Releasing your art

Any artist knows the feeling of fear that comes along with the intense desire to create. The two almost intertwine themselves as the artist allows the way they see the world and the complexities of life to escape their heads and hearts and bravely explain itself through the vehicle of art. Compelled to bring the truth whether the words are written, spoken, sung, painted, drawn, danced, captured, shaped, sculpted…whichever medium is used to express truth..we fear in the process as we let go..and let go some more. The process of it all renders itself the release of something …ourselves, our fears…our ideas.. our hopes.. our faith – it is the release that gives us freedom and others freedom too.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
Thomas Merton

There is however a fear that once we release it a piece of us is being discovered, let go, found out, understood…and the fear of rejection…what if our message…our truth..is rejected, what if we are rejected…after all, our art is attached to the very heart of our person.  And yet when we come to the place where we are okay with releasing it for the sake of being authentic and honest and truthful about the way we see and understand life, God and ourselves we are able to take others with us…so we break through…

The compulsion and almost obsession to break through that fear for the sake of that truth is greater than the fear itself ……this is art.

I’ve sung and written my whole life but I haven’t always allowed it to escape the walls of my head and heart.  It has been a journey of letting go for me and I have been so blessed to have people walk into my life whether indirectly or directly who have taught me, given me permission, encouragement and urged me to create, to be truthful to my own personal expression of how I see God, life, myself and others.

One of my good friends and long time mentor Michael Neale has been one of those people who has taught me both directly and indirectly so much about what it looks like to be a creative in the body of Christ. He has been a teacher of  how to humbly and honestly give and release what the Lord has deposited in me creatively and how to be okay with the fear and wrestling that goes along with it.

Michael is an accomplished musician, songwriter and now author of best selling novels “The River” and “Into the Canyon”.  Through the years I have watched him humbly lead others to the throne of God through song, encouraging words and written words and have been blessed by his great example of what it looks like to fully embody the person God has created and called him to be in all areas of gifting so as to encourage, uplift and edify the church.

When I started out on my journey of allowing myself to be open to plunging into my first album and letting go of all of the things that needed to be let go of in order to allow God to work through and in spite of me , Michael gave me some life giving words and truths that I feel will inspire, move and give encouragement to any artist who is either contemplating exploring their gifts, in the middle of the process or nearing the end and ready to release what has been created;

In one of our conversations Michael reminded me of the story of the little boy with the loaves and fishes. I had been sharing my desire to create along with my fear of rejection, comparison and overall feeling of inadequacy …Michaels response “The boy gave what he had and it was his offering, it was humble and he was to give what he had.” He went on to say it’s not about what you don’t have it’s about what you do have to give…not to worry about what happens when you release it…our job is just to offer it..and let it go. In other words – the boy gave what he had, he didn’t have enough to feed the masses but God could still use it. He then said “Gina, this is your offering”…just a few words and yet he said so much.

It’s my offering.

It’s enough.

An offering isn’t measured or compared against, it’s what you have to give back to the Lord, to His people for His glory out of whats been given by Him.  Michael then shared with me this quote that you have no doubt heard before:

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

It  is a quote worth repeating..and reminding yourself of as you bravely do whatever it is that God calls you to do.  This is not to say that once you do finally get up the courage to move that those fears won’t come over you again..they will…

but not allowing them to strangle your mission is where the turn happens.

Even Michael in all of his accomplishments shared this recently in a blog post when releasing his new book “Into the Canyon”

“I’ll be honest. It is terrifying to pour your heart into something for over a year and put it out there for the masses to either love or trample on. But we have to be okay with doing the very best work we can, period. We can’t steward results, just the work that is in our hands to do. We plow. We plant. We don’t make it rain. I can say this for sure, the real joy is IN the work. To create is a great gift.”

Terrifying…he used that word and yeah I get that,  I bet you do too.  If you’ve ever let go of yourself in this way…if you’ve ever just let the words tell you what to say, what to sing, what to dance, what to capture…if you’ve ever done that then you know the fear that goes into letting go of it…  And yet…you must…it’s not yours…it’s not yours to keep, it’s not yours to reject, it’s not yours to compare, it’s not yours…it’s His…so we create and we offer it back to honor God…

To create is a great gift…

If you’ve been given the gift then you must be a good steward of it and not keep it to yourself.

It must be released.

It must be set free.

It must be exhaled.

It’s not yours.

So my friend and mentor Michael gave me pearls with his words and pearls with his example and I hope that you will be moved to move in your creative process too through the things I’ve shared here.

Give your offering, be brave and release your art…

 

For more information about Michael Neale and his recently released books go to

 

www.michaelneale.com

 

And if you would like more nuggets of wisdom I highly recommend taking a listen to his recent podcast about being a creative in the church, how to navigate through juggling many ideas and inspirations at once along with finishing your art…

 

#54: Michael Neale On Creativity, The Local Church, Entrepreneurship, & Finishing Your Art [Podcast]