Bullying in Art, Is There Room for Grace?
Someone whose spirit I deeply respect is going through a rough time. His artistic work has long been exceptional, but he doubts its value. For many reasons, one of which is that his powerful work eclipses the light of his tender spirit. He’s under pressure from all sides, but most intensely from himself. His heart has been broken time and again; each time the scars gnarl thicker. He wonders if anyone can actually see him anymore – or if they ever did. And worse, isn’t sure if he even exists. He’s judged for his work, but mostly for who he’s not. No matter how loud he speaks, it seems no one can hear him. Despite all of this, he persists. With a courage that few would find within themselves. Rising again, fighting on, refusing to be diminished.
Yet, it’s heartbreaking to know that this struggle is not caused by his work, but by cruel bullying at the adult level. And a society that accepts it. Artists have long been subject to rejection and misunderstanding. But this is not a matter of artistic work being rejected or disliked. That is inherent in art, as art is an expression of human spirit and as such, appeals to some and not to others. That’s as it should be. No, this is a matter of bullying and the damage it does to the spirit. Frankly, we should all put an end to practices that breed bullying. We have the power to stop it by changing the focus of our attention. The rallying call for that, however, is another article.
What I’m interested in here is the one being bullied. Rejection of one’s work is enough to cause pain. But when your spirit is subject to unfounded, continual misunderstanding and people refuse to let you define who you are, how do you find your way out of that?
Is there grace?
What is needed is the healing embrace of acceptance, to be seen and known and loved for who you truly are. But it’s more than that. Grace in this type of pain comes when you remember who you are in Spirit, in the inherent value of your presence on earth. When you reclaim your power to decide who you are.
What if you can’t remember who you are? What if the voices have been so loud for so long that deciphering where you begin and they end is nearly impossible? What if you have been fighting for your spirit’s survival for so long, you no longer know how to let others in to bless you?
The essence of bullying and rejection is that it breaks the spirit down, and breaks it open – and those places either die a little or spark new growth. No one is immune to it. The process makes you vulnerable, uncertain, doubtful, reclusive. You pull away, try to bury pain, don’t let others see just how deeply you’re affected – create an illusion of equilibrium. Old souls can see beneath that surface. Most others will take you at your word.
The one bullied often ends up trying to hide to avoid more pain, but being unseen is actually part of the root of the pain. It turns into a vicious cycle. And if you can’t evade the bullies, you end up with the constant dread of confrontation. Anger. Frustration. Pain. Stared at and invisible.
So what can you do? Remind yourself of the grace that exists for you. Remember that you are made of the same stuff as the stars, that you made the stars. That no amount of lies can create the truth.
It takes courage. It takes courage to trust your own opinion more than others. It takes courage to stand up for yourself, to yourself, to the voices that would have you believe the lies.
And it takes courage to let others around you see you. To trust their ability to see beyond the falsities. To allow others the grace to bless you.
Because the grace you seek in the face of pain is not the faith of others, but faith in yourself.
Posted on Sunday, in Internal, Obstacles. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.
Sometimes the lighthouse keeper, exhausted by the onslaught of the storm, battered by the waves, his voice lost to himself in the roar of the wind struggles to maintain the belief that what he does is worth it, that anyone will see.
But all it takes is one person with their eyes open to call: “Look! There! There is the light!”
Being seen makes all the loneliness, all the anger, all the frustration and the pain worth it.
Britta, thank you for seeing, and for helping me to get back the self-confidence to be seen.
You are welcome, Michael. It’s a blessing to “see.”