Maya Angelou said that there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. There’s a lot to unpack there. Most of us have no idea what the truth of our story is. We have not plumbed the depths of our lives. Learning to tell our story is much greater than sharing the bullet point moments of our existence. We must search our heart and allow feelings to surface. We must face those feelings through fear. First, we present the story to ourselves in an unedited, unabridged format and we must work through it. We must pour salve and healing balm on every part so that it heals us and heals others. Often, I leave out parts of what needs to be told as to not dishonor others. That’s where this starts.
I am an empath. I feel and carry other people’s emotions. Good and bad. It has taken me years to learn how to hand the things I pick up to the faithful hands of God. Sometimes, I will catch myself carrying hurts that I do not need to. The actions of a perpetrator often have nothing to do with the person they land on. This is especially true of unhealthy family members and armchair theologians. We know this is truth, but we still must deal with the pain.
I’ve been unknowingly carrying pain the past few years. I have tried to laugh off the actions of others, but in the last month I was overcome by hurt. The day before I left for Haiti (Christmas Day), I was flooded with pain because of someone close to me. I spent quite a bit of my day in tears. I would even catch myself tearing up the first few days of the trip. This made me keep flashing back to a distinct impression I felt in my spirit when I was reading my Bible one afternoon in December. “Maybe you’re going to Haiti to bury your dead.” Dead thoughts, relationships, emotions.
On our 6 a.m. flight to Atlanta on December 26th, I read through a few ebooks for creatives by Alabaster Co. The words of those books pounded a resonant drum beat in my spirit. Those words were for me. God was speaking to me about the need for death to come in order to experience new life. Life requires death. Blooms must fall for seeds to come.
On the evening of the first day of our women’s conference, we did some prayer painting. We would paint with our hands while listening to worship music. We would rotate our painting with each song through 4 songs. One of the lines in the book I read on the plane kept resonating in my head, “When you get there remember you were carried by the Holy Spirit.”
I began with a horizontal painting of several colors of blue to form a sky that gave me peace. I then rotated to a vertical direction and added deep red coming up from the bottom and dragging it into the sky. Fire. I could feel this throbbing need to burn up old things. We rotated our painting horizontal again and I realized that I did not have the colors that I needed so I started grabbing colors from other people. I knew that I was going to need new tools for the journey I am on. As I did that, I created a bloom that spoke to me about the seeds that would come when the flower dies. Lastly, as I rotated the painting vertically, I saw the beginnings of a butterfly, “papillon” in Haitian Creole. That whole death to life theme kept speaking to me as I added gold to its wings and prayed for the glory of God to come and rest on my story.
Every single place we went to in Haiti, from the mountains, through the slums, and around the trash I would see a butterfly. As I stare into the face of the impossible, I am remembering that hope can come to rest anywhere. This gave me my word for 2019. Papillon. I will pray to focus on the resurrection and know that death brings life.
“This may be why Jesus tells his disciples that, “unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” We must have courage to face that kind of dying, and in that death, embrace a limitless kind of living. There are the seeds of many creative dreams inside of us, if only we have the humility to let them emerge.” -Alabaster Co.
"The first step to connection is departure." -Delta Flight Attendant