My prayer for you, my daughters.

My husband and I have begun to look at houses. In that process, the subject of children has played a central part. Can we raise kids here? Would we be able to stay here and grow as a family for a long time if necessary? Is this a safe neighborhood for kids? Is it on a cul de sac so that our kids can play in the driveway and not have as much risk of being hit by a car? These are all things that didn’t even cross our mind when we picked an apartment. I mean, they may have, but they were much less prominent factors in our choice. But there’s something different about a house. There’s something familial and comforting and special about a house, because a house, unlike an apartment (most of the time), is going to be your home. It’s much less temporary.

In discussing all of these considerations for what we want in a home, the subject took a turn to what we want for our kids, not just for the house they will live and grow in. We talked about some kids that we love, and some kids that we can’t stand, and how we grew up, and how our parents raised us, and this eventually led to things that we do or do not want our kids to be. I know that parents can’t control all of this, but they most certainly play a role. This train of thought eventually got me thinking about daughters, probably because I’m a woman and I know what its like to grow up as a girl. And so these are the things that I want my daughters to know as they grow older.

  1. You can like baseball, and lipstick. I want you, my daughters, to know that there’s no such thing as “too girly” or “too boyish” and that whatever your likes or dislikes or interests or passions, I will support those passions. You can love math and art. You can love creative writing and engineering. You can love rugby (which will probably scare me half to death at some point watching you play, but I will watch your games), and you can also love fashion design simultaneously. And that’s okay, even if other people call it weird. It’s fine. Because I want nothing less for you than for you to freely express your interests.
  2. You are strong. I want you, my daughters, to grow up knowing strong women so that you know you can be a strong woman. And I want to be a strong woman for you. The world most certainly needs strong men, but it also needs strong women. Whether those women are being strong while standing by their man or strong while being single, the world needs more of that because women are awesome and you have so much to contribute to the world around you. And don’t ever let the world tell you that you cannot be simultaneously strong and have a man that you support. For some reason, it is a common belief that if a woman marries then she “needs” her man. But you can be strong and single, or you can be strong and married. I know women from both categories and they are all amazing. Neither one of those options diminishes you in any way.
  3. You are also fragile. It is okay to show vulnerability. I also want you, my daughters, to understand that being strong means recognizing your own human fragility. You are absolutely not fragile because you are girls. You are fragile because you are human, and there are things in this world that hurt all of us, and cut deeply, and leave scars. Those hurts, even though they were painful, are something that it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to express emotion and it’s perfectly okay to have been hurt by things and to be open about it. It is a temptation to let the scars harden us, to let our hearts grow cold and uninviting because for our hearts to be open is to expose them to potential threats. But the truth is that to love at all, you must be vulnerable. And a life without love is not worth living.
  4. Apologize. There will be many times throughout your life when you are not the subject of hurt, but the inflicter. It’s part of being a person. You will hurt people. It is important to know this, and to be humble enough to apologize. Recognize when you’ve hurt someone, and recognize when you are in the wrong. It will happen. And sometimes an apology is all it takes. Other times, the damage is just not able to be repaired. And that hurts. But an apology may allow you to forgive yourself, and allow the other person to forgive you. Do not buy into the idea that anything and everything you do is “just who you are.” We are our choices, and it is never too late to choose to recognize your own fault and say you’re sorry.
  5. Forgive. In addition to forgiving yourself, it is necessary to forgive others. The inability to forgive will only ever result in more pain. The inability to forgive only brings bondage, but forgiveness brings freedom. Holding a grudge is like carrying a heavy load that someone else gave to you, perhaps unknowingly. It’s not necessary to keep carrying it. Forgiveness is dropping that burden and continuing to walk forward, and not looking back at that burden lying on the road behind you.

And lastly, I want you to know why any of these things that I pray for you are possible. Your strength is not your own. Your likes and dislikes and passions and desires reflect someone else’s. You are able to forgive and to love and to be anything at all for one reason. And it is because of Jesus. Because he created you, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14). All of who you are is wonderful. Because he is strong, you are strong, if he lives in you. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength because in our weakness, he is strong (Phil. 4:13, 2 Cor. 12:9). You can forgive because he forgave us first (Col. 3:13). All of this is only through him. And so that is my prayer for you, that he would live in you, and that you would first and foremost be his daughters and not mine.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@mrsalenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

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To the girl that I saw in the Target bathroom.

