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Bindi Cole Chocka

Published in Blak Wave, as part of the 2014 Next Wave Festival.

I used to be angry. Angry at the world and how it had treated me.  Angry at people and how they behave. Didn’t they know better? I picked fights with people - the man at the call center, the woman who wouldn’t break the rules for me at the bank and of course, my parents. And this was just the surface stuff.  I had no grace. I was angry with myself. Everything flowed out of this anger: my behavior, destruction, relationships, voice and art. My art took aim at all that made me angry and everyone who was wrong in my eyes. I picked up offence at every opportunity. Not to discount that many of the things I was angry about didn’t deserve to be on that list. They did. It’s just that I wonder whether my continued anger and resentment at these things is helpful to others and myself.


I used to be afraid. Afraid of what others thought of me and that if I really stood up for what I believed in, I would be rejected. I lived in a state of fear. Somehow I still took risks but I was terrified of the outcome. I feared that people would leave me, judge me, not love me or even like me. Fear drove me. I wasn’t good enough. At nights I woke up afraid and so I held back. I made risky art and then would hide out the back of my own exhibition openings afraid to talk to people. 


Then everything changed. I experienced a supernatural spiritual explosion in my life. I fell in love with Jesus. So very uncool. I used to mock Christians, calling them out as weak, needing a crutch and unintelligent. Now I was becoming the very thing I looked down upon. Yet I couldn’t deny the resulting and complete transformative effect it was having on every aspect of my life, love, voice and art. 


Then it hit me! I was living as the victim. I had built my identity on all the wrongs that had been committed against me. For as long as I lived my life blaming everyone for everything, I was never going to be happy and whole. I was going to live in pain, hurt others and repeat the past. I had become a perpetrator of pain, a horrid person, yet I felt justified in my behavior because I was the victim. In that moment, I came to a place where I no longer desired justice for what had happened to me, but realised I needed forgiveness for what I had done and become. From here, I was able to begin to forgive others.


I moved away from the politics of the superficial – being angry at everything, blaming everyone and fearing what people might think to a more introspective examination of the spiritual.  I began to make artwork from this place.  My voice changed from one of blaming, resentfulness and self-righteousness to one of wholeness, healing and forgiveness.


I had to be true to myself. All of my artwork had been deeply personal, a reconciliation of my own identity. An identity that I could’ve sworn was fixed but was in fact, very fluid. That fluidity would and continues to take me on an amazing journey of self-discovery and catharsis. As my identity shifted, my artwork had to shift with it. I wouldn’t have any integrity if I kept the same voice with a different and new heart. I stopped looking into the past and started looking to the future. How could I move forward into a better life? I don’t mean materially better, that has never been a priority, I mean better in terms of peace, happiness, satisfaction and purpose. How could I help others move forward, rather than perpetuating and compounding anger, resentment and pain?


I began to explore the notion of forgiveness and discovered that it was one of the most powerful tools we have, yet one of the hardest actions to undertake. Choosing to forgive has completely re-empowered me. It’s the antidote to the poison of anger and fear that had consumed me. Suddenly past events, hurts, and people no longer held any power over me, didn’t live in my head and heart and were not stopping me from reaching my potential. It wasn’t about forgetting or saying that those things that happened are ok and at times it seemed like I was going to give those people/events more power but in truth, the opposite occurred and I got my power back. As I forgave and was forgiven, huge burdens I carried lifted off me, light as a feather. They no longer existed within and a true freedom replaced them. From that point, I was a peaceful, happier, healthier and more effective artist, activist, human, carer and lover.


It’s not the easy path. From my experience, people revel in being angry. I was one of them. The evidence is all around us. We are living in a world that is so quick to pick up offence. We love to hate, to tear down people when they do something wrong and to dwell on everything that is wrong. Anger, hatred and offence are almost sexy, we relish them and sit behind our cool facades gossiping and smirking away at those that are on the current receiving end. 


So I’m choosing to be uncool. In two ways, firstly I love Jesus and secondly, I’m trying my best to not be offended by everything and to forgive those who do hurt me. It’s an effort and doesn’t come naturally. Sometimes, I have to forgive the same person 100 times until it takes, where the diatribe in my head stops and the offence is no longer there and I am free.


There is a place in life for anger and Jesus saved his most scathing remarks for the people of His time who brought condemnation and judgment, who acted pure and righteous on the outside but were filthy inside. Hypocrites. These men and women use whatever they can to validate their own hateful and misguided agendas. 


A person’s true nature is always revealed by their actions, as mine was. So I choose to forgive. I’m not forgetting, nor saying that it was right and that it doesn’t hurt or even that it’s easy, but I am saying that I, as a broken person requiring forgiveness, knows that freedom comes when I also forgive.  

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