A guest post from Dana Llundblad on art, sculpture and self image:
With All the Brakes Off
By Dana Llundblad
For many years, I’ve felt the impulse — a God-given one — to make a sculpture that reflected how I saw myself. Given my own thoughts and feelings, I could imagine that the result might be hideous (perhaps), embarrassing (certainly). Yet the promise was that if I allowed my focus and gaze to linger on this body with a creative eye, I might see it differently. For if I am found infinitely desirable by the Creator God who is infinitely desirable, could I not feel the same?
Now that this self-portrait, so to speak, is done, I look at it, and I’m quite critical. It doesn’t look right in many ways, and the art critic in me is not pleased. And in other ways, I find it far too flattering. But —
I’m proud of it. And I realize that my feelings toward the piece are different than they might have been in the past. And that my feelings were changing day by day. I’m not giving it an overwhelming embrace, but neither do I feel an overwhelming disgust.
Then I realize that it’s me. Not something a part of me, but me.
In the past if forced to say one thing I liked about myself, I would have come up with something that I don’t really believe or is, at the least, somewhat remote: eyebrows, nose, something. But now I don’t know. I’m not sure if I can name a specific part, but all in all I’d look closely at myself and I’d not look away. I would gaze intently and in the end I’d say, my body is flawed, vulnerable and lovely in its own way. Odd that.
It’s easy to dismiss such a seemingly negligible level of growth (from abject disgust to tepid embrace), but really, it’s a big deal. I know that it is.
Do I wish this body were still young and firm and that my road of pain wasn’t written indelibly into my body? Yes, of course. But I don’t renounce myself, as I would have done (regardless of my size). And I acknowledge that it is my body which has borne all that pain. And so it is — and I am — victorious and redeemed. I can’t and won’t deny my body that, even if I don’t fully love it.
And I feel like for the first time in my entire life that my body and my mind and my spirit are working in harmony — or at least they are getting there. It doesn’t feel like there’s war on every day. And I’m so thankful, because I have longed for peace.
And I begin to think that if I can truly understand that I am infinitely desirable to God, perhaps I can love Him, and then myself and others, without reserve or limit, with all the brakes off.
Dana is a longtime resident of Berkeley, California, who met Jesus as a student at the local university. She currently works for The Y, but her long-term goal is to pursue her calling to work overseas in Bangladesh or India. Besides her deep love of Jesus, Dana is also pretty fond of reading, cycling, the arts (all kinds!) and the San Francisco Giants!