"It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." ~Galatians 2:20
I was writing Shanila, my dear...dear friend. I was searching my brain, trying to explain how my heart bends towards her, how I will always be in her corner, cheering for her cause towards happiness. That's when I realized that God has tattooed so many dear ones across the life-giving source of my body: my heart.
I promised a blog post to explain the self-portraits titled 'Dear Ones'...but now that I sit down, it doesn't matter how much coffee I pour inside me, I still cannot string the right words together. Maybe that's why I took the pictures in the first place? To show the meaning.
But here's the thing, when I think of the love of Jesus for me (Andrea Marie Cooper, the punk with crazy hair and a silly laugh) I see Him with my name etched in His flesh. Maybe, instead of 'punk with crazy hair and a silly laugh', He has penned: The beloved who I cannot take my eyes off...
And it isn't just me. All my 'dear ones' are etched upon His flesh. I believe it with my whole heart. I believe we have been etched there, clearly visible since He came into this world as a pure, tiny baby. We were there when He preformed His very first miracle, turning the water into wine. Our names were upon Him when His pores bled in the Garden of Gethsemane. Our names were still upon Him as He hung from the cross. He took our names when He ascended to heaven...holding out His hands and arms for all the angels to see. Without Him speaking a word, everyone would have heard Him say, "They were worth every bit of it."
I will fiercely protect and love my dear friends and family. I will always want what is best for them...want their hopes and dreams to come true. I pray they know great happiness and joy in this life. Should anyone try to harm them, I'm going to jump to their aid and flex whatever muscle I have. I'll go down, dirt in my mouth, knees bleeding and teeth broken before I let someone hurt them. And if I feel this way toward these people in life, how much more my Lord and Father must feel towards them?
I think the portraits represent a greater love that my Father has towards us. It isn't really me in those pictures, but the love of God...if that makes sense. He reflects a greater promise for my loved ones than I do with my skinned knees and fierce eyes...
So that's it. I'm turning thirty in twenty-one short days. The portraits are a bookmark of this time in my life. Over the years, more names will be added upon my heart. Who I grow up to be will be shaped and molded by those names. But I praise God that He is slowly making me disappear in the shadow of His love, and replacing me with more of His heart. At sixty, maybe you won't see me at all, but just a scribble of so many names that my own skin won't show anymore? And at that point, it will truly be Christ who lives in me.
PS: It IS art, after all. Maybe none of it makes sense...but somehow, it does to me. ;)