Dear stranger,

I don’t know your name, or your age. I don’t know anything about your family, or where you come from or where you go to school, or even if you go to school. I don’t know if you have a boyfriend, or whether or not you drink, or if you’re in a sorority. I don’t know your thoughts, your passions, your fears, or your life.

I do not know you.

But there are some things that I do know.

I know it was a Friday, because I didn’t have to be at work until 10am.

I know that I needed to go to Target.

I don’t know what I needed there. I can’t remember. But I do remember you.

I know that you’re pregnant (I hope that you still are). I know this because you were in front of me at the checkout. You only had one item. It was the test. Probably the scariest test you will ever have to take. You walked straight to the bathroom, which was where I needed to go too. I sat in the stall next to you. You were on the phone. I heard you talking, maybe to a best friend, or your boyfriend, or your mom. Then I heard silence.

I knew that silence.

I heard you say, “This one is saying the same thing, it’s positive too.” And I knew you’d probably taken six tests already, praying that one of them was negative.

You didn’t look much older than I am now. Maybe you’re younger. I don’t know.

I knew the dead-pan tone in your voice. It was the same tone that I had when I told my best friend in high school, “I think I’m pregnant.”

I will be honest. I stood there in the bathroom for a good two minutes, hoping that maybe you would come out and I could say something to you. Maybe tell you that your life is not over, and give you contacts for people who would help you. I wanted to tell you it would all be okay, and to tell you that I know where you are right now. It really doesn’t seem like a great place to be, and I know that. It’s scary, and it seems so awful, and I know that too. And maybe I could just hug you if that’s what you needed.

But you didn’t come out, and I realized that maybe all of that would be a little creepy and a little overwhelming coming from a total stranger. I know…

But there are some things that I would also like you to know.

I want you to know that I got to my car and I cried. I bawled. I couldn’t stop the tears. I kept wiping them away so I wouldn’t go into work with red, puffy eyes. I cried because I know the feeling of sitting in a bathroom stall, holding that stick and watching the plus-sign appear. I know the paralyzing fear and the doubt and the anxiety. I know the feeling of suddenly not knowing where your life is going now, not knowing your options, and not knowing where to turn or who can help you.

I want you to know that I cried because I knew that you had (have?) two options. I cried because those two options are life and death. And I know that 4,000 mothers per day do not choose life.

I want you to know that while I cried in my car before going to work, I also prayed. I prayed that you would keep your baby. I prayed that fear would not drive you to something you didn’t really want. I prayed that you had supportive and encouraging friends in your life who would build you up and stand by you when you needed those kinds of friends the most (I had a couple of those, and they were life savers). I prayed that you would find comfort and peace, and even joy.

I prayed that you would hear your baby’s heartbeat. Did you know that a baby’s heart is beating at 180 beats per minute when the baby is just 10 weeks old? Did you know that your baby may have already had fingers?

But mostly, I prayed that no matter what you chose, that God would use this event the way he used mine for me. I prayed that he would use any decision that you made to bring you closer to him. Because he can do that. He can literally use anything. He promises that he will work all things for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). I prayed that he would use anything and everything going on in your life at that moment to push you into him in a way that you’d never experienced before, and that you would feel his love, and feel that he wants you and loves you and cherishes you, and cherishes the baby that he placed in your care. I prayed that you would be pushed into him so hard, that there would be no way for you not to know these things.

And I still pray for you. I want you to know that I care, and that I love you, even if I don’t know you. I want you to know that, in a way, I do know you because I have been where you are. And I love and care about you. Every time I think about you, I also pray for you. Because that’s what I wished people were doing for me when I was in your shoes, but too often I was met with ridicule and derision where there should have been love. And I want you to be met with love. But I know that too many people will look at the ring finger on your left hand, and they will judge you for the lack of a ring. And so I want to be one of the people who meets you with love, even if I never actually meet you. Because Jesus would meet you with love, and that’s the lead I’m following.

Sincerely,

A Stranger

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

11 things I’d tell younger me.

