Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

creative, create, obey, passion, sacrifice, dreams, goals, fulfillment, life

creative, create, obey, passion, sacrifice, dreams, goals, fulfillment, lifeCreatives 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.

If you’d like to get some more creative encouragement, join my list of email friends.  You’ll get an inspirational letter from me once a month.

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The Unfair Judge

judge, creative, artist, blocked, truth, standard, fail

judge, creative, artist, blocked, truth, standard, failThe Unfair Judge

You take a beating.
Often.
The last bruises still show.
You didn’t meet the standard.
You didn’t hit the mark.
It’s a moving target and the judge is unfair.
You should have.
You could have.
You didn’t.
Now it’s in the past.
Forever etched in your history.
Everyone knows.
You’re an embarrassment.
A failure, a liability.
Focus.
Try harder.
You deserve the correction.
It hurts. 
You break a little.
It’s for your own good.
You can do better.
You did your best.
Try again.
Raise the bar!
Set the standard higher!
No! Higher still!
It’s a moving target and the judge is unfair.
You’re losing ground. 
Is it worth trying again?
You’ll never make it.
You’ll never measure up.
You set the standard higher.
Your judgement is unfair.
You beat yourself up again.
The bruises still show.


It’s true.  You’re unfair to yourself.  Your expectations surpass anyone else’s when it comes to your performance. You’re often ashamed of your imperfections.

Creativity and art are direct reflections of who you are at your core.  Expressing yourself in art makes you extremely vulnerable.  It’s like looking at yourself in a two way mirror.  Other people see you as you see you.

So many creatives stay blocked for a lifetime because they judge themselves, deem themselves unworthy of any success and repress their true essence as to not allow anyone else the opportunity to judge. It’s safer in the shadows.

And yet, they do.  People judge.  It’s what we do best.

The problem is when you hide yourself and play pretend, people can and will judge you only on what they can see.  A fake.

You are misread and misunderstood and it causes you extreme bouts of frustration and heaviness.  Then you judge yourself even harder for not being real.  You know better, but it’s scary to be real.

Examine the areas in your life where you judge yourself the harshest.  Where does the truth of who you are end and the facade begin?  What are you trying to prove?

What if the things we shame ourselves for has less to do with righteousness and more to do with appearances? I wonder how many of the “rules” we have are things we do to keep up the facade of a higher standard.  When a higher living comes when you open yourself up instead of locking yourself up.

We get life backwards sometimes.  It’s not about keeping out the bad and the dark.  It’s about letting in the light and the good.  When you live in the light, you have more light to share.

Living life on the defensive sets you up for negative thought processes. It shows up in your countenance and your conversations. Instead of backing into a corner and defending your territory, move forward and gain some ground. Take that next right step.

That first step is to stop beating yourself up for being who you are, feeling what you do, and doing what you love.

Open up. Be real.

At least with a few close friends.

You have some true beauty and light in you.  You can make a positive impact.  That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The truth is that we’re all vulnerable.  We’re all imperfect.  We’re all talented and messy and creative.  And we’re all our own worst critic.

Stop beating yourself up.  The bruises show.

Do you feel like you have to prove yourself to be accepted?  How can you be real with someone this week?  Comment here. 

If you need some extra inspiration in your life, join my email list. It gets real in there.  I’d love to have you there.

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Sculpting Your Inner Artist

artist, creative, nourish, feed, potential

artist, creative, nourish, feed, potentialThere is an artist inside of you.

Even if you have a hard time believing it’s true.

Your artist is the real you.  It is your potential.  Pure and innocent.  It is the stored kinetic energy.  Creativity waiting for an opportunity to be turned loose.

Think of your artist as a young, timid but brilliant child that lives in your soul. It has to be handled gently and nurtured with great care. It must be coaxed out and given a safe place to belong.  It must be fought for and protected.

You need to be aware of what your creativity needs and what is harmful to its growth.

Some things that can repress your inner artist are:

  • Man-made drama
  • Mental clutter
  • Emotional confusion
  • Environmental shifts
  • Whims of opinionated people
  • Too much verbal adversity
  • Negative stimulation

All these things can send your artist into hiding.

