In order to heal from trauma, genuinely love others, and receive love, it is important to tell our stories. We need to be transparent and make connection with others in order to come out of hiding. Telling our stories to empathetic listeners brings connection. Making art to tell our stories is a redemptive bridge, to be more transparent with our stories using: few, if any, printed words, many colors, shapes, pictures, stamped papers, fabric and other materials on hand. This type of art has been very beneficial to me, and to many I have served through the art making. It has been that bridge to make connection with empathetic listeners.
As little or as much of our stories can be shared when “telling” our stories this way. As we begin to feel safe because others are vulnerable in telling their stories, and we see the art-making has been therapeutic to our hearts, we can move to wanting connection with others and be vulnerable. We begin to gain certainty that our stories need to be heard, and that the telling of our stories is important. Safe people can speak truth, love, forgiveness, worth and value, prayer and correction into our stories as we tell them. We begin to see our stories are important as well. Healing may begin as we expose and release dark parts of our stories by bringing them into the light, thus taking their power and shame away.
Here is one redemptive project (with examples posted throughout this blog post.) You ask four questions to participants in order for them to “fill in” the four quadrants around the painted papers “cross” you have given them. Here are the questions.
Can you tell me about your beginnings?
When was a time you celebrated in your story?
When was it hard in your story?
What do you hope for your story?
The art making can be a powerful bridge to release trauma, since trauma is stored in the non-verbal parts of the brain. Participants begin to move along in their stories, and they often see how courageous they have been. They can feel empowered to forgive, let go of shame and grow up as a result of telling their stories. The art may begin this process, and may lead the participant to ask for more help, begin journaling, or seek a counselor or support group for more healing. As one translator once told me, “I didn’t know art could be so powerful.”
“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help. We all need help….Vulnerability begets vulnerability; courage is contagious.” – Brené Brown, The Gifts Of Imperfection