Last night at work, one of my coworkers whom is several years younger than me jokingly asked, “So in your old age, what’s some life advice you’d give your younger self?” And I laughed and told her something along the lines of “boys have cooties.” And didn’t take it too seriously. But today I’ve been thinking about that question, and here’s a more serious answer:

1) You are beautiful, loved, and cherished. It’s true. It sounds cliche, but you might not hear it often enough from the people that matter most to you. People are bad at showing love. They are bad at saying it. But don’t take this to mean that they don’t feel that way, especially your family. I guarantee they do love you very much, no matter how rough your relationship with them has been.

2) You do not need sex to verify your worth. You are precious. You are amazing. Don’t ever hinge your worth on some boy’s attraction to you. You are inherently valuable as a human being, an individual with thoughts and feelings. Don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise. If he belittles you, walk away; if he insults you, walk away; if he manipulates you, walk away; if he is disrespectful of you, walk away. You will not make him change by being with him. The only thing that does is tell him he’s doing something right. After all, you’re still there.

30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” -Proverbs 31:30

3) Sex outside of a committed marriage is destructive. Save yourself. Value your purity. And if a boy does not value your purity as well, run. He will destroy your heart. And this man will come to you many, many times in different bodies, many times claiming to be a man of God. And he will give you “godly” reasons why what he’s doing is okay. Run. Run fast, run hard, and don’t look back. Sexual temptation is the only temptation in the Bible that we are told not to fight, but to flee. It’s because you cannot fight it. And God knows that. Have discernment. Sex says, “You are mine and I am yours, surely and irrevocably.” This is not true in the case of dating relationships. Outside of a marriage, you and your partner are not giving but recieving. You are receiving pleasure, not giving of yourself to make the other person happy. It is not selfless, it is selfish. It is not love of another, it is self love. And this will destroy you later in life when you have memories of so many others while you’re with the one you truly love, who truly loves you, once you see and experience what true love is, and realize that you were giving pieces of your heart to people you did not share this with. The Song of Solomon shows us a godly, loving relationship (and yes, there’s lots of sex).

4) Don’t ever make your joy or your worth contingent on a boy. I know this is somewhat redundant, but it is worth repeating. A boy should never be the determining factor of your joyfulness. If he is, your joy will be ever fleeting and running from you. You will never be happy. Humans will disappoint over and over and over and over. They will hurt you, especially the ones who love you, but it’s still worth loving them. They will let you down, but it’s still worth trusting them. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Your worth is in Jesus. He chose you.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” -John 15:16

And a related video that I find incredibly amusing, so here it is:

5) Love. They say you must love yourself before you can love others. I think it’s the other way around. You must learn to love others before you can learn to love at all. True love is self-sacrificing and self-denying. True love is being hurt but still loving as hard as you can. True love is seeing yourself making hard sacrifices for another person, and doing it even though its the hardest thing you’ve ever done. But be careful, and be wise in whom you invest your love. You can’t get it back. It’s important to understand the difference between a human who makes mistakes (everybody ever), and someone who is just using you over and over again.  And then there’s the Biblical definition of love in 1 Cor. 13. Print this out, hang it on your wall, memorize it. It’s important.

6) Be confident. You may feel like your opinions and feeling don’t matter. Maybe it’s because you tell yourself that, or maybe it’s because other people have made you feel that way. It’s not true. Be confident in your opinions and your feelings. There is only one you, who thinks and feels like you do. You matter. Your thoughts matter. It’s how you’ll figure life out, through your thoughts and feelings. It’s how you express yourself. Don’t shut down your means of self-expression just because someone told you that your expressions were dumb. Find some way to get them out: write, draw, create, dance, sing. Something. It will be a life-saver, I guarantee it. You were made for a purpose that only you can accomplish by being exactly who you are.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” -Psalm 139:14

7) On the same note, be humble. Realize that you don’t know everything, and neither does anyone else. You can’t. You never will. Realize that some people are older and wiser, and their advice is worth listening to. You don’t have to take it as law, but at least listen. You’ll be surprised what you can learn (yes, even from your parents). Never stop learning. The day you stop learning is the day you begin to wither away. Be open to new lessons in life, even from people you may disagree with. Listening will never cost you anything but a couple of minutes.

