Letting Go: How I Learned to Step Into My Dreams

Perfection has a price, but I cannot afford to live that life. It always ends the same; a fight I never win. Oh control. It’s time, time to let you go.” -JJ Heller

A few years back, on my birthday, I woke up after having an incredible dream. The dream was prophetic for my personal future. It hit straight to the core of some inner struggles I had been having. It gave me a greater hope for the future that I am now living.

For several years I had felt like I had fallen into a dark well or a completely lifeless creative downward spiral. Sure, I had been making art, commissions, and though I was pleased with the outcome of each, I have to say they were indeed lifeless … to me.

I was so detached from these paintings that I didn’t even really bother archiving them for my own portfolio. That says something. It says a lot.  My writing was like swimming through mud.

I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

Spiritually, I felt like I had been traversing a craggy wasteland, always walking forward in the direction of the sun (Son), waiting for this storm of torrential rains and floods to come, but I was always waiting, always walking, and there was never a drop of rain in sight nor a cloud in the sky.

I began to grow used to the desert, both the spiritual and the creative. Oddly enough, my inner spirit man never really felt like it was in a drought, just thirsty, content, but never satisfied. No matter how much I fought to be satisfied.

As years passed in my reality, circumstances not changing, my hope for a better future, for the flood rains in my creative life and spiritual life to come, became like an old plane ticket in my hand. It had no expiration date, but neither did it have a date of departure, and so I ceased looking for one.

I was a desert-wanderer. This was my reality. But on my 31st birthday, waking up from that hope-reviving dream, remembering other dreams that partnered with it, I began to smell the scent of rain in the air again. A change was coming and it was right on the horizon. Christ Jesus even led me to a verse in the Scriptures to solidify this newly revived hope and expectation.

Isaiah 43:19 “See, I am doing what is new, let it now spring forth. Do you not know it? I am even making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Now, for several years I had been having a connected series of dreams about living in a trash bag tent in the desert amongst many others who were fearful of a coming flood.  So when I read this verse, and the images of those old dreams of my desert lands being flooded out with enough water to fill the oceans,  I knew it was a Word of life for me from Him.

This, however, is where faith gets tricky. People of faith LOVE a word about CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH, but they never take into consideration what CHANGE and BREAKTHROUGH really mean.

Simple analogy, think of how a child who has come to the end of his or her stay within the womb feels when they are are BREAKING THROUGH to their new place. It is not a comfortable transition.  The very fluid they had been thriving on for nine months is squeezed out of them as they pass through from one existence to the other.

Isaiah 43:19 is awesome, but there is a verse that comes before it. This verse was the training breakthrough verse from me.

Isaiah 43:18 Do not remember the former, nor consider that of old.”

STEP 1: Confront your past disappointments.

In order for me to move forward out of my desert, I had to forget the things that were behind. I had a lot of disappointments and false starts,  a lot of heartaches, a lot of wounds, and all of those things not only blocked my creativity but stifled me spiritually and emotionally.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows.

I was in agreement with ‘forgetting’ all of those things. I had buried them for a reason, but I had not healed from them. I was still carrying them with me, and the load was rotting lot gangrene and affecting every creative part of me.

I began to think I was a failure because I could not make myself forget these things that Christ Jesus had let out of the bag. I cried. I didn’t understand until He gently and lovingly told me a simple truth.

In order to forget what is behind, you have to confront it, heal from it, so that it never has power over you again.

You know what it is like when a clogged pipe has been treated and all that grime comes out before the clear water flows? That is what had been taking place with me ever since. I began to allow my pains to be redeemed, and I am talking about those old pains, the-school-bully-that-scared-you-when-you-were-nine kind of pains.

STEP 2: Embrace your unique path and timing.

Then there were the pains of not feeling good enough and trying to achieve those superficial plateaus that society has put in place, but failing every time. And why was I failing? Because these things are not part of His design or rather they were not part of His design for my life back then. Striving for those things (marriage, children, nest, 9 to 5 job … not really on the 9 to 5) at the WRONG time was creative suicide.

Because of my wounds, the ones that were sneaking up on me even though I had pressed them down, I had gone on a rampage to control everything in my life that I could. My art was controlled. There could be no mistakes in it, which meant I hardly ever created anything. My writing had to be flawless. And because it wasn’t, because I couldn’t really control it, I began to grow duller.

STEP 3: Divorce yourself from perfectionism.

Art doesn’t thrive in a box. Creativity is organic and grows how it grows. I was trying to control all of these things because I could not control the pain that I refused to confront. But now I know better. I was blessed with the chance to journey far away from home, away from the familiar noise and get a glimpse of the creative woman I once was and am in the process of becoming.

