by Jennifer Lane
My name is Jennifer Lane and I am an artist. I still smile every time I say that. I would like to tell you a little bit about my journey with pain and art. As a very active, driven, mother of three, wife, Christian and office manager of a very busy attorney’s office (my dream job), I didn’t know how to sit and relax. I started working at age 16 and my life was tied up in working hard and what I could accomplish. Right around the time that I was graduating with my Associates degree and turning 30, my body started betraying me. It started with pain and debilitating fatigue. Of course, being the driven person I was, I went to work and tried to take care of all my other responsibilities, but within a few months I was having to use a walker. Out of necessity, I learned that pushing myself was causing my symptoms to worsen to the point of complete exhaustion. After only four great years at my dream job, I had to quit working, had to have a major bowel surgery and my life as it had been, came to a screeching halt. I felt like a complete and utter failure, but later learned that life wasn’t over, it was just different.
The Trinity (Matthew 28:19) 12x16 on Pastelmat.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
I went through a very dark depressing time; a time of comparing my current life to the one I once had, a time of loneliness, being used to being around people all the time, to being at home all day alone. I felt my body was betraying me. I had a very active brain that wanted to be busy but a body that refused. I will never forget that feeling of hopelessness. As a believer, deep down, I knew that God had a plan for me, but I just couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“My disability doesn’t control me, I chose every day to choose joy!”
One day, bored out of my mind, I saw a sketch pad of my sons’ laying on a table. My thinking was, why not give it a shot; I have nothing else to do. Even though I had been creative, I had never been able to draw. So, I bought a set of pencils and watched some simple YouTube tutorials. My drive came in handy because I started to learn quickly. I found I was pretty good at drawing from photos and over time decided that I need color in my life. All the prayers I had been praying about needing something of my own, were coming to fruition. God had been there listening and he knew my pain and he knew my depression. He knew that I needed goals to reach and something beautiful to show for my misery, despite my disability. I started signing my pieces with a cross beside it and named my pieces after my favorite scriptures.
Drawing, learning, and talking to others on Facebook about colored pencils, quickly became a hobby that took up most of my alone time. I was finding my art chosen for The Pencil Box showcase, finding my artwork in art magazines, and donating my time writing articles and tutorials for these magazines. Then in January of 2022, I was chosen to be the featured artist in a magazine, and I finally felt like a success despite my disability.
Reflections #2 (Easton 5 years old) 12x16 on pastelmat.
My son, when he was little, loved to imitate my husband in everything he did. He would pretend to shave, work on things with his play tools and he even dressed as his daddy for Halloween.
I guess by now you want to find out what was wrong with me. After 12 years of pain and fatigue, the progression of my symptoms was getting scary. I found myself not able to stand for long and not being able to walk far. My legs would fall out from under me when necessity called for me to push myself. I started walking with a slight waddle and fatigue kept me in bed more often. I was spending my whole day in an inclined bed to draw or to do anything. The painful flare-ups came much more often and started to affect my ability to lift my arms over my head. I had to find answers. A family member started having some of my unique symptoms and it was suggested that we have genetic testing done.
“My thinking was why not give it a shot; I have nothing else to do.”
Come to find out all this time, I had been suffering from Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 1C, a very rare form of the disease. I waited 19 months to see a specialist to find out that no treatment was available. The doctor told me that because it is a genetic disease and based in the very building blocks of my muscles, no treatment is available, and I would see that doctor once a year only to analyze progression.
Luke 12:28 12x16 on Pastelmat.
And if God care so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you.
What I have learned through all of this, is that God loves me and has a plan and a future for me. He has given me an amazing family and church family who are very supportive. I have learned how much art can do for a person, how it can give you an outlet like no other to express the things that are going on inside. I learned that life isn’t about what I get to do or get done but about finding myself and putting that into what comes out of me; my art, my ministry and how to love others. I don’t have to be let down by what my body has become. I feel more of a push to fight and to not give up on living and trying to be the best me possible. I have learned to figure out how to make my body work for me; to accept that it takes me longer to do things. An art piece may take me months to accomplish but I put my whole self into it and in return that is success!!! I have learned that I can’t express myself the way I used to, but why would I want to when I can express it through my art. To use my God given gift to show others HIS beauty, is all I could every ask for. My disability doesn’t control me, I chose every day to choose joy!
ABOUT JENNIFER LANE:
Jennifer Lane is a wife and mother of three kids. May of 2009, she developed severe pain and later was diagnosed with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy 1C, a rare form of the disease. In 2014, she picked up a pencil and learned to draw by watching YouTube and then colored pencils and PanPastels. Her art has been featured in several art magazines, blogs, and local publications. Jennifer is very involved in her church and credits her accomplishments to her love for the Lord and his faithfulness.