She is four and creates art with a passion that overflows from her soul. She lives her life with this same passion. She sings and dances and performs. I am learning so much about life through watching our youngest daughter. She creates art with her life. She doesn't let self doubt or fear stop her. She simply lives. We are all created by God to be artists. Our art is as unique as our lives. Creating art is more than mastering the technical aspects of a trade or craft. Art is something much more than technique. It is what unfolds when we live our lives with passion. It is something that is felt and seen but not measured.
I have been reading A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman over the last year. Reading and re-reading. Yes, this book has spoken to me in many ways. I've realized that art isn't merely what we create with our talents and passions but how we live our life. "Art is what happens when you dare to be who you really are. You have the power to influence, to move, to make, to become. You have the capacity to perform the human act of making art, of doing work that comes from deep within you and touches something deep within me." Emily continues, "We make art with our lives. When a mother who thought she had no voice begins to realize her voice matters, a student who believed he was biding his time to live life for real begins to discover life in today, and a writer begins to tell her story, a servant opens his hands, and a believer finally believes--art comes out."
As my daughter paints, life abounds from her. She doesn't know it yet, but she is in tune with what makes her alive. I remember when I had our first child, I felt alive in ways that I had never experienced. Mothering and now teaching our children, are ways I create art. I feel alive and I want to glorify God through these passions. You know without doubt when you see someone alive in what they are doing. It could be your child's teacher at school. Or a friend who shows hospitality to everyone who enters her home. A wife who loves her husband the best she can, showing grace and mercy through years spent together. Art is not just what someone creates with a brush or an instrument. It is a way of living your life. Our Maker created us all to live this way, but somewhere along the way we start to forget what makes us feel alive. We can get into our daily routine; sometimes accepting mediocrity, and never take the time to embrace life in the way God intended for us.
For many, you know your passion. You know what you would love to do IF you had time and IF you were good enough. Something is stopping you from showing up. There will always be something trying to stop us from showing up.
Fear of failure and rejection stands in the forefront. This can be especially true for those perfectionists (such as myself) that want to do it right or not at all.
As my daughter creates art she has NO fear of rejection or failure. I have purposely let her create without limitations, so that she can explore and do what makes her feel alive. I have not taught her technique or skills, but given her a brush and freedom.
I need to give myself this same brush of freedom. To live and try and fail. To not worry if I will mess up and say the wrong thing or say it the wrong way. I need to give myself the freedom to embrace failure so that I can fully sink into Him.
In a world filled with social media, the artist in all of us can freeze. We see the best of what everyone decides to share. Their best work, their best house, their best vacations, their best parenting. We can let this take over and never move, or we can embrace our uniqueness in God and move forward. We are His. I loved these words from Emily. "You are the beloved. So be loved. Receive your belovedness and then hand it out, receive grace and be gracious to others, remember your image-bearing identity and move into the world with a job to do. Show up as you are with what you've been given. And don't allow the voice of doubt and discouragement to hold you back. " God does not want fear to stop us. He wants us to head straight into that fear and realize we cannot do life without Him. Not one of us can. Let yourself fail and know you gave it your heart. My hope is that we would all create our art and hang it with confidence, just as my daughter did with her creation.
Many of us never move forward because someone else can do it better. In her book, Emily shares that often we fear that "someone else can write better, love better, lead better, speak better, teach better, design better, parent better or pray better." And the truth is simple. They can. I think many of us need to read and re-read these words that Emily shared from her friend and counselor Steve Lynam, "There is no new truth, dear. All truth belongs to God. Sometimes you simply need to hear someone else say it." Emily went on to say, "You may not be the first to say it, write it, create it, or believe it-but you saying it may be the first time someone finally hears. Yes, someone else can say it better, but that doesn't mean you can't say it too. Throw out your inhibitions and spin around in this crazy world of recycled ideas. There is nothing new to say. Say it anyway."
When I read that I just might have shouted Amen. I needed to read that and I believe many of you do as well. I have a passion to use my camera to capture the beauty I see in my family. I could spend my days stifled because someone has already done this and done it better. Amazing photography can be seen daily online or in publications. But, I am not picking up my camera to be better than anyone. I am not picking up my camera for the world. I am using my my God given gifts to create from my heart and ultimately to Glorify Him. This is why I was made to create and I cannot forget this.
What does living your life as art look like for you, right now? Not as a child, not ten years ago, but today? Every season will bring with it a new canvas. Open your heart and your life and ask God to show you His purpose for your life. In the final chapter of A Million Little Ways, Emily reminds us that " You are an image bearer and that is not about you becoming famous or important or promoted but about you becoming more fully yourself for the glory of God. And when you are fully yourself, everyone benefits."
I challenge myself and I challenge you to really think about these words and to seek Him through it all. Let's create art with our lives.
"God is the Artist and he made us. We are his poem and we will make art."
The quotes and excerpts I shared in this post all come from A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. If these thoughts resonate with you, I encourage you to buy her book and read it. And then re-read it.
"Uncover the art you were made to live."