12 In Faith

Choosing To See: Becoming Living Art – Week 6

choosing to see480There will always be people who will not agree with our approach in life, who will make argument with the words we share, or who vocally express their dislike of a piece of art we create. But criticism, when it is meant to help, can be used to grow and stretch us into who God purposed us to be. Bad criticism, although it makes me want to turn and run for the hills, grows and stretches us even more.  God’s desire is that we would open our eyes and see criticism in a new light.

I’ve found in my own life that I have to handle all types of criticism in the same way: remember who I am, remember who God is, and remember not to take my work too seriously.” – A Million Little Ways

The one with the daunting stare, the one who points out our weaknesses and shows us where we could do better, that critic can paralyze us with fear so overwhelming that we do not even consider moving toward our goal.  The sting of the critic reminds me that I am living and that I am human.

There, in the clenched hand of the critic is a gift he may not realize he’s giving you, one you don’t recognize at first.  But there it is, the gift of your own smallness, your own Yes, I am a mess.  Yes, I want your approval and agreement.  Yes, I want to be loved and admired.  Yes, I want to be right.  The critic’s words point out my insecurities — but in seeing those, he shows me myself. – A Million Little Ways

When I am forced to look at myself, it causes me to lay myself bare before a living and loving God. It’s then that I realize that my deep desire for approval is not really about the critic at all, but it’s all about me.  In reality, it’s not my critics that cause the mess, but they only point it out, forcing me to take a long, hard look at it.

And what about the one who speaks words, writes books, paints pictures and does life right alongside of you?  I am the first to admit that I am both inspired and disheartened when I read the words of others.  Their words, so profound, cause an ache in my heart — She says it so beautifully.  I could never write like her.  The words just flow from her heart.  Why can’t I express my heart so beautifully?  Is not my art beautiful too?  This big world of writing and sharing words often leaves me feeling empty, not good enough and less than.  And before I know it, I’ve become paralyzed by unrealistic fear that leaves me unable to breath let alone move.  The ugly truth of my life is that I long to be accepted and valued by others apart from God.

I’ve experienced this just recently.  I’ve been on a writing break, with another book sitting in draft and unable to move forward.  I have allowed the success of others to put a fear of failure inside my own heart because I don’t feel good enough. But God, in is loving and gracious way, has slowly peeled off layers of hurt and pain concerning my own art, that reading the words of others was no longer encouraging me, but bringing me down.  Words that were meant to offer hope and life brought more death, as God called me once again to sink.  [Tweet “Only in His presence am I free from the fear of failure and able to rest in His love.”]  As the beloved of God, I needed to stop and just be loved.

There really is enough words to go around.  She may have already said it, but we can say it too because we will say it differently.  And most likely, if everyone is saying or writing about the same thing, then God is saying something.  So write it, join her, support her.  We exert less energy being one another’s cheerleaders than we would fretting over book contracts and making art to please someone else.

How will you respond to the voice of the critic today, both the internal and external critic?  How is God opening your eyes to see criticism differently?

Artist brushes with a half finished painted color canvas

This is the sixth post in a series entitled Becoming Living Art. Each Monday I will share what God has revealed to my own heart while reading through Emily Freeman’s A Million Little Ways: Uncover The Art You Were Made To Live.  I was not paid in any way for my thoughts or quotes.  I would highly recommend you read the book.  It’s really good!

 

12 Comments

  • Reply
    Holly Barrett
    April 14, 2014 at 3:40 am

    Oh, how I am right there with you with a manuscript file that taunts me from my desk top every time I sit down to my computer. And funny thing is, I’m not working on it for the same reasons you stated. Fear of rejection…fear of others’ successes…fear that I don’t have the words to finish it. Gah!!! Make it stop! LOL – well laugh, rather than cry, I suppose. God’s been working on me and I appreciate your encouragement to move forward too, Barbie!
    Holly Barrett recently posted..Big Red Sofa: What’s love got to do with it? {giveaway}

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 14, 2014 at 7:21 pm

      Yes, let’s laugh together, shall we? You have a huge purpose my friend. Praying God will break you free from that fear and let you loose in wild freedom. Hugs!

  • Reply
    Kasey
    April 14, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Barbie, We woman mirror one another. When we take down our mask and be real we begin to see how our fears, doubts are all familiar. –There really is enough words to go around. She may have already said it, but we can say it too because we will say it differently. And most likely, if everyone is saying or writing about the same thing, then God is saying something–loved this. Thanks for being real. Blessings, Kasey

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Thanks for stopping by Kasey!

  • Reply
    satin
    April 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Holy TEARS this is amazing, Barbie! Such truth. Such gritty, gritty truth! You get down in the trenches of the soul, as you bear your own & show us amazing Truth! THANK YOU for being an obedient vessel, a willing vessel & a yielded-to Christ vessel! Love your words here & so grateful to walk this journey with you!! This post spoke to my heart SO much!! Thank you! ♥
    satin recently posted..Reveling in “Wait”

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Thank you Satin. Emily’s words are helping me to find my own words. This book has been such a blessing in my life.

  • Reply
    Alecia
    April 14, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    Oh my goodness, Barbie, you have no idea how much I can relate to these words today. It’s been 3 weeks since I’ve written posted anything. The self-doubt set in and I was afraid it was here to stay. Usually I can push through and light trickles in enough to keep me going, but lately I’ve been stuck. I’ve been working on a post similar to this for the last TWO WEEKS, I think that might be a record! I’m so glad I stopped by to read what you were up to today, what a blessing you are indeed!
    Alecia recently posted..Are You Burying Your Talents?

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 14, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Thank you Alecia. I am thankful you stopped by today. Emily’s book has been so good and much of my reflections are based on the book. I struggle to put out words that I feel have already been written, or said better. It’s been a hard journey, realizing that I have a purpose in this big world of blogging. Hugs!

  • Reply
    Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God
    April 15, 2014 at 4:21 am

    Barbie,
    Oh the voice of criticism. I could so relate to your post. I sit in my own little fog having doubts about myself as a writer. I never win when I play the “comparison game”. Here’s to all of us rooting each other on!! Keep writing!
    Blessings,
    Bev
    Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God recently posted..Are You A Door For God’s Love To Walk Through?

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 19, 2014 at 9:07 am

      That’s so true. Comparison doesn’t get us anywhere. Let’s cheer each other on and put our trust in the One who called us. Blessings!

  • Reply
    charis
    April 15, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    very true and very encouraging. i have come across this in a few interpersonal relationships and it has been painful, but the Lord has allowed me to press into Him more and realize how much i want the approval of others. i have also had the chance to learn humility. so painful and so good.

    • Reply
      Barbie
      April 19, 2014 at 9:08 am

      So nice to see you here Charis! The lesson of humility is so often painful, but so much for our good! Have a blessed Resurrection Day!

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