By Jeff Miller
Have you ever been on an artist date? Di and I recently went on one to the Chicago Art Expo. It was inspiring to walk down the aisles, past booth after booth of amazing works of art from around the world. To stop and observe drawings, paintings, mixed mediums and sculptures. To observe the various techniques, colors and textures. To try understanding an artist’s perspective and what is being expressed through their piece. Our time together was great and led to rich conversations about why we were intrigued by some pieces and uninterested in others.
One theme that stood out for me was how depth and dimension were introduced. It got me thinking about how you and I are multi-dimensional beings, made up of multiple aspects. And why is it that we often treat ourselves and others as one dimensional and neglect looking at who we are holistically?
Understanding the varied aspects we are made of as well as what we have and have yet to accomplish are key components in being real with ourselves. There are now many useful tools which provide insights and data points, from life maps to gifts, temperament and personality tests. These tools have enabled me to experience freedom through discovering new truths about myself and dispelling myths I have held.
As helpful as these tools are, I’ve come to realize there are some shortcomings to be aware of.
- They essentially capture one dimensional snapshots of individual points within our identity. These data points, when looked at on their own, can be limited in illuminating the multiple aspects and dimensional depth we holistically embody.
- Their outcome, depending on how we approach the exercises, can reveal either a narrow view of who we believe ourselves to be or a broad view of who we have the potential to become.
- They do not account for things that could hold us back from fully realizing our potential that God has uniquely made and purposed us to be.
In order to capture our varied aspects, I would propose a process of connecting the multiple dots revealed in these assessments. First to establish a framework comprised of our gifts, talents, motivation, personality and strengths. Then begin fleshing out that skeleton by overlaying pieces from our family of origin, our achievements and our past experiences. From this, we will begin to see a more holistic view of how we have been shaped physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Many artists or space designers use a similar process while creating a sculpture or a renovation project. Di and I used a comparable method during a couple home rehabs. First we measured the space, and then translated those dimensions into floor plans, elevations and details for the trades to work from. Larger scale projects often translate these plans into 3D renderings and models to aid in visualizing what the final project may look like.
Realize this may sound like a lot of work and a bit overwhelming. Yes, it does take effort. But I believe it can be very fulfilling and ultimately worth the effort. Yes, it can be intense. But that is one of many reasons why I believe it is crucial to do life in community and not solo.
So how do you go about looking at a holistic view yourself and others?