Monday, November 9, 2015

Calm Amidst Chaos: A Response

"My best stab at a definition for art would be to say it is the product of an intentional and creative act that seeks to communicate the depth of meaning that we feel in our souls. Sometimes that creative expression is a direct response to an inward voice, and sometimes a direct response to an outward voice. It is a way to communicate our engagement with reality with love, beauty, pain, grace, and glory." 

~ Jason Truett Glen, Director of Worldview Formation at Bryan College

This post will admittedly have two purposes. The first is to share my recent experience participating in the art event hosted at my college. The second is to share a little of the story behind my own entry to the exhibit. Through and through, this is a response to the theme of calm in chaos and the topic of Christians expressing themselves through the arts. 

The Concept

"The theme giving guidance to the entries this year is Calm Amidst Chaos. -- These works of art will examine the role faith has in one's response to life's challenges and how art can reflect a meaningful response to these issues." ~ Jason Truett Glen

The announcement for this event came up before one of our weekly chapels here on campus. It struck my mind that participating in such an event would be fun. The only problem was that I had no concept for a project. I didn't want to force a concept for such a theme. I wanted the right inspiration to come to me. Just a few days later I sat in on a class where the teacher referenced the woman who washed Jesus's feet and her Alabaster Box. 

Immediately the song "Alabaster Box" by Cece Winans came to my mind. Oh, there is such meaning for me in this song. If you haven't listened to it then I highly recommend it. For me, this symbol of the alabaster box represented the pouring out of Mary's most highly prized possession. For me what I prized most were my gifts, my pride, and my control of my circumstances. Breaking that treasure box and pouring it out for the Master of my life was the hardest, most relieving thing to do in my life. 

"As she poured her love for the master
from her box of Alabaster.
And I've come to pour my praise on Him
like oil from Mary's Alabaster Box.
~ You don't know the cost of this oil
in my Alabaster Box."

I knew I wanted to capture that feeling in a painting so I combined my reaction to that Chapel and the song with some past experiences of mine where I had found calm in amidst chaos. Years ago I had my own season of darkness when I felt like I was too deep in the darkness to be rescued. My inner world was shadows and storms. One night I poured out all that I had and tearfully lifted my hands in surrender. That moment I felt God's peace pierce like a shaft of light through the clouds. This chapter of my life was what I decided to try and communicate for the art exhibit. 

"Pouring out Praise"
By Bethany Youngblood

The woman in the painting stands in the midst of a storm. She pours out two parts of herself, represented by the two bottles in her hands. The Bottle of Tears on the left represents her emotions; her hurts and joys. The Alabaster Box on the right represents her pride and gifts. With hands openly surrendering these two things she pours out her worship and experiences peace in the chaos.

The Exhibit

"It's also another way for students to recognize the complexity and talent that is present in their peers. It's easy to compartmentalize fellow students into neat sub-culture boxes, but we are all made to bear the image of our creative and wise God." ~ Jason Truett Glen

 We can all connect through pain. Through the desperation of being without direction. The pounding of storms. Through the pang of loss. And through the small shaft of calm that breaks through the clouds. In a way I think all the wonderful works of art that were shown at the exhibit had a past of pain to them. That is the only way we really understand what calm and peace are. Amidst the beauty I experienced that evening I also saw and heard the personal pains of the artists. What made the beauty truly shine through in their work was the triumph they found through Christ in their storms. Honestly now, some of what was presented impacted me so powerfully I cried. 

My dear friend Emily and her entry, "Journey"

Overall, I would easily say this art exhibit was a complete success. I was impacted, challenged, and inspired. I got to see how wonderfully talented my fellow students are and I cannot wait until next year to see what they make next! 

The Application

It's a wonderful mystery how God crafted us with the ability to express emotions. Just imagine for a second that you had no outlet to tell others how you felt! One way of expressing is through words. I prefer the written word to speaking in public. But art is another medium I and others make use of. Art is a natural blending of our human gifting to create and express in some small way like our Creator does. I marvel at how some are gifted in mixing watercolors to create a woodland scene. I marvel at the movement of a hand as it picks out a melody on a guitar's strings. 

These works of art, these tools of creative expression, communicate deeply to those around us. During this art event I felt my Christian brothers and sisters were aware of how their art was instrumental to communicating their thoughts on God. So why is it that Christians all around the world still struggle with the place of art and creativity in their lives? 

I know I've written about this topic before in my Christians and Creativity series. But I heard that the college might be doing a Chapel series on Christians in the Arts so be prepared for me to come back to this topic. 

I just want to encourage any out there who wonder where art fits in with their Faith. Your creativity reflects our Creator. He is the Origin of Creativity. He gave you your gifts. So expressing yourself through artistic mediums isn't a sin. A lot of our churches have some skewed views of art anyways. 

So if you do enjoy being creative....create! Reflect your Creator and express what He's done in your life to the world! 

Me with my entry, "Pouring out Praise."

What are your thoughts about Christians and Creativity? Do you enjoy expressing yourself through art too? If any of my fellow classmates stumble in here, what did you take away from the exhibit? What struck you? As always, comments and questions are welcome below!  


  1. This is really neat, Bethany! Your piece is really beautiful and I love the meaning behind it. Art is huge to me whether it be writing or drawing or playing the piano. It's how I channel my emotion. Often when I'm upset I play the piano.

    1. Yeah, I understand that. I channel a ton of emotion whenever I paint. Do you ever find yourself emotionally exhuasted after working on a project? I was never any good at playing piano but I love sitting back and listening to people passionately play.


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