What can you do to nourish and protect your artist?

  • Prune away people who create drama in your life.  Ain’t no one got time for that.
  • Carefully examine your social media feed.  Remove those who fuel your frustrations and jealousies.  No matter who they are.  You have no obligation to view the intricacies of their lives.
  • Let your time alone be sacred and unadulterated by fits of melodrama.
  • Take time to be quiet.
  • Let your mind flow freely.
  • Check in with yourself a few times each day.  How are you feeling?  What are you needing?
  • Ask your artist what she/he wants to do next.

Potential is nothing until its energy is released.  Freeing your inner artist isn’t like releasing a rubber band.  It’s not an energy that’s waiting to burst forth.  It’s more like excavating.  Or perhaps sculpting.  Removing all the parts of your life that don’t look like your artist.

Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  You have an artist in you.  You have to chisel away the excess until you set it free.

Your artist needs room to breathe and grow.  Life is often harsh and the conditions are rocky and smothering.   Cares of life will easily use up the resources that fuel your creativity.  Your artist needs you to make room for creativity by meticulously removing the things that hinder and restrict the freedom of creating.

When you have chiseled away to reveal your artist, your life will have clarity.  Your focus will become sculpted and defined.  Your art will reflect your true self.  Your potential will be released in a beautiful and satisfying way.

It won’t be long if you keep up the process of pruning your life until your artist’s thoughts will become your thoughts.  You will no longer feel the conflict between your creativity and your obligations. Belief and confidence in yourself will make you a strong and thriving creative.  When you and your artist become one and the same person, your art will become a shadow of the divine perfection.

You will finally believe in your artist.

What are somethings that you need to change to protect and nourish your inner artist?  What would your artist like to do next?  Comment here.

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Name Your Villain

art, shame, fear, negative, adversity, villain

art, shame, fear, negative, adversity, villainThe villain in a story is a cruelly malicious person who’s motives and actions are wicked.  He’s intent on bringing down the hero and victims to get what he wants.  Domination.

There is a villain in you.

As you try to make a place for yourself and your creative work, you hear a voice from inside, telling you all the reasons why you can’t.  Why you shouldn’t.  Why it’s a waste and no good.  It’ll never amount to much.  It’s fake.  Who are you kidding?

We call it fear.  But fear starts somewhere.  You were not born afraid.

We teach our toddlers not to touch a hot stove.  Don’t run in the road.  Don’t talk to strangers.  We have to teach our children fear.  There are real dangers out there that they don’t understand.

This voice of negativity is fear, but where did it come from?  Who taught you to fear your creativity?  

I suggest you start at your earliest memories and think about your influencers.  There was someone who told you it was no good.  Shamed you.  Or told you it wasn’t worth pursuing.

That person has a name.  Maybe they meant well.  Maybe they aren’t truly evil.  Maybe they wouldn’t even remember the incident.  That’s okay.  That’s the voice that keeps whispering in your ear when you’re working on your craft.

That voice of fear now has a name.  And it’s not you.

The fear that has kept you from following your creative passion has been trying to keep itself safe.  Because you learned that your art was not a safe place to live, fear whispers a warning every time you approach it.

What can you do about it?

Change your mind.  It takes time, but you can slowly introduce your fear to your creativity in measured and safe increments.  You have to re-train yourself to accept creativity as a natural and comfortable place to be.  Like the seashore or a cool forest.

Start a journal, sketch pad, paint by number.  Use your creativity is small and enjoyable ways regularly.  Tell your fear that you’re not jumping off a cliff or going to live on a deserted island.  You’re only taking a walk on the beach and smelling the flowers.

Completely safe.

It’s important that you keep your inner artist safe.  Don’t show your work to people you know will be critical.  Don’t take it on a roller coaster.  And don’t starve it.  Nurture it and encourage it.

Tell that voice of fear to hush.  Call it by name.  Realize that it’s not your voice.  It’s someone else’s.

You don’t have to listen to it anymore.

 

How old were you when you were taught to fear your creativity?  Comment here.

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