CONFESSION #21: I often fail at putting God before my art and before a lot of things, but I'm learning.
As you can probably tell from my past two posts, I had a pretty hectic weekend. I had two long production days on set for my group senior thesis film. I'm the sound designer/editor of this film, which mainly means that I record the sound on set and will be responsible for editing the finished product. My load is pretty easy during the production side of making this film, but I still have to be on set.
Don't get me wrong, being on set is a lot of fun, but it's also exhausting work when you have long production days (4 pm until 1-3 am).
And now I'm feeling the effects of it: tiredness, exhaustion, and feeling out of whack.
But the main thing that I'm feeling is a weariness in my soul due to the fact that I didn't spend time with God like I wanted to in between production call times.
I'm learning a valuable lesson, or rather I'm being reminded of a lesson I thought I learned. God has to come before my art and before everything. He is the rest of my soul in this weary world.
As I've shared in previous posts, I'm really bad at resting. Taking the time to rest is needed and it's humbling. I'm a fallible and weak human being. I need to sleep. I need to take time to rest, and I need to put Jesus before my art.
What does that look like?
It looks like spending time reading God's Word before I begin a project. It looks like making time in a busy schedule to just relax and pray or listen to worship music. It means making sure that I'm making art out of a heart consumed by Christ.
My relationship with God is first and foremost.
So today, I put God before my art. I spent some time reading through a devotional for 2 Peter from a website called She Reads Truth. You can check out the devotional I read today here. I highly recommend She Reads Truth!
Today, I am reminded of Matthew 6:33
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
God's kingdom before my art.
Here are a few photos from working on set for the production of We Are Not Alone as a treat for reading this post and for those of you that are following this 31 day series (Confessions of a Creative Christian).
CONFESSION #20: I often throw around the adjective "creativity" or "creative" like they're candy.
The topic of my senior english class is literacy and whether college is preparing students to be literate members of society. This class has presented some interesting conversations, and today we focused on creativity, which was right up my alley.
Something that we talked about is that there is a difference between creativity and discovery, which makes a lot of sense.
The adjective "creative" is defined by Merriam-Webster as:
having or showing an ability to make new things or think of new ideas
Creative people create. They make new things.
People that discover merely find things.
Art is a creative field. Science is a field of discovery.
For some reason this idea is pretty mind blowing to me.
How cool is it that God gave humans the gift of being creative, of making new things? Of course, whatever we make isn't completely new and original since we use pre-existing materials, but to be creative is to be able to make new things.
Simultaneously, this changes the way that we use the word "creative." We can't use the word creative to describe finding a cure for a disease or even finding a nifty way to solve a math problem. We can use the word "innovative", but creative isn't an effective word for those actions.
Creativity is certainly a God given gift, and it's a gift that humans are given because we're made in the image of the creator.
Side thought, God never discovers anything. He created everything, so what is there for Him to discover? Just a floating thought.
CONFESSION #19: As bad as I am at resting, that's also how bad I am at remembering the true rest for my soul.
True rest. If I say this phrase to someone, they might think of a beach vacation, sleeping in on a weekend, or having a day off of work. But the Bible has a very different definition of true rest. This rest doesn't come from one's environment or one's circumstances. True rest comes from a person, Jesus Christ.
Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Jesus offers true rest through faith in him. His burden is easy and light. He provides true rest for the soul. Just like God in Psalm 23.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
Psalm 23: 1-3
God offers rest to His sheep, and it's a rest that far outweighs a human version of rest.
I'm meditating on this after a weekend filled with film shoots that kept me from my comfy bed until 3 in the morning. After a weekend filled with creative work, it's easy for me to think that what I really need is to spend lots of time sleeping. And I do need physical rest, but what I really need is rest for my soul.
As I struggle through the next few days getting back into a sleep routine, I'm going to be meditating on these verses and reminding myself that only Jesus offers a true rest, which is rest for my soul.
CONFESSION #18: I often use my art as an excuse for my busyness.
I recently read a book that has rocked the way I think about busyness and rest. You might have heard of it. It's called Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung, and it hits right at the heart of the busy person.
I am a busy person. Ask any of my friends or family. If you ask me on any given day how I'm doing, my answer will probably be, "Busy". I live a busy life. Somehow it just happens.
But I often use my busyness as an excuse. I use it as an excuse for not spending time with God. I use it as an excuse for not making enough time for people that are priorities in my life. I use it as an excuse for not getting enough rest. How are you tempted to use busyness as an excuse?