“But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.'” -James 4:6

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” -Philippians 2:3-11

8) Be careful what you say and how you react. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger. What you say can never be revoked. Be a good listener. Hear what people are saying before you try to respond. Hear what they’re saying before you try to fix their problems, and realize that the listening is sometimes all they need (also a big hug). This will make you a good friend, and it will make you somebody that people trust. It will also be difficult to bear the burdens of others, because they will want to lay them on you. Make sure that you don’t cause yourself to suffocate under the weight of the world, because Jesus has already done that for us. Point people back to him. People will make you angry, and people will insult you in your life. But don’t take it personally. They are probably just taking out their frustrations on you in an unfair way. The meanest people are usually the ones who are hurting the most.

“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult.” -Proverbs 12:16

9) The sun always comes back out. No matter what you are going through right now, no matter what storm you face, the clouds will part and the sun will come back. Remember that constant sunshine makes a desert. It takes the combination of rain and sun, night and day, to make things grow. Even plants don’t photosynthesize and grow in the same light where they collected their energy. They do it at night.

33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

“Whenever there is a cross to be carried by any of Christ’s followers, He always bears the heavy end on His own shoulders.” -C.S. Spurgeon

10) Absolutely nothing that you ever do will ever be beyond the unfathomable grace of your heavenly Father. Sometimes you make mistakes. Okay, you’ll make lots of them. And some people are going to either tell you or make you feel that those mistakes are unforgivable. But that’s absolutely not true. Jesus died on a cross for you, bloodily and horribly, and according to the book of John, you were the last thing on his mind as he died there. And then the (other) amazing part that all of Christianity is contingent upon, he rose again. Death did not keep him in the grave. It didn’t slay him. Sin was slain, Jesus was not. And he did it for you, and God’s wrath was brought down upon Jesus so that you could be one of God’s children.

“When God laid sin upon Christ it must have been in the intent of his heart that he would never lay it on those for whom Christ died.” -C.S. Spurgeon

11) Trust in God. He knows you better than anybody. Trust that he knows you, loves you, cares for you, and cherishes you, even enough to send his son to the cross to die for your transgressions, for your broken, sinful heart, so that it could be made new, be healed, and become whole in him. He has a plan, but we may never know the full extent of it until we see him face to face. Maybe not even then. That sounds discouraging, but it’s not. It means that ultimately, the responsibility for everything is his. There’s no need for you to control everything, and when life is out of control (as it so often is) he’s still controlling it. Be responsible, and be wise, but depend on him. And never forget to prayPrayers do get answered. He does hear them. He cares about every single one of your cares, worries, burdens, trials, and your happiness, joys, and smiles. He sees them all and he cares. Never forget that, even through all of the shitty things you’ll experience, up until the point that you’re writing this to yourself.

Alena Rivas is a college student from Tucson, Arizona. She has been married since August, 2013. She and her husband don’t have kids yet, but they hope to once she graduates! Alena writes about life, love, loss, and God. She works to incorporate her own experiences in such a way as to inspire others and encourage people to think about things in new ways. If you like her writing and want to keep up with it better or just want to have access to her awesome witticisms that may not always end up in blog posts, you can find her on Facebook (facebook.com/authoralenarivas), Twitter (@MrsAlenaeous), and Google+ (Alena Rivas).

I need to lose an electron…

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. -Philippians 4:4

In other words, I’m negative. If you don’t get it, don’t worry. I’ll be nice and translate my nerd-speak: I am coming to the conclusion that I am an extremely negative person. I am only recently learning how that affects me and my relationships with others, specifically this relationship I’m about to enter called “marriage.”

Attitude is extremely important. It can make or break you and your spouse. Your circumstances will only bring you down if you let them bring you down. We are all basically positive or basically negative people.

I am currently reading Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts: Seven Questions to Ask Before — and After — You Marry by Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott. One story in the book involves Les (the husband) feeling extremely negative toward their neighbors. They and their neighbors shared some traits. For example, they were all in grad school, all of them were living in the same apartment building, and they were both newly-wed couples. They were basically the same except that their neighbor couple seemed to get all the breaks. Nice car, nice clothes because of discounts, job opportunities, everything just seemed to fall into place for them. So Les (husband) got extremely negative about his own circumstances, and this caused him to become irritable with his wife. Every little thing she did would annoy him. Or rather, to paraphrase his own words, he allowed it to annoy him. Then the answer came to him in a statistics class (see, it can be good for something other than torturing students). He was frustrated even with his computer when his teacher asked what was wrong. The resulting conversation led to this:

[A] computer takes an iota of data and gives it a positive…or negative electrical impulse and stores it. After that, the computer simply recalls the information from its memory and combines it in new ways. Then he said, ‘It basically works like a human brain…Our brains are programmed much like a computer. Just before we put any sound, sight, smell, taste, touch, or intuition into our mental computers, we stamp it ‘positive’ or ‘negative.’ Then we store the sensation in our brains, and it permanently stays there. That’s why you can’t always remember a person’s name, but you can always remember how you felt about them…Unlike computers, however, humans develop a habit of programming their minds to be either mostly negative or mostly positive.

