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Artist, Teacher, Blogger concerned with American culture, its effect on faith and how Christianity effects American culture, specifically, what the word "christian" means to Americans today.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What will you become in 2012?

Happy New Year!!! My prayer is that everyone has a happy and prosperous New Year and that we prosper even as our souls prospers... and I pray your soul is indeed prospering! This month, I want to share with you a journal entry I wrote in 2009, because I think it fitting for the beginning of a new year. It's about becoming... becoming what you were intended to be, becoming the person who can fulfill your life's purpose (and yes I do believe that everyone has one), and that rebirth is the process by which we become.

What do you do when you’ve done the right thing, and it wasn’t good enough? Not because you did it wrong, but because someone thought you were wrong. You return to your beginnings.

This is the story of the last 10 years of my life. From 1999 to 2006, 7 years, I spent just trying to get it right. To be the person others wanted me to be… but it didn’t work. I couldn’t be someone else. I couldn’t deny who I am. And who I am is not bad! I’m a compassionate, loyal, intelligent woman to those who are compassionate, loyal and intelligent with me. However, I have no respect or love for those who don’t treat me with the same respect. This is who I am. This is who God, in His infinite wisdom, made me… and He made me this way for purpose.

In the 3 years after 2006, until today, I have been in a struggle to return to my beginning. I moved back to the city of my birth, Chicago. I have visited every area I lived in when I first lived here. I’ve basically reconstructed my life. Everything from my birth certificate and baptismal certificate to listing every address, school and job I’ve ever held. These are the things that constitute who I am and they have also given me clues as to who I am intended to be. They’ve given me clues to my purpose. Things I didn’t see from the beginning, but are becoming more crystallized as time goes on. Today… like a phoenix from the ashes of my life, I am being reborn.

August 2007 to June 2008, I taught school for the first time in my life. It was not at all what I expected, but it was a very useful task because it showed me something. I can teach, but not everyone knows how to learn. How do you learn to appreciate truth and accept it when you’ve never been taught to value it? You could have the best teacher in the world in front of you, telling you amazing truths, but because your first teachers, parents and pastors/priests never taught you to value truth, you can’t appreciate it when you hear it. You don’t have an “ear to hear” because your ear has not been circumcised.

I also added another skill to my resume. I’m a potter. March 17, 2008, on St. Patrick’s Day, I “accidentally” discovered Lillstreet, a predominantly Irish artist studio and school focusing on the manual arts. 2 weeks later, I started my first wheel class there and was able to fulfill a lifelong dream of working in clay. The process of working with clay taught me a great deal about myself and how I work as opposed to how I should work.

Clay is meditation. To work it well, you have to get to know it. It’s intimate and calming. The most important aspect of clay is to … TAKE YOUR TIME! Don’t rush the clay. If you don’t wedge the clay enough before you put it on the wheel, it will develop air bubbles and ultimately make a weak vessel, one that could explode in the kiln. If you try to pull it too fast, it will break. If you apply too much pressure, your fingers will go straight through it… or you’ll wind up pushing it off the wheel, destroying the vessel. You have to know your clay. Wedge it well, center it and bring it up slow and even… then you will have a well formed, stable piece. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in clay. If we did the same with people, we would have well adjusted adults. Instead, we do just the opposite.

We don’t wedge them enough. Not training and teaching them enough. And training or teaching doesn’t mean academic teaching, but generational teaching. Instruction in lessons that can only be passed down from generation to generation, from parent to child, elder to youth, leader to community.

We stress them to no end, pulling them way too fast. Requiring them to mature too fast, forcing them to deal with adult situations long before they are able. Some believe that conveying generational lessons is a function of culture, and to some extent it is. However, culture is not the best way to pass these lessons on because following culture and doing what it dictates won’t give you an understanding of why these lessons are important. Culture gives you the “what”… what to do and what not to do, but it won’t give you the “why”, which is just as, if not more important.

Now you may ask, what has all this got to do with going back to the beginning? What has this got to do with rebirth? A lot! When you are born the first time, you are born into darkness. As the bible says, “you are born in iniquity”. You have no idea why you do what you do or why you are who you are. In fact, you don’t yet know who you are. You do what you’re told, or what you want blindly, without understanding. You do the “what”.

When you are reborn, your motivation changes. You begin to see more clearly, or maybe for the first time, the why. And the answer is never just because that’s what you were told. You begin to see the connectedness of things, people and events in your life, relationships you’ve had, good or bad, and how each event has culminated to creating the person you are and why continuing to discover and develop who you are is paramount to fulfilling your purpose.

You also begin to recognize that your purpose is bigger than you. It really isn’t just about you, and your desire to fulfill it isn’t just some selfish pipe dream… it’s quite intentional and important and timely. The greater your since of urgency, the greater the need. The greater your focus has to be to accomplish what you were born to do.

I’ve discovered this process of rebirth is not a onetime event; however it does have a point of origin. Awareness is the key. From the moment one becomes aware, the rebirth process has begun. It then takes place over time and becomes a constant state of becoming. It’s boxes within boxes. Each containing the promise of a new gift. I believe that I’m about midway through this process. Paul talks about not knowing what we shall become. I know what he means. I look through the glass darkly, not seeing everything clearly, but things are beginning to take shape. There has been a struggle to clear away all the preconceived notions that cloud my view and unlearn or learn accurately the lessons of the past that were taught wrong or with malicious intent. But my vision is becoming clear and I look forward to learning each lesson… to opening that next box, to get to the promise that is inside.

As we enter into 2012 and make our New Year's resolutions, please keep in mind that along with the standard loose weight and exercise more mantras, we resolve to become, to be reborn and to pursue being the person God created us to be, so that we might fulfill His purpose, in this world, for His glory.
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