June 7, 2015
A year ago I wrote of Grace’s struggles with cutting and depression in honor of Semicolon Day http://cowbird.com/story/91702/Semicolon_Project/ To mark the occasion, I drew a semicolon on my wrist and had my puzzle piece bracelet turned to the words “I AM.” Despite Grace’s cutting and scars, I could see glimpses of God’s redemption in her story. More and more redemption has been revealed as time has gone on. And I’m reminded so often of how painful her journey has been, but through it all, God’s presence has been constant and secure.
My Gorgeous is an artist. She decompresses and focuses by drawing and sketching and painting. Her talent amazes me and her father because we clearly are not gifted in the arts at all. But Grace…Grace puts down her thoughts on canvas like she is just breathing. Grace captures a moment through art as naturally as she captures wildlife; she goes to a zen-like place with her charcoals and paints, while I freak out watching her with a snake from the yard coiled around her arm. Did I mention she just finished her round of rabies shots from the bat incident? Uuggh! I digress…art, Grace’s art shows an intense appreciation for detail that only the artist can appreciate, while she really doesn’t appreciate being told to stay in the lines.
A new day. A new redemption. To my right in church today, Paul was picking at his nails. To my left, Grace was drawing on her hand. I reached over to hold Paul’s hand so he would stop, and then I put my other hand on Grace’s arm so she could draw on me.
She covered some of my wrinkles with her doodling. I leaned over and told her I wasn’t going to look until she was finished. I listened to the sermon about David’s sins and God’s loving mercy and just felt her pen on my skin. It moved in purposeless random and abandon as though she wasn’t even thinking. But then she would lift it and move it from right to left and back and forth for single-minded symmetry.
It’s just doodles and it doesn’t showcase her talent. But it’s more redemption for this Mommie’s heart. These marks on skin, intended, on purpose, and deliberate are no different in some ways than her cutting herself. But it’s completely different. These marks will wash off me and I’ll have to look at the picture to remember. Her scars will fade, but not completely, and I can’t forget. I gave my hand to Grace as a willing canvas. But her hips and side and thighs and arms someday will resent their marks and shame will show up.
Isn’t that the way? Just as the scars are fading, shame comes along to remind us. I won’t have it. Well, not that I have any control over Grace and her potential for shame. But I know The One who does.
I wondered if I was wasting the sermon today while I was feeling the pen trace its path on my skin. I’m so easily distracted in church, but not out of disinterest. I’ve learned that God sometimes wants me to pay attention to more than just the sound of a pastor’s words. There’s that angel in the rafters. And a college student wiping away a tear a few rows ahead. And the too-young-widow who has found new love to make her smile. And a man who can’t believe I love him anyway to my right. And a self harmer to my left. And there I am. I am. I am worshipping the same God who redeemed David from backstabbing selfishness in Psalm 51, not because David was good enough, but because it’s just who God is. The I AM.
So today I turned my puzzle bracelet around to the other side. It now says “AWESOME.” The whole thing is turned around. It’s the back of my hand instead of the wrist. It’s this side of the puzzle and not the other. It’s a pleasure without pain.
I’m in the hammock with arguing girls and a soft breeze just thankful now for another sign of God’s redemption.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 ESV)