An Idol called Independence

This is not a post about art. It is a post about the resistance and scorn recieved when one is an artist – or any other non-monetary-focused occupation. Most musicians, missionaries, homemaking moms included!

This is not a post about conformity to present cultural standards.

This is also not a post about living a comfortable life.

It is about being like a tree, standing strong and tall in the forest of life, surrounded by the roots and helpful shade of other trees…

It is a post about becoming like a little child – dependant, expectant, full of faith and hope.

Today we face this thing, this very “in” concept – I’m even using the strong word Idol, called Independence.

But our present definition is very exclusive and I don’t believe it’s an old concept. Back one hundred years ago, we had families that lived and worked together in community. Strong and balanced. Each experiencing a blessing from the many varied talents that made up the whole.

Independence is what young people are trained to strive for today. No one wants their child to become co-dependant, no, no. We don’t want our children jobless, homeless, or any other form of “less”. We want MORE. More possessions, more esteem, more toys.

This post is about one learning to just be what I know our Father in Heaven meant me to be – an artist; a lover of beauty.

I know, beyond shadow of doubt, irregardless of my credit score or my net worth, I am a valuable member of the Body of Christ, a true gem. If sometimes an uncomely part. If sometimes poor and full of needs.

I am a woman who feels and thinks and desires to be a blessing and to experience what it means to be blessed by the King of Heaven.

I’d say this is probably one of my more controversial posts…

When I was younger, I chose not to leave home at the usual age of eighteen, to attend a university. I figured if I went and got an art degree, I’d only wind up in debt and leaving school as a graphic artist. I didn’t want to become a graphic artist, I desired to create Fine Art.

Thankfully, I had a supportive mother. She encouraged me to stay home and work hard to become a watercolor artist.

There were other important things I considered – my family was one. I felt they needed me.

So, I didn’t set out to do what was expected by society at large. I was not on the “road to success” in the world’s eyes.

I’ve been told, not exactly in those words, but close enough for me to understand, I’m still not on the road to success.

Maybe we need to try to accept and tolerate people who don’t think like others do? Maybe we can realize there are many different perspectives from which to see life?

For instance, there’s the view from the side:

and a view from above…

Is one view ‘more better’ than the other?

Some thought I was mentally not capable of leaving home. Others thought I was controlled by a parent. People will talk.

The years have passed and people still talk. People assume. People make assessments based on what they know or think they know.

Recently, I’ve been considering the idea our culture has – of everyone needing to be “Independent” of everyone else.

One is expected to leave home, graduate with a four-year degree, get a 9-5 job, make enough money to pay for your “own spot,” have your own car, and basically financially support yourself without anyone else’s help.

And don’t forget having your own phone. Horrors if you don’t. Very important, having a phone today. We can text all day and not really communicate with tone or body language to anyone.

But I’m getting waylaid, back to being “Independent”

For example: Women “don’t need men anymore” to help support them in any way – mechanical, finanicial, technical, in battle – no, they can do it all, themselves…Men don’t want a woman who is a drain on their finances. They enjoy a woman being their own island. This is a lie!

Don’t be fooled, women need you, men, just as much as they did before – and most especially, children need men in their lives, just as much as before. Men bring a different perspective.

I’m not a feminist. I can say that, because I am a woman. =)

Where did this idea of independence come from? What makes living with your parents, family or friends wrong? Does this idea contribute or detract from a healthy individual or family?

Is it because obtaining a degree and employment in the 9-5 world of status and titles infers you are more diligent and dependable? You are “working harder” than someone who doesn’t have those things? You have begun something very difficult and finished it?

Is one’s ability to make money a measuring stick for others to observe character, or for you to have self-worth?

Isn’t it God who gives us the ability to do anything? Should we not be thankful and grateful for where we are in life – poor or rich, low or high?

Does God love those who are financially and physically “independent” more than those who are financially or physically dependant on others?

 

I don’t ask these questions in anger, or because I’m trying to be flippant or annoying. I am not asking because I desire to be lazy, nor do I think society owes me a living. I’m not one for the dole.

No, I’ve worked hard my entire life, and have the biceps to prove it.

But most of my work in this life was unpaid. I volunteered my time to create many events, served on many committees and taught in many classrooms – for free.

I grew vegetables in the soil – saving money but certainly not making it. People have lived because there was someone -me- to give them care.

Persevering as an artist through the commentary of the peanut gallery has never been easy. I don’t expect this to change.

I know there is an element of tremendous disrespect for those who are not tied down to an employer. Perhaps it is really just jealousy.

Yet, not presently having an ability to provide for my own housing is not an easy or comfortable place to be.

I have considered a little of what the Word of God says on this topic of being needy, or being vulnerable, of being dependent on God and others!

