BLESSED IS THE PAIN
(BUT DAMNED ARE THOSE WHO FEEL IT)
For all of April, May and through the beginning of June 2017, I have been working on a series of seven illustrations titled Blessed Is The Pain. These seven works express the struggles I have faced from an intense and harrowing religious upbringing, and how that intersects with my depression, anxiety and overall identity.
I began making my art as a coping mechanism for my mental illness, and though with each piece I confront the emotions that I have and that are often confusing, I have never attempted to confront the memories and emotions that my experience with religion has left me with. I have tried on numerous occasions, but in all honesty, it’s been extremely difficult because the memories are upsetting and confusing and difficult to articulate. That is why this series is so important to me. I have never been able to capture my hurt and my experience properly and honestly until now.
Each piece is a memory, each piece is a slew of emotions.
In preparation for this series, I read the bible cover to cover. I wanted to find specific bible verses to accompany each piece, and also, the experience of reading the full length of the scripture put me in a better headspace to create each piece. I rediscovered verses that I’d once had memorized, and verses that I’d heard quoted so many times. It was simultaneously cathartic and stressful, but ultimately provided me with the inspiration and motivation to complete the series.
Below are the works, and the bible verses that accompany each piece.
** Please note: the quote that contains the Lord’s Prayer is taken directly from the King James Version that I read. Below is the version of the prayer that my mother taught me, and that I’ve recited innumerable times:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
your kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this our daily bread,
And forgive us of our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
Forever and ever,
“They feel but the pain of their own bodies and mourn only for themselves.”
“‘You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?’”
“The wicked man writhes in pain all his days, through all the years that are laid up for the ruthless.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
“‘For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone’, declares the Sovereign Lord. ‘Repent and live!’”
“I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye surely shall not die.”
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
"The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."
“For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.”
“Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?”
“The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked.”
“For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.”
“My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly.”
VI. THE PLAGUE
“And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar.”
“So will I send upon you famine and evil beasts, and they shall bereave thee: and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee; and I will bring the sword upon thee. I the Lord have spoken it.”
“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.”
VII. THE MOTHER
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication:
And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon The Great, The Mother Of Harlots And Abominations Of The Earth. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
“I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare.”