Leaning over the side of the bed and tilting the alarm clock toward me, I read the numbers for the fifth time that night, 3:30 a.m. Wide awake again. After losing my last child in an early miscarriage, weeks of insomnia had set in.
“Will I ever sleep again, Lord? Please help me rest. I can’t do this anymore.” My tears wet the pillow.
“You will rest in Me, dear one.” The familiar voice soothed my fears for a moment. I released a deep sigh, scooting my back against my husband’s for support.
The next day, after settling my three little ones down for an afternoon nap, I fell into my bed, wondering when the cycle of exhaustion would ever end. Anxiety plagued me like the flies in Egypt.
I glanced over to an empty easel mocking me in the corner of my bedroom. It had been since before the girls were born that I had time or energy to pick up my brush. As I stared despondently at the stark, metal frame, the Lord’s whisper came again.
“It’s time to paint, My love.”
“Paint. Ha! I can’t even see straight, Lord.”
“Pick up the brush, little one. Paint your freedom.”
I knew what He meant. Paint all the pictures of redemption He had given me in my darkest moments, where He had burst into the black, sucking hole and pulled me upward, bringing His light and love.
I stared at the easel again. “Ok. Lord, I will try.”
That afternoon, I dove in. With paint dripping from the brush, I laid the colors in, black, white, swoosh. A large, steady hand immerged gently holding a woman who slept peacefully in the palm. Can I trust that hand to hold me? What if He drops me into the abyss below? Worship music played low in the background. Tears came. A flood of them.
My mind drifted back to a wrap-around porch. My age, fifteen. My grandma stood in the sliding glass door, offering me another glass of lemonade. Whiffs of blackberry cobbler drifted through the open door. A cool breeze refreshed me as I twirled the paintbrush in my fingers. Contemplating the next color to swish across the sky of my cabin scene, I peered at the smoky blue hue on the top of the mountain ridge in front of me. The trickling sound of the stream below soothed my aching heart.
“Safe. I was safe then,” I thought. For the first time in my life, I could breathe deeply in my grandmother’s care.
Would God keep me safe in His hand? Did I have a choice? I’d tried running, hiding from the Almighty before. How well did that work? Stuff and hide my life as if I could from His all-knowing eyes. Yet His eyes, though they saw, never condemned me.
Lastly, an angel wing appeared covering the woman. The same wing I had seen wrapped around me when I began the uncovering of my past. It protected, shielded, sheltered me from the battering ram of condemnation and terror that always seemed lurking around the corner.
Stepping back from my first piece, I sighed and then cried some more. The psalmist words welled in my heart, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1, NKJV).
Many years have passed since that day. Many paintings have been tucked safely away in my closet. Until last fall.
I woke up from a dream, an odd dream of rescuing a girl from a prostitution ring. “What does this mean, Papa?” My name for the mighty Yahweh has been very tender in this past season. Immediately, I saw in vision form me standing in a room, a studio of sorts, teaching a painting class.
“I want you now to begin showing others how to paint their freedom as well.”
“What? That’s too personal. I can’t do that.”
“Yes. You can do all things through Me. I will give you strength and help you.” In the stillness of the night, He continued to bring clarity to what He was asking of me.
My heart raced, not for fear this time but for the anticipation of something new. He was giving me my heart’s desire, wrapping up all my dreams of how to help others, my love for art, and leading others into freedom into one neat little package. Amazed, I stared at the ceiling. “When, Lord?”
“Take baby steps now.”
February 1st of this past year, I began this journey called Blossoming Hearts Studio where I offer painting classes once a month. It’s in its infancy, much like I feel still so many times, a toddler waddling forward.
People tell me, “I can’t paint. I’m not the creative type,” but we are all made in the image of God. He is creative, so we have that ability to create as well, though your method may be different from mine. More than that, though, it’s not about creating a masterpiece. It’s about connecting with the Master, about giving yourself space to breathe, to be. It’s about opening up your heart and allowing Him to touch places maybe He’s not been able to get to through other means.
I recently heard a talk in which the speaker stated that, in his counseling sessions, he always has crayons and paper for his clients. He instructed them to draw as they talked about their pain. Somehow, in the creative process, it freed them to be able to bypass barriers that had kept their hearts closed off, and they were able to embrace healing in a new way.
Though I’ve only been doing this for a short time, my greatest joy has been working with survivors. After beginning, two doors quickly flew open. Once a month, I now lead classes for Switch (an organization that rescues women from human trafficking) and, periodically, with another group of survivors who come from various backgrounds and abuse. It brings joy to my heart to see those so broken come and find some space to step out of their situations for a moment and find peace.
At a recent class, one young lady came in with puffy eyes from crying. She sat alone across the room. As she was leaving at the end, she leaned over and whispered, “I came in crying. I’m leaving happy. Thank you.” That, my friends, is my greatest joy, to see the Holy Spirit at work, healing the brokenhearted.
If you are interested in being a part of this in any way or would just like more information, please contact me at [email protected] or like my Facebook page: “blossomingheartsstudio” and follow our events. Monthly classes are available as well as birthday parties and special events if you are local to the Greenville, SC area, and artwork is available at the Kingdom Winds Marketplace. My utmost desire through it all is to allow the Lord to use this to touch and heal hearts, allowing each one to blossom in His loving care.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on wholeheartedwomen.org
Featured Image by Mike Fox