Friday, June 22, 2007

Emotional Expression

This evening was our youth group's "water party." It's an end of the school year/beginning of the summer event that's supposed to be a bit rowdy, a lot of fun, and very wet. For the last few years my two kids (who are well below typical youth group age) have gone and enjoyed watching (and sometimes participating in) the various games.

This year, however things were a bit out of control. The groups that's been coming has a lot of the same psychological make-up of a middle-school tech team - so the social dynamics can quickly. Today seemed to be worse than normal - and after several conflicts in the group I decided to get my kids out of there and calmed down for bed. Oh the weeping and gnashing of teeth!

My daughter is quite the dramatic individual (I don't know where she gets it from) and our earlier exit from the water party sparked some pretty loud fireworks on her part. After getting dressed for bed and brushing her teeth, however, she quietly went into our playroom closet, took out the colored pencils, and drew this image. At first I just felt like a bad father for making my daughter feel like she had to draw such a sad image. And then I thought, "Wow, how great is it that she found a beautiful way to express her feelings?"

My daughter wanted me to give this to my wife as soon as she got home, but I knew that this would not be the first thing she'd want to see after dealing with super-ball middle-schoolers all evening so I said, "Hon, let's day it and we'll show it to mommy tomorrow, OK?" Well, my daughter said, "I just want to rip it up, it's sad." So I stopped her, "Honey, it's beautiful too I think you should show it to mommy." So she spared it the tear of doom, and this gave me the opportunity to share it with all of you.

Here's a question, "Wouldn't it be great if the people in our dysfunctional churches could figure out a way to express their sorrow, fear, and angst in a way that creates something beautiful? The Bible, after all, has a type of poetry that manages just that - it's called a lament. I hope my daughter grows up allowing the laments of her artwork/life to walk side by side with her moments of joy and praise. What a great gift that would be.


CoderForChrist said...

From what I've heard, it seems like a lot of great artists have had rough lives. Perhaps there's something about pain and struggling that creates beauty.

Actually, now that I think about it, when I was in middle/high school, I tended to associate beauty with sadness. Maybe it was just teenage angst...or maybe I was onto something (it certainly wasn't any sort of deep understanding of sadness; the saddest I can remember being was when a girl broke up with me).

And, usually, the music I've "written" (none of it has actually been written down; it stays in my head) that I've had people tell me is "beautiful" or "pretty" tends to be the sad stuff. I've noticed the same thing about some of my favorite songs; they are often sad. Even when I'm feeling like the sun is shining and everything is happy, I'll tend to hit "repeat" on a sad song before a "happy" one.

Maybe the reason it's beautiful is because it hits that cord in your heart that knows that not everything's quite right yet, and if you have to pretend it is for one more second you're going to go insane.

I dunno...random thoughts at 1:30am. ;-)

CoderForChrist said...

Oh! I wanted to say...that is a beautiful picture. I hope she continues to find beautiful ways to express her feelings. :-)

MrsQ said...

Cynical Reaction:
but we aren't supposed to unhappy as Christians. We're supposed to exude the smarmy joy-cheese of the saved.

Thoughtful Reaction:
I love the transparency of children. All too soon, they will begin to learn the bad habits of adulthood and try be depict what they think they should exhibit rather than what they actually think of feel. I hope your wonderful daughter had a water party soon. Tell her that our boys have some squirters and sponge frisbees.

Personal Reaction:
For the past few years at our church, I had the strange experience of seeing the faces of the congregation during the first part of the service. People who were completely polite and pleasant at all times... wouldn't smile or sing.
-- while standing in church while the liturgies played... they temporarily dropped the facade. They looked angry, or sad, or confused. Then - after church - they'd talk about their houses, their cars, and their kid's sports.

You know, this reminds me of a story...

wezlo said...

Well, I hope that Bekah just learns that there are both good and bad ways to express emotion (both positive and negative). Throwing a high-pitched screaming fit because we're not buying a particular toy, bad. Drawing a picture about her disappointment and anger at what she sees as "unfair," good