Thursday, January 15, 2009

Every day, my Father cups His hands together and holds out a world full of beauty for me to discover. Some days, I miss the gift He stretches out to offer me, too caught up in what I'm doing or wanting to notice. Some days, I take it from His hands and turn it over and pull it apart and make it my own.

Over the last few months, I have been tooling around others' photography blogs, looking at pictures, developing my eye, wishing, dreaming, playing, discovering, learning. So often when I approach my photography, I hit it with a gut-clenching, heart-freezing competitive streak - I have too often come to capture beauty with the compulsion to be the best. In living there, I lose my ability to share it, to create as I clench my hands around it and make it mine - to make myself worth something.

I recently realized, however, that being the best isn't everything. Yesterday, I read (and commented on) a thoughtful post from an artist I don't know. She writes of "giving [herself] permission - to be whatever it is.... permission to fail, and to succeed." Permission to do without questioning herself.

I know the questions, the insecurity, the madness of which she writes. And I know something else - that permission I have received "to be whatever it is" is grace that does not come from me.

The questions were for me only the beginning of a journey; the insecurities and imperfections were the lines that drew me to a place in Him where I am whole. In this place, I am discovering renewed passion, deepened desire, life that is more vibrant than I have seen before. In this place of His love, I am free. Free to be imperfect, free to wait for Him to work in my life, free to seek the beauty of His face without shame or condemnation or compulsion.

Beauty is the knock at a door that opens into our souls. As I have been exploring beauty around the sites I have visited lately, I see the questions, the hope, the desire that somehow beauty is enough in itself to make us free, if we can only embrace it, embrace ourselves, and give the best we can. I know the answer, that it is not enough, that it will never be enough if it is something we make our own.

For so long, I compulsively clutched what He offered me every day to myself, not wanting to offer it back and become less; now as He increases in me, I find that I have not lost, that I am more.

On the days that I am most alive, I receive and give the beauty back to Him to see what He will do with it and He throws it up and we watch it sparkle-shower down around us both - and then it belongs to everyone. And I watch Him knock at their souls.


emily said...

There needs to be a font for "standing up on my laptop, clapping and hollering". Because that is what I'm doing right now. This post is lovely and life-giving. I am basking in the sparkly shower of your words right now with a smile on my face. Thanks for sharing your many gifts with the masses. We are blessed.

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