So for today's Saturday Book Review Day, I decided to talk about Crazy Busy. It's tagline is a "mercifully short book for a really big problem," and it hits the mark. It's a pretty short book, but it hits the idol of busyness straight on the head.
This book convicted and encouraged me in my own struggles with busyness. If you struggle with busyness, I encourage you to check it out!
CONFESSION 17: I often forget that the One that gave me the gift of creativity is my biggest fan and my best audience.
For the past few days, I've been asking myself this question: who is my art for? And on the first day of thinking through this question, I came to the realization that my art is created for three people: myself, others, and for God. I then looked at what it's like creating art for myself and creating art for others. While thinking about both of these, I started to think about which brings me true and lasting joy.
Creating things for myself (art for the sake of art) and creating things for others do bring joy, but the joy I get from creating for myself and for others is momentary; it doesn't last. Which brings me to creating for God.
Every time I create with God in mind, I find so much more enjoyment in what I'm doing, whether it's making a movie or writing a story or just painting. When my main goal is just making something to glorify God or even just for God, it takes so much pressure off of me. I can just enjoy what I'm creating. This might sound kind of abstract, but I'm free from creating art that only satisfies me and I'm free from creating art that pleases other people. That leaves God, who is pleased my feeble imperfect work and efforts, because He was pleased with Christ.
So who is my art ultimately for? God.
Everything I do, everything I make should ultimately be for Him, even if I'm making it with personal enjoyment or with others in mind. Ultimately, God is my greatest audience.
Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
CONFESSION #16: I often create things with the end of goal of having people see them and enjoy them, but this can often lead into different dilemmas.
In this three day series, I'm focusing on who my art is for. Essentially, I'm thinking through why I create art, who my audience is, and how that audience affects my creativity. Yesterday, I looked at creating art for myself. I came to the conclusion, that it is nice to create art just for me every once and a while, but that it doesn't ultimately bring lasting joy. It brings momentary joy, but none of the lasting kind.
This brings me to creating for others. Does creating for others bring lasting joy? And my answer is that it doesn't. Like creating for myself, creating for others brings momentary joy, but sometimes things come up that can rob the joy out of creating.
For one, I'm a people pleaser, so when I create art with others in mind, essentially I'm thinking through how to make something that a wide variety and majority of people would enjoy. While this might be a good mindset to have for some artists, it also presents a conflict.
When creating something in the hopes that others will enjoy it, there's a slight chance that I will miss the mark. My art might confuse people. They might not "get it." They might think that they can do better (which is a mentality that I think a lot of artists and audiences have). My art might just be ugly to them. They might not agree with my themes or ideas. All of these thoughts and things can add up into the joy being taken away from one's art and creativity.
A favorite artist of mine, Lecrae has some wise words from his song Free From It All:
You live for their approval, You die from their rejection.
I do want to create art that people enjoy, art that inspires and encourages and speaks truth. But I don't want to create art for the sole intent of winning approval, respect, or admiration.
Creating just for myself and creating just for others is flawed. They don't bring lasting joy, and they can even bring more trouble than joy. Who is my art really for then? Who do I create my art for in order to have lasting joy?
We'll take a look at that tomorrow.
This post is part of a 31 day series called Confession of a Creative Christian.
CONFESSION #15: I often forget that I am free to create things just for the joy of creating.
This might sound like a lame confession, but it's true. I often forget that I can just create things for myself, for the joy of creating something. I forget this mainly when it comes to making films or writing. I'm often so busy creating for others, to show things to others, or for others to use, that I forget to make things just for the joy of creating them.
This is an interesting idea, considering that I'm halfway through this 31 day challenge, give or take a few hours.
In the past, I would have never done something like this unless I might receive gratification in some way for it. But I wanted to do this challenge for me and ultimately for the Lord. Sure, I want others to read it, but what's really fueling this challenge is exploring this topic for myself more so than for others.
Being creative and creating beautiful things bring joy and delight. They don't bring lasting joy and delight, but they do bring a certain joy.
That's why I like to create and I'm guessing it's a motivation for others as well.
Ultimately though, creating just for myself doesn't bring lasting joy. I can only enjoy a piece of art that I create for so long before I start seeing the flaws in it, or I get the itch to make something even better.
It's good sometimes to create things just for me to enjoy, but ultimately that enjoyment can be fleeting, which is why I'm so tempted to create things for others to enjoy.
