There are days when I want someone to come up to me and say, “I see you. I see you as a mess of lovely and broken. Wretchedness and redemption. You make me as angry as you make me raving mad with passion and I am for you.”
Perhaps it’s my penchant for a certain Brontë sisters novel that evokes these types of emotions. Maybe it’s just another day where loneliness has toyed with the frayed ends of my patchwork heart. Perhaps these emotions don’t only stem from a desire to be loved, but simply to know that the mark I am leaving on the world means something. Even typing that out seems selfish, but it’s a thought I’m having trouble fighting.
Where is the line between legacy and ego? Between helping others and helping oneself? Between the mark you think you’re leaving and the one you actually leave?
I am a firm believer that once you start buying into the hype of your own legacy, it ceases to become about leaving anything behind except for a flattering portrait of yourself. Museums are full of those portraits. They’re pretty enough to look at, but soon all the faces blur together.
Until one day you stumble across something like this painting. I remember when I first met her. I thought she was just some peasant girl. And then I read the plaque: Joan of Arc.
This is not the Joan of Arc I know. Where is her coat of mail? Her horse? The fire of war in her eyes? This is the legacy of Joan of Arc.
Yet Jules Bastien-Lepage captured a different legacy. That of a girl who was simple. A hard worker. Curious. Full of wonder and of faith. And yet, there seems to be a touch of resignation in her face, as if she knows what is about to become of her.
When I see this painting, I realize this is how I want to be remembered. Not like everyone else with a big platform and many words to say. I don’t need to be a best selling author or even a martyr. My life is not dependent on the desire of another to make me feel complete. I need to be the woman I am: a mess of wretchedness and redemption; lovely and broken.
A woman called.
A woman redeemed.