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The Work that Broke Me, Then Held Me Together

This is the story of an unfulfilled dream that ended up saving my life; even though the dream still didn't come true.

When I was 13, I read a biography of Rich Mullins. I remember the night I finished the book, I put it down and I prayed, "Lord, if You want to make it possible, please let me go to the Navajo reservation one day and teach at a school there and be a presence of Your healing and love."

From then on, I prayed that prayer almost daily. When I got to college, I went on two trips to the Reservation in Arizona, and was basically told that once I graduated, I'd have a place there to teach.

Every day I'd walk from my dorm room to a class, I'd have my earbuds on listening to Rich Mullins' song "Calling Out Your Name" or the track "Vita Nostra" from Ennio Morricone and think, "I'm one day closer. One class closer. One violin lesson closer."

One evening in my dorm room, I drew a picture from an old photo taken of a Navajo child from the age when the American west was being taken, and Native Americans were going through the genocide and being moved to reservations. It has been (and I think always will be) my favorite artwork I've ever done.

It ended up not looking very much like the photo, but of all the work I've ever done, I felt that God meant for his face to look exactly how it ended up.

As I approached graduation, I mentally snapped from things that had been going on in my life for a long period of time, and ended up with PTSD that gave me severe panic attacks daily. They would wake me up in my sleep in the middle of the night, convince me that I was dying, make me shake uncontrollably, and take a few hours to leave. This went on from January 2012.

Then I found out a month before graduation that the school on the Reservation was taken over by a new organization, had the teachers they needed, and didn't need me to come out there after all. That was when I really kind of lost it. I had given up so much to chase after this dream-- people, other career opportunities, plans, relationships, even the chance to get away from the situation that was killing my mental health. I had put all my eggs in that basket, and suddenly the basket no longer existed.

After I graduated, my health overall plummeted and I lived in fear and anger. I'll not write the details here, but I was healed in September of 2012, and that is a whole other story. But it was a miracle that brought me out of death.

I began to look back and see things more clearly-- that although that dream had seemed to shatter me, in reality, it had held me together. If I had not kept my eyes on it, I probably would have made choices that wouldn't have been right. I probably would've married the wrong person, went to the wrong school, ended up with the wrong career, or in the wrong place, or become someone that God hadn't intended. I began to see that what at the time looked like a nightmare had been a shield around me.

So this piece of art always reminds me of that-- that when we can only see exactly where we are in the moment, we cannot see the whole picture or the whole story. We can be crying out "why?!" in anguish, only to climb the trail months or years later and look back down at the place we had been and say, "Oh..." and breathe a sigh of awe and wonder.

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