I visited an art-focused thrift store last week. They carry things that a lot of people would probably throw away or recycle, and they display art made with those things, art that shakes your shoulders and exclaims, “Look at all the cool stuff you could do! Get out of your box, silly! Try your crazy idea! Try it! Try it!” Sometimes I need to just inhale some good art to remind myself how much I love it and how much I still have to explore.
There were containers full of discarded photographs at the thrift store. I’ve seen them at county fairs and flea markets, too, and it always confuses me in an almost mournful way. Why are these photos here now, and not with the people who took them? Did they lose them? Did something make the person want to get rid of them? Did someone else donate them? Where did they come from and why didn’t they stay there forever? It unsettles me, and I wish I knew the answers. Every time I see photos for sale, I end up buying at least one, and I’ve never had a plan for what I’m going to do with them. I got quite a few at the thrift store this time. And I was determined to use them, in whatever way I could find.
“A collage or shadow box might be cool…” I mused. I looked through our craft paper and started pairing photos with backgrounds. I added lace, paper flowers, cut-outs, words, anything I felt suited the picture. I did this for multiple photos before I realized–
“I’m scrapbooking. I’m scrapbooking for strangers who didn’t get to.”
I started feeling a sense of duty toward the people in the photos to represent their memories and their personhood well. I chose colors I imaged they would like based on what they wore, paper that seemed to suit the situation, details I hoped honored what they felt toward the photo and the memory. I cared deeply about the way I treated those images.
Now I have multiple scrapbook pages full of people I’ve never met and places I’ve never been, and I don’t know what to do with them. But I am so glad that I brought some sense of completion to something that was unfinished.
Sometimes I fear that things will remain unfinished. I become impatient, or rather, I wear the mask of impatience. Yeah, sometimes I am angry or upset or restless, but when I look inside, I don’t see those things as much as I see fear. I see myself, my arms hugging my knees, and I’m trembling. “What if this is never fixed? What if this is something I’m going to have to live with the rest of my life? What if I never see it come to completion?” I pause. And with bitter tears I whisper:
“Are His promises true? Can I trust Him?”
There it is. There’s the fear at it’s core.
“Do you still love me, Father?”
Does He still love me even if He lets pain exist in my life? Pain I’ve asked Him to heal? Pain that’s been here for such a long time? I don’t want to pass it on to my children. I don’t want it to live with me forever. I want it to be finished. I want it to end here. And the anger comes out because I’m secretly afraid that it won’t come to pass that way.
I forget that He’s a good Father.
“I am the Lord; in its time I will hasten it.” He says (Is. 60:22). He doesn’t forget His work. He is a good Father. He always comes through for His children. Even if it takes longer than we’d choose sometimes. He knows what He’s up to.
I’ve got some unfinished things inside me. And I’ve got Someone who sees them and is enraptured by them and seeks to finish them. Promises to finish them.
He’s the author and He’s the finisher.
None of this stays an unfinished thing.