A Broken Worth

November 29, 2012 § 5 Comments

Broken and gnarled, but so beautiful.

“We love those who see the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.” – Walker Percy

I dig that man and his words.

But what of those who do see the worst of us and want no part of who we are?

It’s one thing for a person to say, “I don’t find my worth and validation in other people’s opinions.” It’s a completely different thing to say, “I don’t care anything about what other people think.”

To be honest, I think it’s a little arrogant and self-absorbed to think the latter. The person puts themselves above all others, implying their opinions don’t matter. Ideally, I shouldn’t even care what I think about myself. My Judge and Jury are elsewhere.

There once was a woman, a painter. She’d been painting since she was a little girl. Like anyone who ever tries to be anything, she wasn’t great at first. The more she painted, the better she got. As a young woman, she explored different and darker themes. Painted things that some people found offensive, but they reflected a moment in her life. She explored the process. The offensive things received some recognition, but mostly she painted them to learn from it, and she moved on.

She grew and her work changed. Different people bought her work, displaying it around town. She was proud of what she’d accomplished and thankful for the process that brought her to that point. She realized you have to get all the ugly out  to find the beauty. So even the ugliness has value. Has importance. Ugliness and Beauty go hand in hand.  Even bad art days were part of the process. She wanted to go further. To grow and learn.

A few of those she worked with found her most offensive paintings. And they really were grotesque. They did not care for any of it. They did not ask her to explain. They did not want to understand. They did little to hide their anger and disgust. They asked her to leave. She felt worthless. Undeserving of love or grace. Beat down and shattered. She didn’t understand how they could look at the expanse of her art and only see the worst, most evil. There was so much they did not like, but she was so much more than the ugly, even though it was a part of her.

It broke her.

All she could do was hold a hand over her heart and cry out.

After a time, she picked her paint brush back up. Doing so, she was afraid. Like if she started to paint again, she would open herself back up to pain, to hurt, to disgust from others. But she was a painter. She pushed that vulnerability aside, knowing rejection might come again, and began to draw a single line across her canvass.

It started smooth and fine, but went jagged and wrong. Moments curved, making lovely shapes.  Breaks returned, but never in the same way twice.

It would be a long time before the line was finished, but the hurt and darkness in her heart eventually faded.

She felt hope again.

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