Hello all! I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving is next week. How is that??? I know I’ve been quiet for most of the fall, but right at the time of my last post God began calling me to set-apart time in my studio. With that, I made a commitment to myself to work on my art every day in October…which I did! But I intentionally remained quiet about it because I knew that I needed freedom to fail this time – something that I didn’t feel I had in front of the public eye last year. For those of you who walked beside me throughout last year’s creative challenge know that in the end I felt disappointed that my work did not reflect the loose brushwork that I had hoped to achieve. As a result, when the year/challenge ended, I felt like I had failed in many ways; but as Beth Moore said in Beloved Disciple, “God does not consider my circumstance over until there is victory.” Hallelujah for that!
Though my yearlong challenge ended, my journey to freedom from perfectionism hasn’t. So every evening last month I closed myself in my studio and painted. Many days I failed, but I failed well. I honestly found it liberating to fall short and know that it was “okay”. Coming to that place alone was a victory for me! I learned more in those 31 days than I learned all last year BECAUSE I failed and learned from each mistake.
From the very first day in the studio, my month-long commitment began to look different than I envisioned. I was constantly having to surrender my plans, timelines and expectations. I daily had to transform my thinking because I knew that October’s studio time was to be focused on growth, not performance. I am reminded of when the disciples (before they were disciples) fished all night and caught nothing; yet when in obedience they let down their nets ‘when’ and ‘how’ Jesus commanded (even though it was contrary to their reasoning), their nets were so full of fish that they were breaking (Luke 5:4-6). The disciples might have considered their long night of catching no fish a big failure, but their story was not over. And if they HAD caught fish the night before, they would not have experienced Jesus’s power and authority the way they had. For me, that is huge.
We live in a culture where we tend to showcase our highlight reels for the world to see, but I want more than highlights; more than just masterpieces. I want depth, I want muscle and I want to know God better through my journey…and those come from grit, sweat, tears, risks, failures and surrender. I have lived with a performance mentality for so long that I have not allowed myself that ability to step back and grow my gift behind closed doors…until last month.
The painting above was the first piece I did in October. It is entitled, “Whose I Am: A Self-Portrait” and was inspired by Isaiah 44:5… “Some will say, ‘I belong to the Lord’; others will call themselves by the name of Jacob; still others will write on their hand, ‘The Lord’s,’ and will take the name Israel.” The conviction is so deep within me…“I am the Lords”. That is who I am. And if you follow Jesus, that is who you are too. We are not our failures, weaknesses or sins. Jesus died to guarantee that. We will all fail along the way, but never forget, “winners fail until they succeed”. Your story is so far from over…and so is mine.
***Ironically, I just opened an account on Instagram…home of highlight reels. 🙂 Let’s remember together that everyone’s story is so much deeper, harder and more painful than what meets the eye. Whatever you’re battling tonight, please know that you are not alone. And if you’re on Instagram, I’d love to see you over there! @hispaintbrush_michele