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Overcoming Propensities

Starla Halfmann

I painted "Overcoming Propensities" in 2009. It has long since sold but I'd like to share the inspiration behind the painting. 

There are six ducks in the painting 3 smaller ones in the back 3 larger ones in the front. One of my neighbors loved to refer to them as Vegas ducks because  they look like they are lit up. As I continued to work out the details in the painting, each duck began to develop it’s own personality. 

On a side note, sometimes people I’m close to show up in my art as different animals. One of the ducks in particular was very familiar to me and I soon realized it reminded me of one of my friends. I never told her but when she saw the painting she walked over to it, pointed at the duck, and exclaimed "that’s me!" I shook my head in agreement. 

Once the painting was almost completed, It soon became a game to point out which duck you  identified with. My neighbors would talk about the different personalities of each bird. One description was particularly hilarious to me. An alpha male type decided he was the duck with the large red, white, and navy marking on its side. I asked why and he said “Because that duck has a large bleeding wound and there is still a dagger stuck in it and it’s still swimming STRONG!” I responded  “So, you’re telling me you’re wounded and instead of dealing with your issues you’re continuing to coast along as if nothing is wrong?" 

Eventually, I finished the painting and had it hanging in my bedroom and was praying about the title and the word propensity popped in my head. I looked up the definition and  then  it became clear. Propensity is an inclination or natural tendency to behave in a particular way.

The three ducks in the back are dealing with propensities towards being wounded, blaming the past/putting on a façade(heavy adornments decorate this duck), and the final duck being insecurity. If you connect the ducks in the back with the one diagonal to it in front, you get a healed duck, a duck that is looking forward/loves itself, and a self-confident duck that is leading the pack and resembles a flag. The ducks leading are mature, and moving forward unlike the 3 ducks in the back who seem stagnant and adolescent. Even the water they are sitting in is stagnant. Basically, I painted three ducks overcoming propensities.


How do I relate to this painting? I relate it to my faith and repentance through my relationship with Jesus. I have been each duck dealing with a propensity towards a certain sin and through Christ I eventually overcame that sin and that propensity towards it. 

Self-pity due to a deep insecurity because I didn't know who I was. Once I found Jesus and really discovered my identity in him and that he approved of me and died on the cross for my sins. I repented for my sins, accepted his sacrifice, and I was saved. I was approved of and fearfully and wonderfully made by God my father. (Psalm 139:14) I began to study what he said about me and rejected what the world said, what others had said, and even the lies I had told myself. I renewed my mind with what his word said about me.

 Un-forgiveness because I was wounded and felt justified in my anger and hate. To hate someone in your heart is actually the equivalent of killing them. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 1 John 3:15 I confessed that I had hated others, I asked for the Lord's forgiveness and repented. I realized if Jesus could forgive me and die a horrible death for me taking on all my sin I could forgive those who hurt me. I asked Him to help me with this one and he did. 

Bitterness and discontentment - I remained stuck always looking at the past with anger, bitterness, and discontentment. This bled into every relationship and would destroy them. I surrendered my past, present, and future to God. I confessed the bitterness and disappointments with how things had gone. I repented for the bitterness and letting it drive me. I choose to be content and trust God with it all and take him at His word. I decided to invite him into it and ask Him to heal me.

One of the biggest lies I've ever heard is "people don't change". You do change when you have the Creator of the universe preforming surgery on your heart and leading you into the Truth through his Holy Spirit. I realized I had to choose to change and take responsibility for my sin/wrongs and that I had no idea how to be a "good person" by God's standard so I asked Him to do a work in me. 

Gal 5:22-23 2 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

It's been a slow process but He has been faithful and He always completes the work he starts.