Upon doing the exercise for this part of the book, which included writing down your “self-talk” (the way you talk about yourself), I realized that much of the way that I perceive things is negative. Some of my top bad-mood-putter-inners were:

  1. Not being on time, or when someone else is late.
  2. People around me being nasty to each other or to me.
  3. Envying what others have when it is something that I cannot seem to obtain (I’m the big green monster, it turns out).

These are all huge problems for me. As I thought about it, I realized that I also become negative and moody and mean toward TJ (my fiancee) when I am in these funks. It’s really not because of anything he’s doing. It’s that I’m allowing what he is doing to annoy or upset me because of these negative feelings that I am harboring over issues that probably have nothing to do with him at all. So you can see, I’m sure, how in the long run this could break down a marriage if it’s not addressed.

So the next part of the exercise was to write down what you are telling yourself that makes you feel so terrible. I said:

  1. “I deserve their punctuality/People will think badly of me if I’m late.”
  2. “What did I do to them to deserve that meanness?”
  3. “They get everything. I can’t have anything. Why am I so unlucky? I must be a loser.”

This is where I started seeing the negativity I’ve been feeding myself… I used to think that I was an incredibly positive person, but that just shows the separate issue of an inflated ego. I totally thought I was more positive than all y’all. So the next part was to write down three alternative statements that would not lead to feeling so bad.

  1. “People are late sometimes. Nobody is perfect. It will not make a difference in the grand scheme of things.”
  2. “They don’t owe me a good attitude. I am not entitled to their kindness. Be kind to them anyway.”
  3. “I am incredibly blessed to have what I do. God is all I need, and He always provides.”

So basically, the point is that we have a choice in whether or not we are happily married. It’s not something that just happens, or whatever. It’s something that we actually have to choose and work for. By the grace of God, we can do it. There will be days when we screw up and start telling ourselves that “I’d be happier if…” but that’s a lie. Our happiness does not come from our circumstances. Bad things happen and we may have sad or depressing seasons, but ultimately our overall attitudes are up to us.

I would strongly encourage you to try this exercise. Write down three situations that get you all grumped-up. Then write down what you are typically telling yourself when you’re in those situations that feeds the grumpiness. Then write down your own 3 alternative statements to help turn around the terrible feelings. Then start talking to yourself that way. Feel free to share. What were your situations, thoughts, and alternative statements? Are you a basically negative person, or a basically positive person? Could you stand to lose an electron? 😉

Reason v. intuition

I was recently reading an article from the website Reasons to Believe. It was about people’s intuitive feelings, specifically regarding Darwin’s theory of biological evolution. It turns out that most people have an innate, intuitive, or “gut,” feeling that this theory is not sufficient to explain the existence, diversity, and complexity of life on earth. However, we are often told to “logic away” these feelings, because we’re taught that conclusions derived from intuitive feelings are inferior to conclusions derived from what we’d like to think is reason, and/or logic.

In part one of this series of articles, the author, Roger Bennet, explains that 124 students in biology-teacher preparation programs at two universities in Korea were interviewed. It turns out that, after being asked pertinent questions, the biggest resistance to biological evolution came from a “gut feeling.” Despite being educated on the subject of evolution and being prepared to teach it, these students had a purely intuitive gut feeling that it was not an adequate explanation. But you’d never hear that taught in school, would you? In fact, these students were even set up with courses in which they were basically taught to “reason” away these gut feelings, because reason is superior to gut instincts. All of this despite the fact that (also according to Roger Bennett’s article), our acceptance of things that we learn is based on both reason and whether or not the information “feels” correct. As stated by Dr. Fazale Rana:

“Within neuroscience, there is this recognition that . . . there are two components to understanding a phenomenon. One is knowledge and the other is an intuitive feeling of certainty as to whether or not that knowledge is indeed correct.”

