52-Week Art Journal

Week 7: Mending Hearts

It’s Week 7 of the 52-Week Art Journal Journey, and Valentine’s week, a good time for a heart project.

If you’re new here, click to learn more.

You’ll need your journal, colored tissue paper (I’m using bleeding tissue paper, but that’s not necessary), or other colored paper if you don’t have tissue paper, scissors, a paintbrush you don’t mind getting gluey, Mod Podge or white glue mixed with a little water, and a pen or pencil.

If you decide to share any of your art on social media to invite others to reclaim their creativity, please @melindavanry and/or #artjournalwithmelinda.

Watch this week’s video, or scroll beyond to read our prompt.


Our hearts

I started with four colors of tissue paper—red, yellow, blue, and purple—cut down to a bit smaller than my journal page. You probably learned as a kid how to fold paper in half to cut a nice even heart. I folded my uneven little stack in half and cut out four colored hearts at once. And kept the scraps for more art fun.

After you have your hearts, you need to draw a large outline of a heart in your journal. As with any of our single-page small art that needs to dry, if you’re right-handed draw your heart on the left page, and if you’re left-handed draw your heart on the right. This will let you journal on the opposite page without worrying about getting your hand in your wet art.

Don’t worry about how neatly you can draw your heart. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Life can be hard on a heart

Sometimes things happen in life that make our hearts feel… crushed… torn… broken. Life can hurt. And even when we know loss is part of life, that doesn’t make it easy.

We can represent the heart damage life can do with our tissue-paper hearts. Tear them… Crinkle them up…

Have you ever felt like your heart has been beaten up?

How does your heart feel now?

As long as our hearts are beating, we have the potential for healing.

Colorful mending

We’re going to take our beat up pieces of tissue-paper hearts and we’re going to piece them together with our Mod Podge or our white glue.

Use your paintbrush to cover the heart you drew in your journal with the glue, then start putting pieces together in the wet glue. You can shape pieces of tissue paper around the edges, and spread them toward the middle. If you want to make things easier and smoother on the edges, you could use your scissors. But pieces don’t need to be precise or smooth.

As you go “paint” everything down with your Mod Podge or glue.

Today’s journaling

For journaling today, think about a specific experience when you felt like your heart was torn. Or crushed. Or broken.

You got through it.

And, today you’re here, making art.

Does your heart feel healed from that experience? Or are you feeling like it will never be the same again?

The thing is, through all of our experiences, we are never quite the same again.

But, whether they’re experiences we enjoyed, or they hurt, life keeps going.

Maybe sometimes even when we wish it wouldn’t.

But, as I said, as long as we have life, we can heal.

Am I saying it’s always easy? Of course not.

But as we talked about when we talked about emotions, just ignoring things doesn’t fix them.

We need to acknowledge that we’ve been hurt. How can you heal from something you don’t admit is broken, or damaged?

This is true about ourselves, and our relationships.

And maybe the hurt you’re thinking of is the result of something that someone else did. And maybe part of your healing will involve forgiving that person.

Forgiveness isn’t an easy thing. It can be even more difficult when we think it requires more in our situation than it does.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean giving up necessary boundaries. It doesn’t necessarily mean having the same relationship with the person as you had before. But it does mean letting go of your need to punish that person (which isn’t the same as wanting someone “rescued” from natural or legal consequences). It does mean being willing to let go of the pain. So it does mean setting yourself free.

Again, I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m not saying it’s necessarily a once-and-done thing either. You may find yourself revisiting the pain and the anger, and needing to let it go again.

Changing hearts

Yes, our hearts change as we go through life. They can feel like they expand when we fall in love or make new friends or become a parent.

They can feel like they shrink when we’re hurt.

They can feel shattered.

But feelings ebb and flow.

We don’t want to let our hearts become hard by staying crippled by our pain.

Healing is always possible. But it can hurt to work toward it.

Journal it out

Think about that situation…

If you still feel broken, what do you think it would require for you to heal?

If you feel healed, what happened, what did you do, that brought about that healing?

It’s never just as simple as time, is it?

If you’re still waiting for, or seeking healing, think about what in the situation is within your power to change. We can’t change other people. And we can’t always change all of our circumstances, especially not all at once.

If it feels like it’s all too much, too big, maybe you need to talk to someone about it. Maybe that can help you with your perspective, and also give you someone to help bolster your strength and courage.

Maybe it’s getting back to your faith and its root truths.

Maybe it’s about letting go of something, some unmet expectation that allows you to rationalize not moving forward.

And maybe you just need to give yourself a break, let yourself off the hook.

We are imperfect people in imperfect relationships with imperfect people in an imperfect world.

And because of all that imperfection, all the brokenness, pain and suffering, it can seem like we have an imperfect God also.

Feeling like things had to make more sense to me, that things had to feel more like I felt they should, is something that I’m learning to let go of, so that I can move forward in my faith, and continue to grow more whole.

Helping healing

To be honest, I’d like to be able to give anyone reading this with a damaged heart, everyone in the world who hurts and longs for healing, some type of magic healing bandage. But that’s not something I can do. It’s not something any person can do.

We can’t heal others. We can only do the work required in our own healing, which includes letting go, and letting it happen.

We can support our loved ones, our family members, our friends, our church families, our communities, as needs arise. And the more whole we are, the more equipped we are to help others.

It’s important to remember if you’re drawn to helping others, that not everyone’s pain is your responsibility. You need to remember that you can’t fix it. You can’t fix them. We need to walk that never-ending line of discerning how we’re helping or how we may instead be feeding the brokenness through enabling or allowing others to take advantage instead of taking responsibility for themselves.

That is not quite the direction I though this week’s prompt was going. However, for some of us, actually many of us, healing requires learning how to set healthy boundaries. And that can. be. hard. It can cause situations that will further hurt our hearts… but make them stronger, and more capable of being a true help to those who need it, instead of a doormat for those just taking advantage.

What I can offer

What I can do in this context, for you, is share tools, and sometimes experiences, to help you with your experiences and circumstances.

I’m sharing art journaling. Because of the difference it has made for me. I’m encouraging you to make a regular habit of creative self-care. Because reclaiming my art has changed every area of my life. I need to make art. And if that’s you, don’t let life stop you. Even if you’re here on the 52-Week Art Journal Journey, that may not be you, however, you do need to be taking regular time to be creative in a way that is meaningful to you.

I’ve found that encouraging people to reclaim their creativity is part of my purpose, and, therefore, part of my healing.

Your healing

Take some time to journal about that something that deeply hurt your heart.

If you feel healed, even if there’s a scar that’s kind of tight so when your heart is stretched it feels a little uncomfortable still, or if you feel you still have a gaping wound, journaling is a powerful tool, both to help us process and give us perspective. Sometimes the act of writing the words, putting them right out there in black and white, gives us a power over the pain that we felt we lacked.

If you feel victorious over this area of hurt, write about what happened, especially about what you did, in order to get to this point of healing. And then keep your eyes open for opportunities to share what you learned with someone struggling similarly.

If you’re still feeling broken, my hope and my prayer for you is some perspective, a deeper understanding of the facets of the situation. And unshakable confidence in the fact that you survived it, and there will be beauty from the ashes.

You are beautiful. As is your heart. It may feel kind of smashed up, or even mangled at times, but you are more that what has happened to you, and more than anything that you’ve done that may have hurt others.

Your heart is healing.

And if you don’t know it yet, you’re going to know by the end of this week’s journaling that you want to grow.

Thank you for joining me again this week. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to encourage you to reclaim your creativity and establish your own habit of creative self-care.

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