Friday, July 19, 2013

I Was Afraid and So I Hid

"I Was Afraid and So I Hid"  Mixed Media Collage Painting by Crystal Neubauer


The fifth of July found me waking to this feeling of deep gratitude for the place I am in after an evening spent in our neighbor’s backyard watching the profusely abundant, if not wasteful, display of fireworks being lit all around the lake.

A thick cloud of acidy smoke hung in the air and over the water, as if a mist on a chilly fall morning. Cars lined the narrow street, with every backyard, and the neighborhood park- smaller than a postage stamp itself- filled with celebration and revelry. Jarring explosives shook the ground sending thundering like tremors echoing across the water between the smaller cracks and pops of the legal variety of fireworks. I sat soaking it all in, fingers stuffed in my ears, among old friends and new, feeling at once connected to those around me and yet oddly detached from it all; a spectator from another country not quite certain how I came to arrive at this moment.

To observe my life from the outside, I imagine, would be less than impressive. Especially to the semi-close observer, those old friends and acquaintances who know just how broken and messy it's been. But I am in awe of the transformation I've seen in my husband and that in which I know has taken place inside of me. I think back to a day I sat bemoaning life to my wise counselor, and questioning my commitment to my marriage for the lack of physical evidence that anything solid or trustworthy was happening, "God is working an inside out change" she assured me.

At that time it was less than comforting to hear, but today I understand it to be different than the type of change that is equivalent to a band-aid being slapped on an infected wound. When change begins on the inside you can trust the thing to be healed.
"I Was Afraid and So I Hid"  Mixed Media Collage Painting by Crystal Neubauer
For so many years, decades really, I spun my wheels trying to make what I wanted to happen in life happen in order to have the peace and security I craved, but it always seemed to elude me. It was this thing that was as tangibly visible yet, as hard to hang on to as that cloud of smoke that hung across the water last night. A Pandora’s Box of voices cried out in the dark recesses of my mind wreaking havoc on my physical and emotional well being, anxiety swelling each time I peeked inside; "you're not good enough! You never do it right! You are a fool to think you can ever be (have, do) what you dream of!” they cried.

Those twelve steppers are on to something with their declarations of being powerless to change. How easy it is to see the need to say these words in the face of a true addiction, but for those of us who aren't feeding our insatiably hungry wounds with drugs or alcohol it is harder to recognize the addictive nature of the false self. Not feeling good enough? “Run! Hide!” it says.

“Fake it till you make it” is a good remedy if making it means trying to fool everyone into believing you have it all together, all-the-while living in constant anxiety of being found out for the imposter you know yourself to be.

Those people at the academy awards who upon receiving the coveted gold statue, I wonder if they know how profoundly they speak? "I'd like to thank God…” Yes. Yes, I would. I’d like to thank God for bringing me to a place where I was finally able to see the beauty of powerlessness and His willingness to do what I was never meant to on my own. 
I Was Afraid and So I Hid"  Mixed Media Collage Painting by Crystal Neubauer
 I imagine I learned the words “I can do it myself!” pretty early in life. They served me well when it came to tying my shoe or putting on my pajamas as a child. But what was intended to be the cry of a toddler bent on learning basic life skills, wound its way into my belief system so tightly it became a strangling mantra. It’s kind of hard for God to steer the thing when you’ve got a death grip on the wheel.

How sweet a lesson it is to learn just how capable He really is at handling it all. It’s the little things, more than anything, that set me back on my heels and reminds me how different life has become. There is a savory sweetness on the tip of my tongue upon waking after an evening spent with family and friends when I no longer feel the need to hide behind self-control. I am not perfect and that is okay. I’m learning that I am loved and loveable anyway.

And I’m learning to replace those words of stubborn independence, the old mantra, with a new prayer: “Lord, apart from you I can do nothing. I am laying this issue down at your feet and I thank-you that you have taken it.”

"He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” ~Genesis 3:10

8 comments:

  1. Wow. I think we might have been separated from the same litter at some point. Other than the fact that you are an uber-talented mixed media artist & I'm an IT Project Manager that dabbles in beading, that is.

    I learned (am learning) these lessons as a 12-stepper. So kudos to you for having found them without the nasty addiction stuff. Giving up control, seeing yourself as the people who love you see you, and letting God take the wheel - which has been very difficult for this stubborn/perfectionist/control freak - seems to be my path to that oh-so-amazing serenity that I've sought my whole life.

    I stumbled onto your blog from another blog - and I'm so glad that I did. I could go on & on with how much your post resonated with me. But since I've already rambled too much, I'll just say that your words landed on someone in St. Louis who needed to hear them.

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    1. Anne thanks so much for stumbling on my blog and rambling. It is much needed affirmation when I put my heart on my sleeve and stand in this vulnerable place. I can honestly say I've been a hairs breath away from that nasty addiction stuff and have seen it ravage many many people I love and hold dearly, so even more kudos to you for finding your way through it. Keep on keeping on. It does work if you allow Him to work it!

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  2. Congratulations, Crystal, on this gorgeous piece and even more on the transformations it represents. I can identify with everything you said about "I was afraid and so I hid." I've been in that place, and in some ways am still hiding. I'm so happy for you- it takes great courage, and much time, to work through this. Your art always inspires me!

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    1. Thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement Sharmon!

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  3. Wow! Interesting time, to start reading a blog!
    Oswald Chambers says...paraphrased...after surrender what? The whole of life is about unbroken communication with God.
    That's between ourselves and Him.
    No one else.
    In the end, it's still true.
    Work on, sister. You're well on your way:)
    Laura R. 1-08 :)

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    1. Thanks for stopping by the blog and taking the time to comment Laura!

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  4. Oh my, this is powerful

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    1. Thanks for reading dear Amanda!

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