Seeing the Positive Space

As an artist, you are taught to use contrasting colors to define your positive and negative space within a work.  Normally, you want to highlight the focus of the piece and shade the non-focal areas.  You want to draw attention to the positive.  I realize artwork is not always positive in the way of subject matter.  That is not exactly what I am talking about.  I am talking about the area to which your eye is drawn.  In the picture to the left, there are two images, one in negative space in one in the positive.  Do you naturally see one before the other?  Usually it is the positive space.  But the same is not true when I think of myself.

My husband and I were having a conversation while sitting on the couch yesterday morning.  I mentioned some things I was struggling with emotionally.  It seems I have had many struggles lately.  Nothing overwhelming, just many small things that make my mind whirl.  Specifically, I was talking about a hearing test I had recently that revealed I have low-frequency hearing loss.  I guess my husband had had enough of my whining because he said, “Holly, I want you to think about something.  You are letting all these negative things define you–whether it is your bipolar disorder or hearing loss or whatever else is wrong.  I want you to think of the good things about yourself and let them define you.”

I was suddenly fighting back tears.  The sad truth:  I couldn’t think of anything positive about myself that defined me.  I feel like I fall short on everything.  I feel like I am failing my children because I don’t spend enough constructive time with them.  I feel like I fail as a housekeeper because there is usually enough dust on my ceiling fans to plant corn.  I fail as an artist because I have no time to invest.  The same goes for being a writer.  Other than knowing I am God’s Child, Redeemed, I can think of nothing.

This is something I desperately need to work on.  I don’t have a resolution or a happy how-to ending for this blog post.  Rather, I want to ask you, “What positive things define you?”


About Holly D Russell

mom of four wonderful girls mom of faith

Posted on January 17, 2014, in bipolar/depression, Children, God, overcoming, Uncategorized, writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. You just said it, right there in your post: you are God’s child, redeemed. And that’s enough. And that’s everything. 🙂

  2. Holly, I so appreciate your honesty. I struggle with this as well. I feel SO inadequate in pretty much every area of my life. One thing positive is that I think I can encourage other people, so let me try to do that for you. You are a teacher. You have wise things to share with others, and honestly, I’d rather hear from someone who has learned something through the struggle than someone who has never been desperate, at the end of herself. Really, I think that “desperate” is right where God wants us. That “Lord, I can’t do this… You will have to do it” kind of cry. When we are completely empty, that’s when He begins to fill us. You have much to give, even when you don’t know it. You bless me with your friendship. You bless me with your gift for words. With your willingness to share your story. That’s the kind of friend I want, the kind of friend I want to be.

  3. My dearest Holly, how I wish we could go for coffee. I love this very real and vulnerable post! I pray with all my heart that God will open your eyes to all the good that defines and shapes you! I know from our short time together, that there is much! For myself, I can completely identify, but I confess it was much wiser when my children were small. I was in survival mode, and overwhelmed by life so much of the time. In my current season, I may have a door opening before me that is very exciting and dear to my heart. However, i feel totally inadequate and worry people won’t like the fact that I have no letters behind my name. Although I’ve taken enough college course to have a bachelor’s degree, I could never narrow down what degree that was, so I finally stopped trying to raise my family. I believe I have could have a strong degree from the classroom of experience. But will it be enough? You’re in my prayers sweet friend! I love you!

    • *harder when my children were small!* & *i finally stopped trying to get my degree, and focused on raising my family.* sorry, spellcheck is often a pain!

  4. I agree as we evaluate our performance in various areas of life, we tend to focus on our shortcomings rather than our victories. An even better approach, I think, would be to spend far less time evaluating ourselves altogether. Society indoctrinates us to constantly conduct self-assessment. Scriptures frees us to praise God as the beautiful broken vessels we are.

  5. I think Kristie put it very well. I struggle with the same things dear lady, and might I add we both are great writers. Keep it up.

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