here's what's trickling down. as much as you may think this is a no-brainer, i actually physically pause before writing this sentence, because it is difficult and fraught with a lot of inner wrestling. here it is:
i am an artist.
i am an artist. art is not my hobby, it is not a side-game, it is not an additive. art does not just enhance my life and my home. i do not have these skills for decoration or to accessorize my real vocation. i have been created by my Creator to create.
that, in all honesty, has brought tears to my eyes to write for the world to see.
now, as i said, you may think this is no new news. i make art, ergo, i am an artist. well, being seen as something and accepting yourself as something are completely different things. let me share this weeks aha moment from non-fiction number 1, the artist's way, by julia cameron.
Most of us harbour a secret belief that work has to be work and not play, and that anything we really want to do - like write, act, dance - must be considered frivolous and be placed a distant second. This is not true. We are operating out of the toxic old idea that God's will for us and our will for us are at opposite ends of the table...
Most of us equate difficulty with virtue - and art with fooling around. Hard work is good. A terrible job must be building our moral fibre. Something - a talent for painting say - that comes to us easily and seems compatible with us must be some sort of cheap trick, not to be taken seriously. On the one hand, we give lip service to the notion that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. On the other, we secretly think that God wants us to be broke if we are going to be so decadent as to want to be artists. Do we have any proof at all for these ideas about God?
Looking around God's creation, it is pretty clear that the creator itself did not know when to stop. ..This creator looks suspiciously like someone who just might send us support for our creative ventures.
okay, that's long. i hope i haven't trampled on some copyright laws, but reading that the other night, sirens were blaring in my head. i struggle every day with guilt. i think of my friends slaving away as nurses or teachers or stay-at-home moms with little ones, and believe that i am not doing enough. even though i clearly heard God calling me to rest for a few months, i question it. i question and question and question. and then i think about what comes next, and it can't be more of the same. it surely can NOT be that i get to be at home, creating paintings, meeting with friends, caring for my children and house, entering and sustaining intentional relationships, hosting and puttering. how can it be that i get to do what i love?
and then, there's another voice that tells me i'm not a good enough painter to sell works anyways, so i better start job hunting if i want to financially contribute. i do not have the luxury to do what i love. here's the dry goods: i have sold one painting in 2013. i've had paintings auctioned off, and have traded work for renovations, but have only once deposited money in the bank account. this makes me feel....like i'm painting just for my own pleasure, and therefore it's not all that important. i feel like my work is not worth what i think it is. i feel like to continue to be an artist is selfish and irresponsible and foolish. i am just not good enough at either painting or marketing myself to have this as my career. enter non-fiction number 2, on the way, by Gordon smith.
A Christian mind is necessarily informed by two crucial attitudes: humility and gratitude. Growth in faith is dependent on growth in humility and growth in gratitude.
Humility is simply living in the truth - recognizing the reality and character of God and living in personal dependence on God as Creator and Saviour. However, humility also has a social dimension: how we see ourselves within human community....humility is just as much opposed to self-abasement as it is to self-exaltation. to be humble to is refuse to make comparisons. We can engage the task we are called to do without the bondage of making comparisons. This means that we are now freed form the crushing blow of criticism and from the headiness of flattery.
yeeouch!! to refuse to make comparisons. to paint because of the simple truth that i've been called and created to do it. (i'm underlining that because i'm yelling it at myself).
work "as though working for the Lord"
yes, there are financial considerations. but i am not called to carry that burden - i'm called to follow. to live wide-eyed and open-eared daily to the direction God's taking me. me. not other artists or friends or strangers. i must humbly work, with gratitude.
non-fiction number 3 is daring greatly by brene brown. which is pushing me to be vulnerable and courageous, which is why i'm writing this post. and why i will continue to place little bits of my heart on the end of a paintbrush and smush it across a canvas.
i am an artist. today i have an empty house and a full easel. off i go to bravely follow.