Artist.

art handsI am an artist.

That has taken me years to say, let alone believe, but say and believe it I do.

I’ve been reading a book by Seth Godin recently called Linchpin. He speaks to the creative soul in each of us and brings up so accurately the fact that as children we are constantly dreaming, imagining, believing that we can defy the forces that seem to constrict us in this world. The forces that keep us from doing things such as flying by jumping off of a couch. How dare the world stunt an imagination that believes in such things! But stunt it does. Over and over and over again as we age.

The fact that my heart leaps and I feel a little bit like crying when I think of that sense of freedom we have as a child shows me that the desire to leap and fly and defy worldly constrictions still is at the very center; the very core of who I was created to be.

We were creatively created by a creative Creator.colorful trees

He created beauty simply because He loves beauty. This world would have still functioned without the vibrant colors of a sunset or the way that dew settles on grass in the early morning hours. He could have made it that way, and yet He chose to create an art piece more incredible than we could ever know.

And He has created us to continue to create. To bring our own artistry to our lives. For many years I have seen that as a childish desire, one that is not responsible or maybe one that is prideful. After all, who am I to declare myself an artist? What if no one ever reads what I write? What if the art I pour out into words is bad or wrong or too simple or too theologically incorrect or…or…or…
I’ve been trying to re-phrase the questions in my heart lately. What if instead of seeing every constriction that the world and my conformed-to-the-world thoughts remind me of, what if I chose to allow that artist inside of me to jump off the couch and dare to fly again?

kids jumpingJesus calls us to be like children, and I have heard many analogies about this topic, most of them wonderful ones. Children are trusting, children come to Jesus just as they are, children have the faith that can move mountains.

But children are also artists. They create in every way possible. They create with their minds and their hearts and they are exactly who God created them to be without trying to prove anything to the world yet. Ideally this energy and this thirst for life and the impossible would reside in our hearts always, but we have to search for it more intentionally the older we get.

I have been searching, I have been longing deeply for that freedom again. For the freedom from the labels that others have put on me which I wrote about earlier this month. I have been searching for the beautiful dialogue between my heart and God’s.  I have been searching for healing and for true love to replace the tainted, abusive and harsh ways of pacifying pain through false love that the world offers.

And I think I’m finding it you guys. And it feels good.

 

And it feels selfish.

 

I have been looking at the world through new lenses lately and have found myself overwhelmed regularly by the pain that others go through; by the enormous amounts of injustice in this world. I feel helpless most of the time to use my life in any way that would help alleviate this suffering and injustice. And I feel selfish when I focus on my own heart and my own life when it seems as if my struggles are so miniscule in comparison with the pain of this world.

But then I remember that there is an enemy out there who is the greatest identity thief color throwthat ever was and ever will be. And his greatest desire is for you and for me to be less than who we were created to be. His greatest desire is to steal, kill and destroy us (John 10:10). He hates who we are, and he fears who we are becoming. To focus on our identity; on fully allowing the creative artist in each one of us to flourish by being renewed day by day by the miraculous love of Jesus, is the greatest thing we could do to bring the healing power of Christ to this broken and hurting world every single day.

To create through words, relationships, numbers, jobs, churches… is to continue bringing the flourishing and miraculous work of Jesus to this world every single day. We are His artists, we are His art. We are His beautiful workmanship and this world needs beauty. The enemy would have us neglect ourselves at all costs in order to pour out to others, but the enemy is a deceiver, a master manipulator, and by selling us this lie that it is selfish to focus on our own hearts when there is a hurting world is one of his greatest attempts to stunt our lives so that we will painfully dull ourselves day by day in the process leaving us tired, burnt out and completely unable to pour out beauty that we so long to pour out.

color handsI lived this way for so long. And I’m done living this way now. I am worth just as much effort and love and healing as every person in this world is. And I know that the only way my life will be able to pour out the colors of joy and love and peace that Christ created me to pour out is when I am living in those same colors daily.

