s hazards

April 2, 2011

It’s best to start this post with a poem:


is obvious
and it hurts
think of a scab
or a scar

or a reattached button
slight off-centre
different colour thread
too tight

yet stronger

Our pastor preached a sermon this past Sunday about letting go of bitterness. It felt great to worship God in that moment. I repented for some bitterness I’ve carried, felt new faith rise in my heart, and left church with high hopes for the week ahead.

What a disappointment the week was in comparison! I’ve had moments where I wished that tomorrow would be a better day, but it is so rare that I wish the next week would be a better WEEK. (I’m sure there are some of you who wish next year or next decade would be better).

A lot went right this week circumstantially. Nothing to do with people I saw, events I led or attended, or even the weather (well, there were 2 foul rainy days). My struggles were internal. Me holding something back from God and trying to deal with it on my own (ministers and Christian leaders especially face this temptation). How this opens us up for attack by the enemy of our souls! And lies I did, have, and will believe.

God wants it all.

Unless I let God speak (which means I stop yelling at him), let God have it, and let God have His ways with me, I cannot be full of hope. If I just talk to my journal, my guitar, or the floor and don’t open up to other people who may or may not understand me, I become arrogant and self-sufficient (and in my eyes, more arty somehow).

I have a love/hate relationship with being an artist. I love the stuff I create and how it can speak to me and bless others, but I hate that I don’t even understand myself. I take comfort at times in being around other artists, but we don’t understand each other either.

A lot of my projects are personal (I came up with some more ideas of stuff I want to do yesterday on a long walk). They feel like stabs in the dark almost always. Last week, I carried a painting over to Edinburgh College of Art where I took a part-time course this past fall just on the encouragement from my tutor that this would be a great event. It was also minimal effort. Because I painted on board, I didn’t even have to frame it.

The exhibit opened Thursday evening. This was the worst day of my week. Rainy weather and me not being able to figure out how to make a website (again)–I’ll get there: I’ve got a lot of training videos to watch. I stayed in all day and didn’t go to my studio.

I was teary at the exhibition. The first thing I see walking up the stairs is this massive banner: “Don’t lose hope: You’re just tired darling.” (Tired I was after about four nights of not sleeping and wrestling with God). I’m not even sure the banner’s part of the exhibit – it felt very out of place, a huge non sequitur. It was God’s direct word to me.

I didn’t stay for the winning announcements. I went around the exhibit twice, didn’t talk to anyone, barely waved at my tutor (he didn’t recognise me because I don’t have dreadlocks anymore), and made my way out of there. I was on my way to my graphic design course anyway, even though I told them I would be late because I had an exhibit just before. There are over 150 works in the show, and all of them are better than mine. No one was even looking at my painting. It was above eye level and behind a section of wall. I could barely see it because I’m short.

My graphic design course was wild that night, too. This was the night we were all meant to present our books. I was the only one who completed mine. While everyone in the room was really excited for me (and a bit jealous), I felt dorky. I spent a lot of late nights finishing this book.

The next day, I took a university student I mentor over to see my painting because we were very near. What do I see beside my painting? A sticky note with “2nd prize” scrawled on it. Utter shock, complete amazement, and my faithful friend disbelief.

After looking at the other award winners and telling my friend about why all the other paintings in the exhibit are better, I go to the office to ascertain what I had won exactly. A free course, which is worth £200.

Guess I’ll keep being an artist after all. I’ll be taking two art classes this spring: drawing and painting. I’ll let hope be “the thing with feathers” that may seem elusive at times, but also let it “[perch] in the soul.”

God, even though it hurts, You can take residence in me.


6 Responses to “hope’s hazards”

  1. b. said

    Thanks for allowing Him to use you in opening up your heart and sharing this post.

    You’re right on time.

  2. rose said

    nicole sorry you had a hard week. But on the bright side loved your book and the art was exquisite.Remember God is always there with you so just keep praying. congradulations on second place you should be very proud. You are very talented. love mom

  3. Grace said

    Nicole….I love you. Hope. It’s illusive. But I’m praying that that the GOODNESS of God is bound to your soul this week. Thank you for your honest, faithful words of witness.


  4. Valerie said

    Thank you Nicole for your openness. We all know how it feels to have those days. God is faithful though! Also, I would love to help you with your website when I come this summer!

  5. Sandra said

    Amazing. Amazing. Amazing. I love you so much. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Charity said

    your words are as strong as your spirit
    deep, honest, and pulling others in

    i think many of our lives feel minimal, tucked in a corner, and beyond the line of sight – yet we are occasionally surprised to find that random sticky note left there while we weren’t looking reminding us that while we were overwhelmed or uncertain, those around us…never stopped watching.

    your words are as strong as your spirit
    deep, and honest. keep pulling us in

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