I leave you to take another listen to the song that makes my heart dance. It’s one of my anthems. It comes from the “When I’m with You.” Album by JJ Heller. The song is called “Control.” I have let go of the control now. I have ceased to clip my own wings out of fear and the need to control something, anything, just to feel secure.

I gave Jesus permission to heal my hidden hurts and to draw out the creativity that had been backed up.

BONUS: LET GO OF THE NEED TO CONTROL!

I gave up control and I am getting to know me again and you don’t need control for that. It’s actually best to let it go.

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS:

  • What steps have you taken to walk into your creative dreams?
  • What were some things that were holding you back?
  • What advice would you share with others who have struggled to take hold of or regain their footing in conquering their dreams and goals?

Please share your wisdom and advice in the comments below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!

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The Art of Being Happy: The Expression of Faith in Creativity pt 1

A child can teach an adult three things: To be happy for no reason, to always be curious, and to fight tirelessly for something.” ~Paulo Coelho

THE HAPPY WISDOM OF CHILDREN…

Author, Paulo Coelho, hit the nail on the head with this simple yet powerful description of the wisdom of children. It puts me in the mind of what our Savior, King Jesus said to His disciples, in regard to children and faith, in Matthew 18:3, “…and [Jesus] said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” 

Here, the Lord is telling adults what it would take to walk in the fullness of His redemption, to not just be redeemed, but to take hold of the authority and power redemption brings, and that would require the faith of a child.

Children have the ability to place unmerited trust in their parents. They believe when dad says he is taking them to Disney World. They believe that when mom says there are no monsters under the bed, that there are no monsters under the bed. They leap from great heights, heights that would give most adults vertigo, trusting without a doubt that the arms of their loved one will catch them without fail.

This is the faith that the Lord asks of us and encourages us to embrace once again.

For many of us, deciding to allow our creative passion to no longer lay dormant or to cease to be a hobby, but to transform into our main source of income, requires a great deal of faith.

Most of the time the decision made is often the easiest hurdle to leap over. Maintaining the glow of a job-well-done, or a-good-choice-made is something else entirely.

You see, when we decided to become ‘serious’ about our creative passion, we are, by faith, opening doors to another level of reality. We are embracing the monotony of taxes if we are creating products or services. We are choosing to place ourselves on the stage for social criticism. We are choosing to accept boundaries in order to better guide and maintain successful ventures.

We are, in a word, choosing to ‘adult’ while fully embracing our creative passion.

The question that remains, while we are having to now juggle the new demands our creative growth requires, is are we choosing to be happy in the process?

CHOOSING TO BE HAPPY…FOR NO REASON

Applying childlike faith to our creative growth requires the courage to be happy in all seasons. What does this mean? It means that you are not allowing circumstances to rob you of what matters most. You are not allowing a seemingly unsolvable problem to take your joy from you.

It’s saying ‘this’ may be happening, but I choose to be happy because…or I choose to be happy anyway.

Maybe you start your blog and you don’t gain the following that you initially dreamed of even though you’ve applied the rules that you learned from blogging-gurus. You have the choice to either bemoan your low following or to be grateful for the audience that you have.

Or maybe you attract a few nagging comment-trolls. You can either wallow in the negativity of the ‘haters,’ or choose to celebrate the faithful who are blessed by what you are sincerely offering.

Maybe you didn’t anticipate how lacking in excitement filing quarterly taxes can be. You have the choice to groan about the process or be happy that you even have sales to file taxes on.

I could go on and on with many examples but the point is we need to choose to be happy…always.

Happiness effects the quality of our creativity, the quality of our presentation, the quality of our lives. Choosing happiness is to commit to being satisfied with where you are and what you have. It’s choosing to celebrate the ‘likes’ and kind words of readers over those of critics.

It’s choosing to see the good in your process and current place in your progress even as you strive to move forward to your desired destination.

I am sure that if you grew up anywhere near a church you’ve heard that that shortest verse in the bible is ‘Jesus wept.” Well, there is another verse that matches it in length (at least in English…I haven’t checked the Greek.)

REJOICE ALWAYS,” ~I THESSALONIANS 5:16

No matter where you are in your in your creative journey, take the advice of children and choose to be happy…for no reason…always. There is certainly so much more ahead of you if you keep pushing forward, but there is so much worth celebrating even in the now.

Choose happy.

*In what ways have you had to grapple with happiness or the lack thereof as you’ve journeyed in your creativity? Talk about it in the comments below.

~Dream. Imagine. Believe. Do. CONQUER!