Thursday, August 07, 2008

Embracing The Mess

As mentioned in the previous post, I've done some re-organizing in the studio this summer. Ever since I moved into this space I've had piles on the floor and piles on various surfaces that have just never made their way into a permanent location.

Finally, with the determined pace of a migratory snail, I managed to get every last pile picked up off the floor and into a semi-satisfying arrangement and I could officially call my studio clean. Of course there are plenty of things still on my to-do list to further organize my space, but for the first time in a long time it had the appearance of being clean.

And there it stood.

I could envision myself creating wonderful works of art in this freshly organized space. I could see myself creating my next masterpiece in my minds eye and knew just what the process would be to bring it to fruition.

But I couldn't seem to get started.

Something about the appearance of order in what had once been so much chaos begged not to be disturbed. The work it had taken to get it to this point had been exhausting, time-consuming, and seemed like such a waste of effort if I was just going to turn around and mess it all up again. I should leave well enough alone and maybe take up gardening instead.

Not wanting to deal with the mess was nearly crippling any progress I wanted to make as an artist and one morning I woke up and knew I had to overcome this.

I had to accept that it was going to get messy.

I brought out a stack of blank canvases that I found at an artists estate sale earlier in the summer and laid them out one by one.

To get over the intimidation of the blank canvases staring up at me I quickly coated each one with a layer of leftover house paint. This process seemed to release me and soon I was having fun pulling out scraps and papers from my collage bin and throwing them around the work table imagining what each one would be.

I was embracing the mess.

The process itself became somewhat therapeutic and, as is so often the case when I am in the midst of creating, I felt my Creator begin to talk to me. He whispered words of encouragement and spoke to me of the similarities between my reluctance to stir up the mess in my studio again and my reluctance to stir up the mess in my life again.

He began to show me how the mess had a purpose. That looking beyond the individual pieces or set of circumstances, one could see a complete work of art coming together. Something beautiful that would not have come about any other way.

Over the past few years the foundation of my life had been shaken to the core, to say the least. I've written before of how the hardships my husband and I endured as a result of his being laid off from his job, and my subsequent return to the work place full time, started bringing many issues not being dealt with to a head in our lives. Just when we felt that things were settling down and I would declare that we had been delivered through the storm, we would get shaken again.

And again. And again. And again.

We dealt with the job loss and ultimately the loss of our home as the mortgage crisis began to take it's toll on our country, so many individuals with stories not unlike our own. We have each dealt with major health issues and the health issues of many loved ones. Car issues, appliance issues, heaters breaking, child issues, on and on and on.
On a personal level all this shaking began to take a toll and we separated for a time. And finally we brought our lives back together and began to build from the mess it had been, picking up pieces from the pile and finding a place to put them and appreciating how things are so much better now.

And there I stood.

Something about the appearance of order in what had once been so much chaos begged not to be disturbed. The work it had taken to get to this point had been exhausting, time-consuming, and seemed like such a waste of effort if I was just going to turn around and mess it all up again.
I should leave well enough alone and maybe take up gardening instead.

But I hear God whispering once again. My creation isn't finished. There are things that I still need to do. Things I still want you to face and overcome. You still need to heal. There are wounds, messes, from so long ago that you keep pushing away. The mess had a purpose and it isn't finished yet.

I know He is right. Not dealing with the mess is nearly crippling me as a person. I cling to the appearance of order. I'm avoiding people, projects, events, many things in life that I loved and cherished just to avoid making another mess.

I know I have to overcome this.

I have to accept that it is going to get messy.

I finally made that appointment with a counselor. It was a long time in coming. I met with her yesterday and God was faithful to meet me there as well. I felt something inside of me being released. A fresh washing of tears. A girl waiting to be seen by her Daddy.

I know it won't be easy but I am excited at the possibilities, the outcome, the finished creation, imagining what it will be. Something beautiful that cannot come about any other way.

I am embracing the mess.


  1. Cindy Forrester9:58 PM

    Hi Crystal,

    Wow it's touching that you can lay the truth out there for everyone to read. I don't know that I could be brave enough to do that. I mostly keeps things tightly to myself, it is a bit hard to trust sometimes...I can totally relate though because I also have known deep heartbreaking pain. I can tell you that you are correct in knowing that God is still working on you to become who you are meant to be. That is something that I remind myself of daily and I am totally amazed that out of that darkness his light still shines.

    xoxo Cindy

  2. Thanks for inspiring me!! I must, I must, I must embrace the mess.

    have a terrific weekend.

  3. Crystal, as I read your blog for the first time in a long while (we had financial difficulties this spring that in the end has re-prioritized many things, including the internet's role in my life--but that's a much longer story) I am also listening to our pastor teach about Joseph at the time he was brought before Pharoah and what God does in our lives through difficulties. If it's any encouragement I am thinking about the great things that God is preparing you for through such hard times. I am sorry to see what you have had to go through, but know that God's ways are not our ways. Thank you for sharing your soul as you so often do--it reminds us to always look to Him. You always look back to God and give Him glory and the world sees it. He will bless that--even if it's not in this moment or in this life.

    On a different note, I was intrigued to read how seeing your studio in order is a creativity block, although I understand from your explanation. I have found that cleaning my space has the opposite effect--it always makes me want to jump right in and mess it up again. Maybe I need to make a habit of being tidier--just for the inspiration it gives me.

    God's blessings to you through everything. --LaRinda :-)

  4. Crystal -

    First I wanted to say hello - I love your work, and I have put a link to your blog on my own. Thank you for your beautiful artful eye!

    I wanted to thank you for this post. You are at the start of an amazing road that will take you to places you cannot even imagine right now. Keep turning to God throughout this process - He has a very special role for you to play, and it will be more than you would ever be able to conceive of on your own.

    :-) Molly

    1 Thessalonians 5:11

  5. Crystal, I am praying for you, and so glad you were able to come back together with your husband.
    Mess is something I don't like, and mess is what happens so often in my office/workspace. This post gave me a breath of fresh air. Thank you~

  6. I have heard the saying: The strongest metal is welded through fire. But we must survive the fires. I too am excited that you got back with your husband. It's a tough life, and it's easier to travel that road with a partner. Until one day, you find, the air is fresh, the sun is shining, and the way ahead is smooth. You've learned to let go of wanting things to be a certain way. You just let go. And on the other side is... Peace. YOu're on your way, I promise. Now go make a mess, because YOUR answers are in the mess you make. And your talent.