So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. ~ Luke 14:33 – Doesn’t sound too independent to me…

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. ~ John 12:24 – This doesn’t sound comfortable – to begin with

He must increase, but I must decrease. ~ John 3:30 Lowly, unseen

Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. ~ James 2:5-6a I, too, have been guilty of shunning those I’ve thought were below my standard of living. God forgive me.

Hebrews 10:32-39 – all of chapter 11. Faith amidst great loss

John the Baptist must have heard an awful lot of stuff by the peanut gallery who were watching him fulfill the God-given calling on his seemingly lonely, solitary life.

I expect Jeremiah also had a lot of comments thrown his way. He wound up imprisoned for what he shared, but God righted the situation in the end, saving his life through the very wounds and banishment by his enemies.

When God gives us a calling in life, we must do it. We must fulfill it, even when we know ahead of time it doesn’t lead to our comfort, or our betterment in the eyes of the public-at-large.

And then we come to Respectability.

There is something in being “respectable” which makes us shrink from doing our Father’s will.

In order to obey God, we must lay aside what others may think of us. We must walk toward difficulties, potential imprisonment – figurative or literal. We must be willing to suffer, for a time.

And so, I am not Independent. I don’t long for it, either – to be without others’ help. I desperately need connections with simple folks. I need the humility which comes from being low, not high.

The beauty of scripture and it’s timeless simple truths is shown in the recent February 9, 2015 TIME magazine article by Joel Stein On-Demand Economy – Tales from the Sharing Economy. ‘Only 20% of people in industrialized countries disagreed with the statement, “I could happily live without most of the things I own.”‘

Christ sending our his disciples with only one coat and one staff – now that is a true minimalistic existance! These men were not independent of others – quite the opposite!

I’ve learned along this bumpy journey of being an artist, without a steady salary to depend on, why I Timothy 6:8 does not contain the word “shelter.”

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.
~ I Timothy 6:6-8

One reason is because the Body of Christ was meant to practice being radically generous. Meeting strangers and a brother’s needs.  The generosity of Acts 2:42-45

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
And perhaps even that of Acts 4:32-35:

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

God is no respecter of persons.
He doesn’t care what sort of outward garment we possess.
God cares about our hearts.
God commends the poor widow who had faith to give
God commends the women who went to the Tomb
Mary, the pregnant virgin
The repentant publican
A centurian who came to Christ to find healing for his sick servant

The “sheep” of Matthew 25, who were not seeking glory for themselves:

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:31-40

Those who are self-sufficient may have a dangerous type of blindness!

You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. ~ Revelation 3:17-18

Back when I use to teach and coach good character qualities, I loved studying Dependability – depicted by the Musk Ox. I loved looking at Christ’s dependability, how He is always there. Present. Protecting those who turn to Him for help. He will never fail to give us all we need. Our wish is the Kinsman redeemer’s command.

I don’t often share my personal journal, but here is my entry from January 22nd of this year, when I was feeling particulary under strain due to my living situation:

‘Worship in the Night

I lay awake from 2:30AM ’til 5AM…adrenaline? Thinking of the Well’s Cove Sunset. Feeling your love for me, Yah! How priceless, how much more valuable than the coffers of the world!

Your commendation is what I seek and feel! The world offers it’s accolades, degrees, diplomas, awards, ribbons, trophies of silver and gold, titles, status, statues, pomp and circumstance – but these are nothing when life ends.

You offer us Your love. Limitless, enduring.

The world puts emphasis and praise on those who are self-sufficient, independant of others and You; and “keeping up with the Jones’ is advised.”

But You offer us Your Sufficiency. Your Oneness with Your Father, eternally – II Corinthians 3:5

Dependance is a value of high merit in Your sight. Trust and Faith in what we do not physically see.

A bruised reed You will not break. A broken and contrite heart You do not despise. Those who trust in You will never be desolate. You will not leave us comfortless. You come to us, with Truth, Freedom, the Holy Spirit’s Power and Presence.

You are

Fairer than the Lily of the Valley

Brighter than the Morning Star,

Purer than the Snow

Fresher than the Breeze,

Lovlier by far than all of these…’


Yes, someday maybe I’ll be the one with the house, and the extra room. I will need to bring strangers in, as our family did in the past.

Until then, I continue on, down the road called Dependance.

Our Father has strong shoulders and is perfectly capable of seeing and meeting all our needs – seen and unseen.

I hope you’ll let me know where you feel I’ve gone south with this idea.

I am a friend who acknowledges need.
I live and travel in various places, painting
and worshiping the One in Whom Is the Beauty of Holiness.

Content with my present lowliness,
Elise

The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the Lord‘s, and he hath set the world upon them.

~ I Samuel 2:7-8

P.S. I apologize for some major issues with formatting in the latter part of this post. I’ve done the best I can for the moment to make the text more consistent!

 

 

 



 


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