I am an artist. You are an artist. You and I are worth the freedom that comes when we embrace the fact that we were created to create in our own beautiful way.

 

The world needs our color.

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Co-Pilot.

One of the most vivid memories I have as a child is when I would get to sit in the front seat of the car with my dad while we went on a road trip. I don’t remember the first time he called me this or if it was actually only once. If it was only once, it was more than enough because this is one memory my brain has involuntarily hung onto my entire life.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetCo-pilot.

There was something in the way he said it. I felt special, equal, useful and more than anything, I felt like we were in something together that not everyone was invited into. It was our thing. It was our name; a code of sorts that you could say while looking at the other one with a wink and a smile and for that moment it was just the two of you in on some secret mission against the rest of the world.

He was choosing me to be this special Co-Pilot, whatever that was, and it was awesome.

Armed with a pillow to sit on (this was back before car-seat rules existed apparently) and a Garth Brooks or Amy Grant cassette tape to put in the dashboard, my Co-Pilot checklist was checked and I was ready.

Dad in the driver’s seat, me in the front passenger seat, I felt like I was the most special and equal partner to one of my favorite people on the planet. I felt like I could do anything. We’d drive down the long stretches of highway on the way to see family in southern Oregon and as dad drove I was perfectly content sitting and riding along as Co-Pilot. After all, that’s what Co-Pilot’s did. They sang along to I’ve Got Friends in Low Places and dad would try to avoid the question of what whiskey was (I think he actually convinced me the word was whiskers for many years) and there was not a care in the world.

roadtrip 1As I think back on that memory with a smile, and I often do, I’m struck with how much that simple title meant to me without any understanding of what it was. I remember later in my childhood learning what it actually meant and I was baffled that it wasn’t something that was only known to my dad and I. I remember feeling as if a little bit of the magic had been lost when learning that this was a term used for thousands of people and not just for me.

But upon further investigation into my heart surrounding this topic I am coming to learn that it wasn’t actually about the name at all. It was about the one who gave it to me. My dad could have called me a sewer rat (affectionately of course) and I wouldn’t have cared because it was coming from him.

We see this play out in the lives of many children, both on the good and the bad end of the spectrum, and throughout the course of our lives we still hold great loyalty to the ones who said these things to us whether they impacted our lives negatively or positively.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to learn who to listen to. I’ve started to be able to untangle the titles put on me and, even if they were put onto me by people I loved and respected, I’ve started to learn how to cast off the ones that God never intended for me to have.

dad embraceI think we all need to come to a place like this at some point if we’re going to truly step into all that God has created for us.

I don’t need to hold onto the titles of being too much or dramatic or emotional or immature or the myriad of other things that come up in my mind right now as I think of some of the more hurtful titles that have been given to me involuntarily. No. They may have been given to me involuntarily, but now it is my turn to give those back; to ask God to help me strip myself of those that He never intended me to bare, and to have Him replace those with the ones that He has deemed worthy of His daughter.

Now it is up to me. It’s my turn to choose now who I listen to. Will I listen to God or the enemy? Will I live as the woman who only filters my identity through Christ? Or will I continue listening to this world? At some point we’ve got to choose. And once we choose? Well then it’s time to fully commit.

What about you? What titles have been given to you that it is now time to strip off. Which ones remain after seeing yourself through God’s eyes? Which ones truly embrace who you are and free you to go after this life without anything holding you down? Have you asked God recently who He says you are? It doesn’t have to be a common answer. I believe He’ll give you a memory or a word that means something to just you and Him and that is the title to fully embrace right now.

It’s time.roadtrip 3
It’s time to take your pillow and your favorite cassette tape and sit back and be that Co-Pilot like there would never be another Co-Pilot again. It’s time to sing at the top of your lungs unapologetically and trust the one who gave you that name; trust that this was the name you were created for and that together, in your full God-given identity, you can truly do anything.