By Grave Robber, I mean me. The Graverobber thing is a reference to my christianity (borrowed from Mr. Eric Samuel Timm, of course.He'll come into play later.). This is my Testimony.
Like a lot of kids who grew up in a christian home and got saved young, I never really felt like I had much to say about God's redemption and how much it means to be saved. I was a sheltered kid, only listened to christian music, only went to christian camps, went to youth group every thursday, church every sunday, went to bed at 9. Basically, I was a "goodie-two-shoes" growing up.
Around 7th grade, I guess people realized that and I wasn't cool. That year was the equivalent of hell on earth, and when my family announced we were moving away that summer, I was excited. 8th grade year, I made new friends and everything, but I still had a lot of issues, stemming from the bullying and everything.
When I got to high school, I wanted to do all the things every high schooler wants to do: Pass classes, have fun, get a really popular boyfriend, Make friends with the popular kids. And I did do most of those things, Freshman year was one of the best years so far in my life, great classes, great memories, awesome friends in my grade and in the graduating class. A couple really outlandish crushes that failed to develop into anything later, the good times were insignificant compared to my inferiority and image issues. I had it stuck in my head by the end of sophomore year, to be content with second place and that I wasn't attractive.
Backtracking a bit, Sophomore year was the year I got my first friend with (albeit limited) benefits/boyfriend. He is genuinely a really fun person and a good friend of mine to this day. Unfortunately, we were just not compatible, we had different goals, and I was a christian and he wasn't, and I wasn't exactly his first choice of girls around. I knew all of this, but I ignored it, thinking it was insignificant. I clamped my eyes shut, plugged my ears and blocked out every warning signal that something was wrong.
Somewhere in the time before we actually dated, I found out that he and some of the other important people in my life shared some demons. I then proceeded to ignore them. The bitterness, though, was something I couldn't ignore. I was increasingly lonely and I felt betrayed and desperate for some kind of attention, So I lashed out in anger at my family and cut myself off from my friends. I took the things that stole his attention and love from me personally, and I began to foster this intense burning hatred for them,and a curiosity for what was so special about them. Before long, that curiosity turned into an intention to display my spite for it by doing the same thing in return.
In the back of my mind, I knew it was wrong and I was really ashamed. I knew, and hid it. I never let anyone know. I hid it all under a veil of Hypocrisy, speaking out against the same thing that I was telling myself was okay because I was only doing it to make the people who had built up offenses against me angry. It made no sense, but then again, not a lot of things I did made any.
I did things I am not proud of and I tried to make it out to seem like no big deal. But I knew they were. I knew very well that I was falling away from my faith. I had let it slip, and I tried (and still try, when I feel that way) to blame it on other people, but I know it was and is no one else's fault but mine. I was in complete control of everything I did. I had control and I did extremely stupid things that still haunt me. I had this darkness inside me that had lurked in my peripheral vison.
I knew I had this potential to become a depressed, screwed up, addicted mess. I knew that the God I had served for the past 10-odd years of my life wouldn't approve of the choices I wanted to make, the choices I was making, and the choices I had made. So I tried to mold him into the kind of God who would. I fought him, I insulted him with the way that I lived, I hated everyone and everything. I was deceptive and I struggled with how much I dared to push the limits. I seriously considered cutting, I definitely considered sex, but thankfully let fear keep those thoughts from ever becoming action.
A year ago, I came back from the event that changed my life forever(corny, but overwhelmingly true), Soulfest 2008. I went to the last 2 days with a feeling of shakiness. I went looking for something, either to find the crack in my faith to stick the dynamite in to destroy it or to find the God I had lost. I needed to get something solid under my feet, and the most solid things in my life were art and music. So I thought, hey let's go with that and see where things go from there.
The first day I was there was when I started to see things happening. I had known, because I checked beforehand, that a painter who I had admired for a couple years was going to be there. His name is Eric Samuel Timm, and he had a booth and was selling prints and shirts from his clothing line. Looking to pick up some prints, I went to the booth and started flipping through the copied versions of familiar artwork. I found three that I liked and went to cash out, and when I was done, his wife Danielle told me he was up in the art gallery for a reception. I really had no expectation of seeing him or anything, but to see his real paintings would be awesome in and of itself. So I made my way up to the second floor area where the gallery was located.
I walked in and looked around, and sure enough he was no where to be seen. I went over to his paintings and just stared, dumbfounded that these images I had seen online were real. I leaned in to look at the brushstrokes and someone walked in behind me and said a quick "hey, how are you?". I just continued looking and replied with a non-chalant " Oh, I'm good, just looking at these paintings." Then he replied "Oh, well, I'm Eric. If you have any questions, I'm right here."
I guess I kind of understated how much I admire this guy. This man is my favorite artist (michaelangelo,davinci,Mucha... Timm is first on my list). I had been waiting for an opportunity to see him paint for 2 years! and now this guy was talking to me?! I pretty much went starstruck from that second on, and asked for an autograph, a photo, a conversation, whatever. I doodled him up a grave robber(one of his company's symbols) to say thanks.
The next thing I really remember is seeing the band Spoken play. I had heard a few of their songs, but I didn't really know a whole ton about them. At the show, Matt Baird, their lead singer came out to stand on the crowd barrier, just a few feet away from me. From where I was standing, I could see the tattoos on his arms and the ring on his left hand, I could see his mouth forming the words and his face contorting with emotion as he ripped into the screams and sang. Because of the value music had in my life at the time, I was captivated. He sang songs of desperation, and of love, of crawling back to God and of finding hope. He talked about salvation and the love of God, and he sang a song called "the meaning of..." about his wife and son. It resonated with something in my apathetic heart that was still sensitive to how God moves. I wanted that: I wanted a guy that loved God with that intensity,I wanted to be loved with that intensity. I wanted to see how God is jealous for me, and how he pines after me and wants my heart. Instantly I knew that for that to happen I had to free myself up to really love. As ridiculous as it may sound, after that moment, I lost all romantic ties to my then boyfriend.
The last day of the festival I went to watch Eric paint and heard his teaching on the piece he did, then dropped by Eric's booth. When I went up to say hi, he told me how he was going to try to get in touch with me to buy the drawing I had given him for use in his company. I was insanely giddy, and ran around looking for people I knew to share the good news with. Over the last year, Eric and I have emailed back and forth with the possibility of some other work for NOU, including the design that started with the doodle I gave him back then. He's become somewhat of a mentor for me (whether it is intentional or not remains to be seen) and I find that incredible. 3 or 4 years ago, I was begging to order his merchandise over the internet and now, something I've done might be sold alongside his. These things don't just randomly happen, and I know that now. It was God trying to get my attention.
I'm gonna try to end this now, because it is probably gonna kill someone's attention span as it is. I just have so much to say, too many things to talk about. In such a short amount of time, I've realized the liberating love of Christ can be felt in the numbest, coldest heart. I feel like I'm a completely different person from who I was before, knowing the grace that covers me. In the past year, I've been feeling a calling into ministry, and I plan on applying to a bible college in California. I'm not trying to prove anything to anyone in this, I just want to give back to God what he gave me: my full life. If his plan is for me to minister, then I'll do it. If his plan is for me to do the art thing, I'll do that. The most important thing to me right now is to please God. Everything else is secondary.