Every year, I look forward to which painting will be my first. For the last 10 years, every painting I completed as my first artwork of the new year has been very prophetic for what that year has held for me.
Back in November 2019, I started working on a new painting. As always, I wasn’t sure what it would be as I painted with my hands and slowly began to see what I wanted to incorporate into the canvas and colors.
I painted a picture of a woman—bold, beautiful, and naked without shame; reaching up to the heavens as she became a tree, one with the earth and sky above. At her feet, she was emerging from another girl, also beautiful, but curled up in a fetal position, face down.
I left this painting for a long time, because I didn’t know what it meant, and the Spirit I felt while painting it had left. I was stuck, but I knew I would return to it in God’s timing. I also know this meant something very personal and deep to me that I couldn’t yet see or hear.
In mid-2019 I was in worship at church, and praying about a few things in particular. I wasn’t singing along with the words, but simply closing my eyes to pray and hear from God about something heavy on my heart. In his answer, he showed me the picture of a gorgeous butterfly that had just emerged from its cocoon. Her wings were still pulled back, and she was desperately trying to hold on to her cocoon, not wanting to leave it… still believing it was a part of her identity. Although this spoke to me then, it didn’t have the full impact of its meaning until God brought it back to my mind at the completion of my latest painting, Emanuel.
On the first day of 2020, I was thinking and praying about the same thing I was meditating on in church on the day I had the butterfly vision. But when God brought it back to my mind, I heard him say, “It’s time to let go.” I realized, once again, I was this new creation—the butterfly that God had transformed me into—but I was still holding on to that branch, afraid to see who I really am by trying so hard not to let go of who I was.
I left America for England when I was 25 years old. Last March, I returned to my hometown, moving back after living for several years overseas. It took me 9 long months to fully realize that I can’t just go back to being who I was because I am no longer that person. I never realized how much I have changed, and also have been fighting this change by hiding who I am in some ways.
I have always heard the call of God since I came to know Christ. It’s often not as clear as day, but a feeling, a whisper, or an intuition. The Spirit cannot be explained in words, but that’s the best I have to describe this relationship I hold with him/her. I say her because I feel strongly that God is both male and female—especially when it comes to Holy Spirit (the root Hebrew words for God’s Spirit in the Bible, Ruach, is feminine).
I feel God’s presence as male and female—especially these last 3 years, which has been a big part of the transformation I’ve gone through as that butterfly. This transformation came only from God—not my wish or my doing. It has been my personal journey of knowing Christ… and this knowing has only grown deeper, and more intimate as I walk forward in who I am today. I feel God’s wisdom is in the heart and soul, not in the knowledge of the mind. Christ lives in our hearts, and that’s where I want to know him.
God is our abundance, and in Him, we have everything—including our identity. I’m still in the process of discovering who I am, but I’m finding this in my constant discovery of Him.
I suddenly knew the meaning of the painting I had created, waiting to be completed. Although I am no longer who I once was, I am thankful for her in every way. She is still very much a part of me, and made me who I am today. I am the new thing that God has been doing (or undoing) all along. (Isaiah 43:19)
I finished this first painting of 2020, and what I believe to be a prophetic declaration for this year: May we stop hiding and be truthful to who you are – this is the very glory of God. This is where He has led me, so it’s time for me to be free. Free of shame, judgment, and fear. God is revealing himself constantly to us, and I believe we all have the eyes to see—but sometimes, maybe without even realizing it, we are choosing to keep them closed. (Scroll to read the painting’s poem)
Reveal yourself to me
I am ready
I’ve been standing in front of this mirror for far too long
Hearing your song –
Beckoning me to open my eyes
To truly and fully realize
Who you are—the Great I AM
Breaking the religious boundaries that blind us
To see a God that defines us
Male and Female—
God with us… Emanuel
Featured Image by Sarah Camille Soltani Icely