Creatives are often stuck between a rock and a hard place. They are pulled between the longing to do something meaningful and enjoy the creative process, and the fear of being called selfish and irresponsible.
I feel like creative people, me included, often sacrifice our creative nature, tendencies, and passions in the name of other people and causes. We somehow believe that giving into something we find easy and pleasurable is selfish or sinful.
You don’t want to be viewed as selfish or indulgent by giving into your desire to create. So you trade in your dream for a martyr’s badge and a martyr’s mentality.
Others see you as a saint because you give so much and are so accommodating. When you’re actually in agony and slowly dying inside. Your inner artist dies a martyr’s death and you become an empty shell of who you were supposed to be.
It’s not for nothing. Often there are great causes for your sacrifices. Family, church, charity, school, deadlines. You’re needed.
John wants to travel to a creative writing seminar, but the flight and admission are costly and the couch the family wants is on sale. So John gets the couch and stays home.
Laura has always wanted to open a flower shop but she’s a key player in the children’s ministry at church. She just doesn’t have time for both.
Patti loves decorating cakes and dreams of doing it full time but she’s a single parent and needs to bring home a consistent income to provide stability to her 4 children. She never decorates more than her own children’s birthday cakes.
This thought process tricks you into thinking that suppression and subjection are the ultimate forms of maturity and spirituality. That you must sacrifice yourself on the alter of selflessness in order to be worthy of any praise or admiration. And it works. People think you’re amazing. Always available. Incredibly giving. So thoughtful.
Service is service.
The problem we have is we somehow build up this hierarchy of service in our minds. That serving or teaching is more noble than arranging flowers or baking cakes. And generating reports is more important than writing fiction.
We are all called to serve but not in the same ways. It’s not more spiritual to be a monk than a merchant. It’s not more benevolent to sell life insurance than hand-made baby clothes. There is a need for all of it.
Instead of being stuck in the mindset of sacrifice, experiment with being obedient to the true calling in your life. When something ignites a passion within you, that’s a clear sign of the direction you need to walk in.
Some people are passionate about finding a cure for cancer. Some people are passionate about gardening. If we could kick the idea that one thing is better than another and just obey the call we have in our own lives, we’d have the right people in the right jobs and life would be more efficient and people would be happier, content and fulfilled.
Sacrifice is not better than obedience. You can only sacrifice so much of yourself until you’re all burnt up with nothing left to offer and no hope for a brighter future.
But when you obey your calling and follow your passions, you get to take all of you for the ride. Your heart, mind, body, and soul can engage and enjoy this wonderful, creative journey of life. Not only that, but you have more to offer and share with others in a meaningful way.
Save your inner artist from a martyr’s death. Obey rather than sacrifice.
What are you sacrificing for the fear of being labeled selfish? What direction are your passions telling you to take? I’d love for you to share your thoughts here.
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