This is a painting that spoke to me as soon as I saw it. I could see the noose around the neck immediately and it reminded me of a hangman’s noose. Only when I looked at it more closely did I see that it was really a scarf.
This is what Gwen herself says about this painting Adjusting the Noose on her website
This is a very dark painting of Home Economics and the traditions we pass down from generation to generation. The mother in the background is adjusting the noose round her daughter’s neck as if it were an heirloom scarf. The mother is pale and empty while there is still life in the daughter. The daughter is looking at her mother and herself in the mirror and asking questions. The viewer stands in the position of the mirror. As her reflection how will we answer her questions? “How do I look? Does it fit me?” “I don’t want to hurt my mother. How do I honor my mother and live my life free? ” “Is there an appropriate time and place to wear this?” “Does it match my outfit and my life? Can I wear it in public and take it off at home?” “What if it becomes comfortable?” “Will my daughter wear it?” So many questions. So many ideas and concepts and attitudes that we hand down to our daughters without even realizing we are placing a noose around their necks.
This is a sort of captivity that often goes unnoticed. A captivity that really is a sort of enslavement to ideas of the past, ideas that others taught may have taught us in good faith but are now stopping us being all that we can be.
Families and captivity
One of the biggest responsibilities a parent has is to train a child up in the way that they should go. Notice it is the way the child should go. How many of us are trained in the way that our parents have gone whether that is a good thing or not? Children have this innate ability to learn from following their parents’ example. Something that can be quite scary when you see how they have copied the things that you did not want them to do.
It is not easy breaking free from this kind of captivity and so you can become the person you were designed to be. Often the hardest step is recognising that you are being held captive by the ideas of others. After all, they were so well-meaning and they had your best interests at heart.
Sometimes their ideas come from their own sense of hurt or brokenness. They have been hurt somehow they want to protect those they care for from being hurt as well.
An example of captivity
Ever had an injury that meant at least part of you was held still while it healed. What happens? When it has healed enough so that you can move it again, it hurts as it has to relearn how to move again. If you are not prepared to relearn how to move it again then you will lose the ability to move it again that way. That is why we need a medically trained person who can encourage us to move our body in the right way. (Here in the UK we would call them a physiotherapist.)
When I fell and landed heavily on my arm, it was fastened up in a sling for a while. Someone I knew who had injured their arm a long time before, showed me how they could not stretch their arm out straight anymore. They could move it so it was not quite straight but you could still see it was slightly bent. It had been like that for years. They had settled for that level of ability.
I saw a physiotherapist who worked with me to improve the range of movement in my arm. When I told her I had done an interesting exercise with it i.e. made a very large chocolate cake she said if I could do that, then my arm was strong enough for everyday tasks. She also had me stretch my arm out and said that there was enough movement in it so did not need another appointment to see her.
The physiotherapist might have been satisfied, but I was not. I wanted to do everything I used to do before and that included doing the ironing in the same place that I had done before I fell. I did not want to be left restricted in any shape or form. In order to do the ironing in the same place, I had to find a way to plug the iron into the socket behind the couch. This meant stretching my weakened arm to its full extent. I was determined to do it and it was not long before I could.
I kept going, kept trying and my arm was as good as new. My arm was not stuck and unable to move past a certain point. It had not been left captive by the after-effects of the accident.
How does this apply to you?
Remember the lady in the picture is wearing a scarf that could be mistaken for a noose. From one perspective it seems quite innocent but from another, it is more like a hangman’s noose. The things that hold us captive can be like that innocent from one perspective and deadly from another.
What have you settled for? What have you not done because of what you have learnt from others? Do you know that what they thought was right, was right for you?