I turned the keys of my home of the last 10 years in Minneapolis over to new owners on April 1, 2016. That morning I got in my car to drive to the closing and it flashed a message. “Steering column locked. Call Saab.” I called Saab, scheduled a tow for later that day and borrowed a friend’s car to drive across town and sign the papers. By 10 a.m. I was officially homeless.

Over the next 30 days—while waiting to move into the apartment I rented in Chicago—I was taken in by a number of friends. I was sheltered, given companionship, listened to and embraced. Included.

It was harder than I ever imagined to be the one counting on others to get through this time without a place that was “mine.”

Though I was aware this experience was far from what true refugees and homeless people endure, I was also aware that God was giving me an experience out of my comfort zone that seemed a direct answer to words I’ve prayed consistently since 2013 when I started the Living School. 

Lord, strip me. Soften me.

Remove all that is not needed for your will to be done through me.

I knew going to graduate school at this stage in my life would rearrange many of the external pieces of my existence —

But, would it also reorder my interior?

Gratefully — and painfully — yes. Beyond my comprehension. Leaving behind an external identity (home, car, consulting contract, social network, spiritual community) has me writing in my journal:

Losing sight of my self, it seems, is God’s greatest gift to me right now.

And so, this painting called “Homecoming” (the first in a body of work called “Becoming”) came forward May 31. It’s about letting God break the container and surrendering to the process of becoming who you are in Christ —nothing more, nothing less.

The meditation that accompanies this piece is:

I let go of my idea of myself.

Author: Julie Ann Stevens

My art flows from the patterns & paths of my lived experience which ⏤ like yours ⏤ are at once deeply personal and entirely universal.

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