Have you ever had a friend, child, spouse, or family member that you watched do the same stupid thing over and over and wondered “Why won’t they just learn their lesson and stop doing that?”
I have watched others close to me repeat bad decisions or mistakes and I thought “Why don’t they see that it’s not working for them? why won’t they learn?”. I sometimes try to bring to their attention that their course of action resulted in less than favourable outcomes in the past; therefore it may not be a great idea to repeat the choice. Usually they seem to be impervious to the information given and just keep ploughing ahead. Inevitably they say to me “why don’t I learn I shouldn’t (fill in the blank).
Oh, how Jesus was sooooo on point with his advice when he said “take the plank out of your own eye and you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbours”.
Have you ever read the bible when Moses asked the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go and the Pharaoh refused, and was besieged by various plagues that increased in the level of destruction and misery and thought “what was he thinking? Was it not enough to have the first plague? How did he not see that he was dealing with God and was going to lose?” Well I definitely have thought these things. I also, have thought similar thoughts while reading about the Israelites in the desert and just couldn’t /can’t imagine doubting a God that parted the Red Sea in front of me or dropped manna from the sky. But truth be told, I do the same thing, and God has sent me my own “plagues” and I still didn’t get it.
I had a realisation that I have been repeating mistakes that brought me to my health crisis. I thought I would have learned my lessons by now but I realised I haven’t yet.
I am a creative person, I always have been. When I was young I used to draw all the time. I also, did crafts, painted, and any other creative endeavour I was interested in. My Grandmother who was a talented artist taught me many things, and I remember just sitting in my parent’s living room drawing my own Archie comics by replicating the drawings of various stories in various Archie comics and making them into a new story. I also, loved to draw so much I made my own paper dolls to play with including their clothes.
I took every art course in high school and excelled in most (abstract teachers were not pleased with my non-abstract art, but I digress…). I had at one time thought it might be where I should focus myself for a career. But at the time I was told by parents, family, friends and teachers that “artists starve” and “you can’t make a living doing art”. As it turned out there are many avenues for artists that are professional paid jobs like Illustrator, animator, concept artist or in advertising to name a few, but I was not aware of that so did not go to college or university to further my artistic talents by getting a Bachelors of Art. I did keep doing my art, but it took a back seat to “real work”. When you are working all the time to just get by with your child, you are so focused on surviving that you view things like regular exercise, friends, fun, and hobbies as a niceties but not necessities. So, my art was put in the back ground much of the time except when I had fleeting moments of down time and was awake enough to draw or paint. Those times were however, fleeting and rare.
As time went on, I got re-married and was able to do some art more frequently, but I still always placed it second to everything else. I saw it as a luxury not a necessity, and certainty not associated with my overall health. Interestingly I always had a “pull” to do some sort of art. Looking back, I did do “crafty” things at times, but again not regularly. I was told by my mother one time, that when I was a kid, I would get so engrossed in my art I would lose all track of time and wouldn’t even hear her talking to me. She said my grandmother was the same way.
I thought nothing much of that information until recently, when I was discussing my health progress with my Nurse Practitioner. She and I discussed that I recently was experiencing a flare up of my health issues and that it was most likely due to the financial and personal struggles going on. She asked me if I was still exercising and getting outside for walks etc. I assured her I was. She then asked what other outlets I was using to manage my stress. I informed her that I had been doing my art but that as time has crept on and I still had no work I wasn’t doing it regularity, instead I was job hunting and whatever else I thought might help my hubby feel less burdened.
She asked how bad my stress was when I was doing some sort of artistic work before. I thought about it and realised it was much less that now. She asked me, what happens mentally when I am drawing or painting. I realised, my mind tends to stop racing and I focus on my drawing and whatever I am listening to (I like movies, TV, or sermon podcasts to play in the background while doing my art).
She looked at me and said “So, you are very creative…that’s your outlet. You need to incorporate doing art regularly/daily to maintain your mental health. It is not something you can afford to ignore or not do. It is a primary outlet for you and you need to make it a priority. Just like exercise.”
Wow. I never thought of it having such an important role in my health. She went on to explain that she believes everyone has something that is their primary outlet for stress and relaxation, something that if not done on a regular basis results in mental and physical health issues.
This reminded me of a conversation I had with my pastor months ago when I first was off sick. He said that God gives us abilities and talents, and that we usually have something that fills us spiritually and helps us relax and focus on God. Something God giving, and he thought mine was my art. He had also advised me to incorporate it into my routine, because he felt God blessed me with my talents for me to use them. He said doing art was a form of worship to God and through it he is glorified as he is the one who gave me my abilities. He said it was “Life Giving”, something that when removed contributes to mental and physical health issues. I have to say that having both my Nurse Practitioner and Pastor say the same thing has freed me from the guilt I was feeling about doing my art. I was feeling that I shouldn’t be making it a routine because my husband is working hard to provide and keep us a float and creating art is a luxury, but now I understand it’s not a luxury for me. By the way my husband agrees that I need to do it.
So, when will I learn? I think that God wants me to create art as part of my regular life. I have determined I can’t just say “I need to do art regularly” and then not bother changing my routine. I have to incorporate it into my life otherwise I will just continually have a negative impact on my mental, physical and spiritual health. It’s not an option, it’s a necessity. I have to look at it the same as adding exercise into my life or eating healthier, or taking my medications, it just has to happen. Which means I also have to keep in mind when choosing work, if I can’t do art because of the hours a place wants me to work, or whatever other possible reason, then I need to keep looking and praying for guidance, and waiting for the Lord to answer and provide the right work.
I think its all part of the lessons he is teaching me. I think my “plagues” have been the various physical, mental, financial and personal challenges that I have been going through, and my “plagues” will keep coming until I get the point and learn the lessons he is trying to teach me. I have to relent to his will earnestly and not like the Pharaoh who said yes to letting the Israelites go but changed his mind after the plague subsided. I need to relent to his will, pray and seek him. I sometimes wonder if he shakes his head sometimes and says “when is she going to learn?”