Faith, something many of us live by to survive, yet it is given such little attention in our daily walks. There is so much discussion when it comes to faith and for millions of years it has mostly been used in a religious context. This is probably the part where you think I'm going to go all religious...I'm not. What or who you believe in is your business. Religion is not required in order to have faith, nor is faith something that you have to learn. Faith is gifted to each and every one of us from the moment we are conceived and it is our responsibility to keep and strengthen it. This very valuable part of our journey as human beings is essential to understanding lifes purpose.
(Ruins 30X40 - acrylics on canvas, available)
A brief definition of Faith according to Merriam Webster Dictionary:
1. a: allegiance to duty or a person: LOYALTY, b (1): fidelity to one's promises (2) sincerity of intentions - on faith : without question
What do you believe in wholeheartedly? This is not a question that I think we ask ourselves often enough. I don't mean what you've been taught to believe in; I mean what you know in your heart to be true because you've experienced it first hand. I believe in God, I believe in the goodness of people, I believe in love; I believe that each and every one of us has the right to believe in whatever we want to; belief is faith. In my opinion; faith can be many things such as, just sitting on a chair. A person usually doesn't think about whether the chair will hold them up as they place their body in a postion of rest. They just sit knowing that wherever they place their body will be comforted. This is what happened to me in 2014 when I decided I would allow my faith to take me where I was supposed to be.
(In the studio body painting Koneisha Johnson of Kween Plus Naturals while Janelle Gordon video tapes the process)
I had a part time administrative position at a very nice Country Club in CT. Each day I woke up with the overwhelming desire to create but felt stuck and confused. I had been pursuing my art seriously for several years and was even running my business 'Art Simplicated' part time on the side. In the midst of working there, I often questioned why I was not thriving the way I felt I should have been. I even went as far as seeking therapy because I just couldn't deal with my disheartening thoughts anymore, I needed help to gain clarity. What happened next would bring me the very profound clarity I was seeking.
I landed in the seat of a therapist who helped me to see and hear exactly what I needed and literally changed my life forever. He honestly said nothing to me that I didn't already know (I told you, we are born with it). He just helped me to get out of my own damn way and rediscover the faith I'd already had; I will forever be grateful to him for this. As I sat there in this job, in someone else's position, I could hear a voice saying that "It just wasn't for me and I didn't belong there anymore. The gift of art would bring me all that I ever really needed." In that moment it was decided that I would no longer subscribe or engage in anything that wasn't meant for me. I left that job and leapt right into bed with faith; broke it off with fear and decided that it would no longer control my life. I didn't know exactly where art was going to take me, I just knew I would thrive there. I could sit in that chair and it would hold me and everything that I came with.
(In Flight, a public art project from 2015 - blog coming soon!)
Looking back on the last couple of years of my life I understand exactly why I waited so long to make that decision. I had to be exposed to difficulty to appreciate triumph. I was choosing fear over faith because I was afraid of the consequences of making such a drastic decision. How would it affect my children? How could I afford to survive as an artist who was merely a speck of dust on this vast canvas that God had created? How could I make such a selfish decision when I was responsible for the well being of my family? These were all and still are very real and legitimate fears...when you lack faith.
These are also fears that I no longer subscribe to; and questions that I no longer ask. I often open doors presented to me not always knowing what will be behind them; I turn the knob and open them anyway. I have a level of faith that tells me if it is meant for me it will be mine, if it's not, then it won't. I am not naive to the dangers of opening doors that I can't see behind, my faith takes care of anything trying to harm me though. I'm thriving like never before, allowing myself to be used as a vessel bringing transformation to peoples lives through art and words. The people I've met, places I've been and things I have seen in such a short period of time have humbled and inspired me. I am becoming a person who I sometimes don't even recognize (in a good way). I am growing to be exactly who I am meant to be and that alone has given me confirmation that I have a purpose much bigger than anything I could have ever dreamt up for myself. If I had not stepped out on my "faith walk" none of this could have ever been realized for me. There are people around me who admire my fearlessness. The truth is that I still have many fears, I just fear less. The battles that are out of my control are the ones that I hand over to God faithfully knowing that they will be handled accordingly and that I must stay the course.
"Walking on faith is a challenge, It's easy to be afraid" - Jill Scott
(A bracelet that I was given as a birthday gift in 2014 by my good friend Mary Ann Voss; She calls me fearless)
Is it easy? No; Is it worth it? Yes. I wish that I could bottle this stuff up and hand it out like candy to each and every person who I know needs it including myself somedays. Being awoken and transparent through my art and writings is my glass bottle, it is my daily practice, my daily prayer and meditation, my medicine on days when I don't feel quite like myself. Faith is what allows me to move mountains when the rest of the world stands there staring at them.
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
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