The Matchbook Diaries


Punch Drunk Love

Risk is frightening because you are standing on the air and you have to put your foot down and you have to believe that when you do put your foot down, you won’t die or otherwise commit a catastrophic error.  When I am drawing I am often in that state of suspended self reliance when I can do nothing more than hope God will complete the vacancy between what I am able to build and what I insist it is possible to build.  I can, because God made me an artist, usually see things.  I can see what a thing is before it looks like what I can see inside of it, in its soul.  But to make that vision real is hard.  Faith is the willingness to submit to risk in an effort to get to where I want to go.  Then afterwards I am tired, but the result is spectacular.  I get the beauty for which I went searching.

In the Gospels, there is a lot of teaching about turning the other cheek and letting someone whose intent it is to steal from you allow that person to do so unimpeded.    In order to be that tough, you’ve got to have untaken a supreme amount of risk and learnt that indeed there is God who actually wishes to divest its own power and shed it to you.  Then when people hate you for knowing you are special (and not knowing that they also are special), then, you can take that hate.  The more exceptional you are, the more hate you attract.  You have to be big enough, strong enough, to absorb the attacks that will come or be cast backwards into your former prison of cowering self hatred.

There is zero, in Christian faith, zero need to suffer for the sake of suffering.  That’s an absurd idea that does nothing but jack off the ego.  When I see someone proudly fasting or giving when they are empty, I am sad because they are so far from what is real and true.  Similarly, to suffer in order to earn, to hammer yourself into moral superiority is both ridiculous and obscene.  God has made us perfectly; we can’t improve ourselves.  We have to be, to learn and to rejoice in what we are made to be.  Any god who demanded a painful remodel of who we are would not be a loving entity.  But there is regular need to endure, to persevere in the face of sheer terror, to insist that you will persist.

In addition, that liberty you feel when you know that you are truly free gives you the strength to trust in God as God works in another person.  Which means I don’t meddle, oversee, judge, set deadlines for, or otherwise override the holy process of liberty unfolding in my child or my husband or my friend.  The wider my liberty, the wider the circle of freedom I can extend, which then frees up the people I love most from my bullshit, my not-so-benevolent dictatorship.  There’s a God, and it’s not me.

The part of drawing that’s just fun is the clean up part, when the heroic risks, the terrible, fierce secret moments are all behind me and I get to polish and admire and perfect when is now alive in front of me.  Whatever gaps there were in my ability, and I know those are substantial, I don’t see those afterwards because something perfect completes my work, something perfect steps in, and purely for love, makes whole what I cannot.  This continual, intimate gift is what grace means for me.  God is invested in that which I love, invested and down for the whole thing, no matter how dirty and small, no matter how hard. To know this is to feel like a god, to feel like the child of God that I am: beloved, human, and loved, infinitely and without condition.