VanessaFinding balance is the hard work of recovery. Right relationships with God and others, healthy choices, attitudes, feelings and behaviors. Easier said than done as the ladies of the Lighthouse, a twelve-month, faith-based, residential treatment program for women recovering from substance abuse know all too well. Invited to create a composition where the area outside the circle represented their life impacted by addiction and inside represented the balance they were finding in recovery, there was an impressive variety of creative responses.

One of the most creative was Vanessa’s composition of multicolored fingerprints representing the chaos of her pre-recovery life. Seemingly up to her elbows in paint, I cautioned her to be careful about getting paint on her clothes as it wouldn’t wash out if allowed to dry. She quickly lifted an arm to reveal numerous paint stains on one sleeve. Positively philosophical, she merely affirmed, “This will be my art shirt from now on.” But I also admired how she’d shifted the outer chaotic fingerprints to three black foot prints symbolic of the classic spiritual poem of the person who believes she is alone and abandoned only to find that Jesus has been carrying her all along. The shifting of repeating images in a person’s artwork is one of the hallmarks of progress I often point out to the women during our therapeutic art workshops. Fingerprints also appear around the edge of her “finding balance” circle but they are more organized and purposeful, probably indicative of a life beginning recovery.

Mayla's MomLayla’s mom took a creative approach that was quite inventive – the pink petals of her very stylized flower represented all the lies she told to herself and others pretending everything was OK in life when in fact it were quite the opposite. That’s the kind of art work participants are encouraged to take to a therapy session to unpack, explore, process and transform. Although essentially simple in design, it is nevertheless quite a complex image worthy of attention.

And, of course, there is always at least one art maker who envisions the art directive in a slightly different fashion. Jamie, tired of focusing on her past hurt and pain, decided to reinterpret the “finding balance” circle as a sun with radiating spokes declaring her redemption in Christ. The inner circle reveals images of renewal, a restored family, and an abiding hope in the future. The fruits of the Spirit surround, and are representative of,  a renewed life in her faith-based recovery.


This is all pretty great stuff especially when all you do is give a group of woman an 11×14 piece of Bristol board, a 7″ circle. a pencil and some paints and say, “Create an image of “finding balance” between what life was and what it is becoming.” On balance, all things considered, I feel pretty blessed to have worked with all these wonderful women who have come through the Lighthouse program over the last six years.

If you were to create an image that represented finding balance in you life, what would it look like. What fingerprints of chaos have been transformed in you life? What pink petals might you still be hiding behind? What images of renewal and restoration would be included in your inner circle? On balance, all things considered, what has blessed you this week, this month, this year?

1 comment to Balance

  • Aahmes Overton

    Lynne – these are rich – even inspiring – images of balance, healing and future. Thanks

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