I know you have experienced them—the discouragers. There have been many discouragers and critics in my life. So much so that any effort on my part to create…anything…these days is quickly squelched by the negative taunts of the past, present, and even imagined criticism that could occur in my future. And why is it so easy to believe “them” than to believe in the jewel of creativity that God placed our lives? Imagine something so precious that it only comes to life from some outside source, from some unexplainable spiritual nudge and yet I want to, in a manner, throw a blanket over it and run, preferring laundry or yard work or dirty dishes.
Not all artists feel this way and, consequently, have blessed humanity with their gifts. The delicate music of Frederick Chopin, for example, or the stormy rumblings of Sergei Rachmaninoff can transport listeners to a different place and time. The carefully constructed words of Ralph Waldo Emerson or Nathaniel Hawthorne or of more modern writers, like Ernest Hemingway or, a personal favorite, Jose Saramago, can cause a reader to think and feel deeply as if on another plane. Even today artists still bless us. The pool of creativity is deep. In fact, it is the original infinity edge pool, so why is it so frightening to take a dip?
One reason, for me, is the fear of disparagement. It’s difficult to find fault with clean laundry or a well-kempt yard or clean dishes on which to eat. But play a piece of music or write a story or paint a painting and the door has opened wide for the damaging torpedoes of reproof. I can tell myself all day long that the unfavorable or worse lack of comments toward a creation were the result of a person having a bad day or jealousy or anything and yet I still believe there is a grain of truth in their destructive opinions. And sure, not all opinions are negative, but place them side by side and I’ll put my money on the critics or the deafening silence as the real truth.
“By now it should be apparent that identifying where our discouragement originated is not nearly as important as freeing ourselves from the effects of that discouragement. We can only do this by practicing the forgiveness that sets us free.” (The Creative Call by Janice Elsheimer). Ahhh, to be free. There’s the rub and the most difficult journey of my life. God placed me on this journey over a year ago and there is still a long, hard road ahead. A wise woman once said to me, “new shoes pinch feet.” The “new shoes” for me would be forgiveness and letting go to name only two. Picking up a paintbrush or working on a novel is an attempt to hobble closer towards my goal of forgiving the critics, myself included, and letting go of their remarks once and for all. Releasing creativity’s reward is great. It is healing spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and with God’s help and influence brings us within sight of real freedom and beauty.