Exploring Who you are and who God says you are with acrylic pour painting.

We are taking excerpts from the book "Who God Says You Are" by Klyne Snodgrass,
"A Christian Understanding of Identity."

In September, we explored Interactive Journaling where we imagined what God would say to us as we come to Him when we have something on our mind, full of joy, or full of something disturbing.  You can read the 5 statements that we wrote on in the September 2019 post of Interactive Journaling.

This year, in every medium that we use, we will use art to help us explore the topic of Identity ...Who are you? [Everything below are excerpts from the book above by Klyne Snodgrass.]

Identity is the sum of everything that pertains to us and shapes us.  Identity is that sense of being and self-understanding that frames our actions, communicates to others who we are, and sets the agenda for our acts.  Identity drives life, and it provides the energy and motivation for all else.

Who are you and what made you who you are?  More, importantly, who should you be and how does the Christian gospel redefine who you are?

We delude ourselves about how much we construct our own identity.  Much of our identity we do not choose, and we have little control over it; it is given to us.  For all nine factors, to varying degrees, we have to say part is given and part is chosen.

The nine factors are as follows:
You are your Body
You are your History
You are your Relations
You are your Mind
You are your Commitments
You are your actions
You are your Boundaries
You are your Ongoing Process of Change
You are your Future

Take a journal, or piece of paper and take some time to list each one of the above, and name two or three things that go under each factor.  For instance, our physical and psychological characteristics, some given and some chosen are our gender, ethnicity, size, strength, abilities, tendencies toward shyness, aggressiveness, etc. all shape us.

The nine factors of identity are true of all humans, but all factors shaping our identity must be reconsidered from a Christian perspective.  All nine factors have to do with God.  The Christian faith and its Bible are about identity and they seek to move us toward that ideal self that God intends.  Faith transforms identity, or else it is not faith.  But faith is not about believing stuff; biblical faith is about being attached to Christ, bound to him, and participating in life with Christ and having your identity transformed by that participation.
Deuteronomy 30:19,20 says, "Now choose life, so that you and your children may live, so that you love the Lord you God, obey his voice, and are attached to him.  For He is your life."

God calls us to know him, but that cannot happen unless we know ourselves.  The most important spiritual journey and act of discipleship is in shaping our own identity in response to the call of God to be who we are supposed to be, someone created in God's image.  It is a call not to settle for what we are or to be thrown off course by what happens to us, but to shape life in response to God.

Who are you?  What has happened to you and through you?  Where are you?  Where are you going?  Who is going with you?  What do you do because of who you are?  Tell me and I will know your identity.  The degree that Christ is involved in the answers corresponds to the degree that you are actually a Christian.  Being a Christian, like identity, is a process, not a mere event.  If Christ is not involved in the answers to those questions, can you even confess to being a Christian?  We will never find who we really are without in the process finding God.  We know ourselves in knowing God, and we know God in knowing who we really are.  A focus on identity is not about a self-centered self-realization; it is about knowing who we are in relation to God and other people. 

Now, go back to each of the nine factors, and list a few things that God would say about you and your identifying factors.  This of course, will depend on how well you know God, but look at Him as a very loving, comforting parent who only wants good for you.

Each of the nine factors are explained further in each chapter.  An excerpt from the chapter on your history is an example.
"What will you do with your history?  You need to own your own history, but do not let your history own you.  You are not who the past says you are; you are who you, unavoidable history and all, choose to become in relation to God.  You are not allowed to use your history as an excuse for your failures.  People do.  They were abused, and on that basis they excuse their abuse of others.  There is neither justification not integrity in that.  Your history is not merely a predetermination; it must be assessed, filtered, and sometimes rejected.  Either your history will define you, or you, well aware of your history and its impact, will define your future.  People often are trapped in their past or vainly attempt to put off life until the future.  You cannot live your history or your future.  Jesus called people to live in the present, aware of their past and pulled by their futures.  What can and should you change?  It may well be that the more history you have the harder it will be to choose something else, but even there the real issue is what you are willing to change, with God's help, to become the person God intends.  Do not let stubbornness and arrogance, even if you are elderly, keep you from becoming who God intends you to be.  Sometimes our histories have worn us out and disabled us.  Life often is hard and even burdensome.  Still, even a burdensome history does not get to define us.  Nor can our histories be used as an excuse, as damaging as they may bel.  We can be energized, reoriented, and called back to our true identity by the larger reality of Christ's history.  Our histories are important, but our histories too are given over to the grace of God.  Each of us should say each day, "By the grace of God I am what I am, and this grace is not useless to me."  Realize, though, that this freeing statement on identity will not leave you as you were, for grace is a power that puts you to work and that works in and on you."

After that reflection, we started our collection of paint into a cup which is a process called a "dirty pour."  After we had chosen our colors, without mixing them, we poured the cup out on the canvas.
Some tilting and manipulation can be done as the paint moves, along with blowing from a straw.  But the paint does move on its on and continues to move, even though you try and control or hold some pieces of the design.

We then asked the following questions of our art as we looked at what had transpired.
What color is the dominant color?
What section of the canvas do you like the best? Why?
Is there any design or image that you can see in your painting?
How has your painting changed from when the paint first touched the canvas?
How do you see God in the painting or in the process?
How did you feel not being in control or the outcome?
Did anything surprise you?


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