Branded

I was walking down the street one night, going home after a long days work. It was a bit of a cold night, with snow beginning to fall. Everyone bustling about, getting things done so they could get home and be with their families before the storm really settled in. As I was walking, I saw this man coming towards me and there was just something different about him. He wasn't a rich man, nor a distinguished man, may have even been homeless, but there was something about him that just seemed different. As he got closer, I started to see his face and see the many wounds he bore, words like failure, stupid, not good enough, You know, just the normal things written across all of our faces, but to my amazement, they were not wounds any more, but scars, healed and proudly displayed as some great victory won. Then I looked and saw across his forehead the word LOVED written, and I knew why he was so different. As he smiled and looked at me, I could feel the love that had so consumed him, pouring out for me as well. I knew I may not ever meet another person like him. Luckily I had my camera with me and moving quickly, I raised the camera and CLICK.

(here are the words written on his face: hopeless, fat, failure, idiot, ugly, worthless, homeless, not good enough, loser, dirt, trash, stupid - LOVED)

 

(It was a bit difficult to decide which version of the image I liked best, so here are a couple others as well)

Life can be quite an adventure sometimes.  A year ago, I would have never thought I would be working on a portrait like this, but then one day I just had an idea for an image. So I set off on my adventure armed with an idea, not really knowing where it would take me or how it would look in the end.  Now, about eight months later, I think it’s finally finished.  Just as a small note, the entire image was also made with Blender and a photo editor called Photoline.

 

If you would like to hear a little more backstory for the image, you can keep reading below, but if a picture can be worth a thousand words, I imagine it can also be worth a thousand interpretations as well :)  So please don't think this is somehow the correct way of looking at it.

 

For me, it's really the story of my own life in a lot of ways, and my own journey of finding true love.  As people, we have such a huge desire to know and feel that we are valuable and good enough.  Yet so many times in the course of life, that message is sent, often unintentionally, that you're worthless and you don't matter, and we kind of become wounded by all the things people say about us or the things we believe about ourselves.  Whether we want to admit it or not, it's something that we all struggle with in various forms.  Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I think it's really why we want to be the best at something, or to be famous, or want to be like others who are better at something than we are, constantly trying to compare ourselves to them to see how we measure up.  I think it's also why we can be so arrogant and prideful at times, looking down on others and believing that we are just somehow inherently better than everyone else, when in reality we are just so broken inside, we would completely fall apart believing anything less.  Or sometimes we also try to escape feeling worthless into things like drinking, or drugs, or pornography.  There was a story I had heard once of someone who had a drug addiction for many, many years because of one single event that had happened with his father when he was a child that had made him feel like he was worthless and unloved.  And maybe we don't put it into these words, but it's like, if I could only be like them, I could feel loved and valuable, good enough, and we live our whole lives trying to be like someone else just to feel loved like they are loved.  It's really not a bad thing to want to be loved, but I think the real difficulty is that the love that people give does change.  If you mess up or you aren't what someone wants you to be, you do get rejected and the love that is given pretty much always comes with some kind of condition. 

 

Not to try and make this into a religious post, but that is really what is so different about the love that Jesus gives, it's unconditional, it will not change.  You are loved as you are, and I guess in the end I just wanted to say that knowing I am loved and always will be loved has completely changed my life.  It's such a wonderful thing to have that freedom of being able to fail and make mistakes and know that you're still going to be loved.  To be grounded in a love that's not going to change because you mess up and isn't based on your performance.  I don't have to be great or famous or better than someone else to be loved by Him, or I don't have to try and get people to believe I'm more perfect than I really am because I am already loved and valuable as I am, even in all of my weaknesses and failures.  It means that no, I’m not worthless, I am loved and valuable as I am, and I may not be good enough for others, but I am good enough for Him.   Or yes, I may be a failure, but I am a loved failure, and that’s really what matters most.   There might come a time that I am homeless, but I am still loved just the same as if I wasn’t.

 

As someone who has been a perfectionist a great deal of my life, it's wonderful to have someone that you don't have to be perfect or good enough for because you're already loved in all your inabilities.  Not to say that I don't do my best, but there is definitely a big difference between perfectionism and wanting to do something well.  I think in the end it's really why I was ever a perfectionist in the first place because of being so utterly scared someone would find something wrong with something I had done and reject me because of it.  I guess I just find it such an amazing thing to think about that His love for me is so great that He would give His life in my place for all the wrong that I have done; to know me in my darkest and yet still love me.  That's really what is so different about an unconditional love, and why His love has changed my life and healed those wounds; there are no conditions, you are wholeheartedly loved and that's the end of it.  To be more  brief and paraphrase a song I heard once: This image is my story and what it's meant to really know Him; the story of all His love and glory, and all He’s done for me.

 

As a last thing, here is the attribution for the things I used:

Alexander Lyubavin | IMG_4487 | https://www.flickr.com/photos/santea/22645274623/

 

The Tartan Loom | jkon | http://www.blendswap.com/blends/view/81061

 

Mix Shader By Color ID Texture (Sharp) | novellino | http://www.blendswap.com/blends/view/81017

 

Teeth Base Mesh | ANDREI CRISTEA | http://www.undoz.com/blog/2014/1/3/b...rimitives.html

 

[Addon] Cycles Multi-Tile-UDIM non destructive painting | Vertigos |http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?374697-Addon-Cycles-Multi-Tile-UDIM-non-destructive-painting&p=3028428&viewfull=1#post3028428