This leads us into tomorrow's post, creating for others.
CONFESSION #14: Often, I have to ask myself, "Who is this piece of art for?" The answer to this question ultimately impacts my creativity.
This is a question that I don't think enough creative people ask themselves. Who is my art for? Essentially, why am I making this piece of art?
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post titled Why I Write, which is based off of an article written by George Orwell, who wrote 1984. Through writing this post and reading the article by Orwell, I had some introspective time to think about why I do what I do. Why do I write? What is my motivation for writing? Orwell's article indicates that there are four main reasons for writing. Looking back, I just realized that he missed one reason: glorifying God.
Anyway, the motivations Orwell suggests not only apply to writing, but they apply to art and creativity as well. However, this post isn't about "Why I Create," that might be a topic for tomorrow. But today is about who I create my art for, and honestly there are only really three answers: creating for myself, for others, and for God.
For the next few days I'm going to be focusing more on these three motivations for creating, and trying to form a better picture from the haze of what creating for these different "groups" looks like.
CONFESSION #13: When it comes to my art and creative work, I don't like to fail.
The other day, the Lord put an idea for a short video into my head. It involved drawn animation, something I haven't dabbled in for a while, but the idea excited me. So I started thinking more about this idea, fleshing it out, thinking through how I could make it effective.
As I started thinking about it more, my stomach sank. I enjoy drawing, but I haven't actually practiced drawing in a long time. An idea that was exciting and new was quickly squashed by the lies of inability and inadequacy that I started to believe. The fear of failure held my idea captive.
This happens to a lot of us. We feel inspired and encouraged and all of a sudden our hope and inspiration are squashed by the fear of failure. This happens with art, creativity, school work, sports, in relationships, you name it. We fear failing, and it keeps us from taking risks, from trying.
As the fear of failure tried to derail my idea, the Lord reminded me of a truth. I am set free from the fear of failure, in all areas of life, thanks to the work of Jesus on the cross.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
In Psalm 73, King David talks about his failures, how he is prone to fall and fail. But, he also talks about how God is faithful and how God is with him David despite how he fails and messes up.
The same goes for me and for those that put their faith in God. We may mess up and fail in this life and spiritually, but God is always with us, and God never fails. I might fail artistically, but that's okay. God doesn't fail.
Ultimately, I am free to fail, because Jesus didn't fail. He went willingly to the cross, died a death he didn't deserve, and rose from the grave three days later, overcoming death.
My success doesn't come from my art or anything in this world. My success comes from the person of Jesus Christ, and that frees me from the fear of failure.
Despite my nagging fears, I am working on that animation video. And hopefully it works out, but if it doesn't, that's okay.
(P.S. I definitely plan on sharing the animation video when I finish it, regardless of how it turns out, but below is a sneak peak. It's a beginning concept sketch, and the pinky finger looks weird, but that's okay.)
CONFESSION #12: I'm still really bad at resting.
Something I've learned about myself over the past few years is that I'm really bad at resting. I'm just bad at it. I have a hard time just sitting down and doing nothing. I never find myself bored. I always find myself busy. And I also never make time for rest.
Well, things are changing. And now, I'm starting to make more time for rest, which is why during this series Sundays are restful days for me. On Sundays, like I said last Sunday, I won't really write about creativity, but rather meditate on rest. Last Sunday, the passage we looked at was Genesis 2 and the rest that God took after making creation.
Today's passage for meditation is Mark 6, specifically verse 31.
And he (Jesus) said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.”
For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.
Jesus, who is the Son of God, tells the disciples to leave the crowds and to go and rest. In Mark, we see that Jesus and the disciples are ministering to the people and meeting their needs. More and more people keep coming to them for help. As they help people, more come. Their work is far from finished, but Jesus tells them to rest. Why? Because they need it.
We were not made to continually work. We were made to work hard and to take rests.
Right now, I feel like the disciples. There's a lot going on in my life, and I want to keep pushing forward, but like the disciples, the opportune time to take a rest is in the middle of all of the activity. Because when else am I going to rest?
I'm meditating on Mark 6:31 today, and I'm taking time to rest for the glory of the Lord, so that it fuels me to continue running the race. Will you join me?
Welcome! I'm Madi, a laughter-loving, movie-going, spontaneous-dancing, follower of Christ. Join me as I seek glimpses of God's grace in the ordinary and everyday.
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