So we’re using intuition to arrive at conclusions every time we take in new information. And yet we’re told that intuition is inferior, and that we should not use it to make decisions, that we should suppress it because reason is better. Hmm…does that feel correct?

Furthermore, what we promote as “logic” in our culture really isn’t true logic at all. It’s actually more along the lines of selectively accepting or rejecting things that, respectively, support or do not support our preconceived beliefs. People are unwilling to come to a conclusion that they did not form on their own. People reject proof of any other viewpoint, or simply don’t bother to look for it, and then assume that it doesn’t exist or that those other views belong only to simple-minded or ignorant people because there is “no proof.” How ironic.

Did you know that small children “generate intuitive creationist beliefs about origins?” Well they do. Why don’t we hear about children who generate intuitive naturalistic or even evolutionary beliefs? I agree with Roger Bennett when he states, ” I submit that they don’t because they (and all of us) possess the image of God and because they’ve not yet been taught to rationalize away creation’s testimony.” 

In part two of Mr. Bennett’s series, he discusses where he believes this resistance comes from: the image of God in humanity. Imago Dei (Genesis 1:26–27). During the Fall of man, this image was broken and distorted, but it was not lost completely. “His image or likeness in man enables us to be receptive to the ‘testimony’ of His existence through creation, which we see in Psalm 19:1–4, Isaiah 40:26, Romans 1:18–20, and in a number of other verses as well.”

For those of us who are saved, no evidence is needed. For those who are perishing, no evidence is possible.

The enemy of an artist.

I’ve been thinking a lot about art, whether it’s something I’d like to pursue (as in, a career), or if it’s just something that I enjoy doing. While thinking about it, I began thinking about what could cause someone to stop being an artist. I came to the conclusion that Time is an artist’s worst enemy; not because our own beauty fades, not because of vanity. But because the things you’ve been using your whole life to create are now fading away. Your hands are no longer steady, your eyes are no longer sharp, and your body may no longer be able to take long hours spent in a studio or at a desk. But your mind remains, creating invisible things, things just for you. You still see the world through an artist’s eyes. When I get too old to make things, that could be all that will keep me sane, is the ability to imagine. No matter what state your mind is in, we all imagine. Even while we sleep. We call those dreams. At the core, a true artist is someone who is good at bringing imagination to life, in one way or another, and loves to do so. They dream, not just while they’re asleep, but while they’re wide awake. That never goes away, even when the body crumbles.

So, the short answer is: nothing can stop you from being an artist. Nothing. “Artist” is a condition of the soul, not something determined by actions, or ability.

And I firmly believe that art and our desire to make things, to create is a reflection of God’s glory and His character. He, Himself, is an artist, and He’s created the most wonderful masterpiece of all time. Us. Because we are made in the image of an almighty God, who is Love. Time is not some steadily approaching doom that we all must fight, but rather is the sound of God’s heartbeat; never-ending, eternal, steady, always present.

Art is incredibly important to me, and I sometimes feel that our society is moving farther and farther from the heart of creativity, which, of course, is the Creator. He began it all. But in a world that rejects Him, I fear that we may lose the soul of our art. Art comes from a place in the heart. A place that, once filled with His holiness, has a harder and harder time creating from darkness (sanctification). Unfortunately, we live in a world that has become a cavern filled to overflowing with that darkness.

“If you want to know what is in the heart of a culture, look at its art. Read its poetry, listen to its music, and you’ll begin to know the tree from which it fell.” -M. Gungor

We are moving toward mediocrity in our artwork. At least, it seems that way to me. Many artists “sell out” and stop being original. Today, we’re fine with the idea of doing something that isn’t your dream just because it pays better, or “it’s what the people want.” What people? Your people? You? God? His people? No. The masses… a faceless mass of mediocrity.

“With auto-tune, anyone can sing ‘on pitch.’ With self-publishing anyone can be an author. But are we cultivating a culture of mediocrity? And are we robbing our art of its humanity? -Anam Cara

“Money is not the root of all kinds of evil. The love of money is. It’s also the root of a lot of bad art.” -Michael Gungor

I have to say, though, Michael Gungor is one of those amazing people who manages to retain the humanity and soul in his art. A true artist after God’s heart.