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For some reason, I wasn’t ready to say it out loud just yet. In a sort of whiny voice that surprised me I replied,

“I mean, I don’t know, I guess so…” I silently sighed.

At lunch, I’d been telling a friend about my recent involvement with songwriting, recording and touring. I mentioned to her how surreal it had been and how much I was learning. She nodded and excitedly chatted with me about the group and the fun things we were experiencing. She glanced up as she took another forkful of salad.

“So, you’re like an artist now, huh?” she asked, tending to her plate.

Though it was actually more of a statement than a question, I couldn’t respond with an automatic “yes” or even a nod. I just sat there…before answering in that weird tone, listening to the other voice in my own head that kept saying I still wasn’t sure.

The ‘A’ Word

I’ve always known who they were. Captivating. Beautiful. Creatively brilliant trendsetters. Talented. But also, overly sensitive. Too “dreamy.” Maybe a little flaky. Kind of, well…weird. Them. The artists.

You probably know them too. Who knows what intergalactic sci-fi themes and urban music videos of the early 2000s have in common? Left Eye did. Why is Johnny Depp so mysterious? That boy know he can act, though. I laughed until my sides hurt when Kanye proclaimed that Sway didn’t have the answers…but what if Mr. West really is aware of something profound that the rest of us just aren’t privy to? Even now, the creativity of some of my closest artist friends doesn’t always make sense to me.

It’s a funny thing how the people I am most enamored with are the same ones to which I have subjected the most scrutiny, sometimes even judgment. For the longest time, the ‘A’ word represented more ambiguity than opportunity in my mind.

Nobody Got Time…

Growing up, I was always involved in some form of fine art – singing, piano lessons, drama, you name it – Mama probably had me and my sisters in it. Until I was at least ten years old, my unequivocal answer to the age old, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was, “A singer.”

Somewhere down the line, the idea of my career path became more fluid. Between my undergraduate pursuit of law school and a subsequent lack of involvement in the arts during those four years, I just resigned myself to the occasional church solo or car concert. I purposed to get a “real” job. Besides, practicing family law seemed to be a much nobler cause than trying to “blow up” as an A-word. I needed something safe, secure. Taking risks? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

For me, the discomfort communicated by my non-answer to my friend’s question that day was also a form of contempt created by my single-minded notions of what’s normal, acceptable and necessary. In essence, I was screaming, “I’M NOT WEIRD!” in protest, but whispering, “I kinda wanna be…”

Fearfully, Wonderfully, Purposefully

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

Almost three years since that lunch, I’m still wrestling to confidently call myself an artist. It’s so much easier to say, “Yeah, I sing,” or “Yes, I like to write sometimes. I started a little blog…or whatever.” I’m realizing more and more that it’s not only a struggle with what job title I think will be acceptable to other people, it’s a struggle with the Lord.

If God did indeed create me with some kind of artistic ability and a voice that he wants others to hear, why don’t I praise Him for that more often? Why doesn’t my soul agree like the psalmist, that his work in me is wonderful? Why would I prefer to downplay what he’s doing instead of bringing him glory with it?

Here’s what I know: I enjoy working (and staying) behind the scenes. I’m an introvert. I like having a plan. I am confident that these are some of the wonderful ways God has designed me. Unfortunately, I have used these aspects of my character to justify why I’m so reluctantly following the Lord into this world of artistry. I’ve asked him time and time again, “Aren’t artists people who like being the center of attention? Aren’t they the free spirits who are comfortable on the spot and enjoy networking and have song lyrics oozing out of their ears and, and…?”

God always graciously responds each time I’ve questioned his will in fear. He reminds me in many gently ways why he has put me here. He’s showed me that as long as I look for confidence in what I think I am or where I believe my strengths lie, I cannot move forward in his plan for me. I won’t learn to trust him more, but I’ll pridefully lead myself, and who knows where that will end.

Coming Out

My closet is filled with half-written songs, undeveloped melodies, essay ideas penned in shorthand gibberish, hopes, dreams and plans for an uncharted future. It’s where I don’t feel guilty spending time on YouTube or reading blogs or singing ideas in Garageband or studying an amazing vocal arrangement. Where I’ve become less judgmental, simply watching in respectful admiration of the artists around me.

My closet is the place where my passion for creative expression is growing. Where I’m growing. Where I’m being humbled, being taught who I am, weird quirks and all. Where the Lord hears my fears, sees my heart and knows what I will become. Where I’m starting to explore the truth: the Creator has created me to…create.

My closet is safe. But maybe I’m finally ready to forsake safety for his glory.

 

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