I don’t think I know one talented artist who hasn’t lived through some sort of pain, confusion, or a “dark night of the soul”. Artists are prophetic. They reveal the voice of God that speaks through their own perspective on life and darkness and hope. I have seen dance choreographers, musicians, visual artists, etc., reflect the beautiful human side of God… the side that says, “this is my journey with God. The crap. The ugly parts. The joyful parts. This is what my heart looks like and because He made my heart, what I have to bring is beautiful.” Artists and prophetic people are sensitive, which means I’m sensitive. Wow…. am I sensitive. I feel everything around me and sometimes it is overwhelming.
I was thinking about all of this this morning. I went to bed late having wrestled with God for most of the night. Getting up early to sit before Him didn’t sound super appealing after four hours of sleep. Words were no longer formulating on my tongue. I didn’t know what to say anymore. I didn’t know what to write in my journal. The normal stream of consciousness wasn’t flowing freely. But I got my pen out anyway because the thoughts that were coming to me were so tender that if I said what I really wanted to, I would completely lose it. Instead I wrote lyrics. My lyrics magically knew what was going on in my heart without pounding me over the head with it.
Art is prayer. An artist may not be praying to the right person in their art but inside they are begging for something, communicating with Someone, directing their soul toward something they can’t see.
Jesus, I love how you let me communicate to You in this way. I love that even though I’m not saying out loud exactly what I’m thinking, you see what I’m trying to say through my art. You see my heart behind it and it reminds me that You know me.
Lately, I’ve been feeling pulled in a zillion directions in terms of creative projects . The lack of focus on any particular area of creativity has me frustrated. I have so many things I WANT to do yet very few things are getting done. So many of these projects are on the verge of being finished yet the last steps to completion have yet to be accomplished. That song I want to finish writing? Yeah. Need to organize some time with a certain guitar player for the finishing touches. That novel that has been sitting on my hard-drive for what feels like decades? The thought of finishing the editing process has me breaking out in hives. That dresser that I keep saying I’m going to paint? I can’t seem to scrape up some extra cash in my budget to buy supplies (oh, and what’s a budget again?).
I keep wondering what it is that is causing me to procrastinate. Maybe it is that these last steps are just way too boring for me to hold my attention. Maybe it’s my fear of failure that my work might actually stink… stink really bad. Maybe it’s that I am scared of letting people see inside a little piece of me… a little vulnerable, somewhat broken piece that influenced both my song and my novel.
But as I sit here and ponder all of these excuses, one little whispered phrase keeps penetrating my psyche, “but I love to do these things with you. I take pleasure in seeing you do what you were made to do.” And that right there is motivating enough to remember what I love about creating characters and scenes and adventures on a page. If that is all that happens with finishing a book… if I just get to partake in His feeling of pleasure that I finished what I started… I finished an idea that He gave me, than I suppose that is all of the motivation I need.
Girls and boys pretend to hate
While shadows prepare themselves to pounce
And curtained windows behave like walls
Sleepy-eyed lovers rest unknowingly
As liquid people moisten the seams
Hiding among the crevices
The rot reveals the hidden truth
The sanctuary reveals there’s too much room
And they think they will die
But grasping for eternity
They pull back curtains, a way to see
And linger there, unhurriedly
In the stalemate love is born
It holds their hands and holds their hearts
While others sigh and rage and mourn
There is glass between our touch,
Phantom limbs of former love…
And the truth is that I am so terrified
That the callous is deeper
Than the surface of our skin.
And it takes us twice as long,
It takes twice as long to heal.
We’ll lift up the ground to see
The system of roots beneath.
Gears turn, endlessly,
To bring the world back to life
Like clockwork, when it dies.
The cadence of beating hearts,
The clock of its moving parts
Grows louder and louder
From this restless earth…
Future gardens wait patiently below
And somehow we smell them blossom
Through the snow.
We chase what we’re denied.
As generations wait,
We can’t resist the taste of possibility.
Gears turn, endlessly,
To bring us back to life again.
Like clockwork, we begin
I was in second grade in Mrs. Franklin’s class when she directed us to write a fictional story about our class discovering dinosaur bones on a field trip. I remember the excitement I felt as I penned sixteen pages of glorious second-grade prose into my spiral notebook. I created an elaborate story, complete with dinosaur bones coming alive and scaring old Mrs. Franklin. I had never felt more awake in my young life than I did as I crafted that imaginary story.
In school I was not the mathematician or the scientist. I never did well in those areas but when it came to writing and literature, my teachers would often tell my parents “encourage her with this! she has a gift!”. I was a daydreamer and instead of listening intently during 4th grade math, I would spin fairy stories in my head, come up with character names and even details about their 19th century clothing. This daydreaming would come back to bite me when I received my report card but it paid off when I would win the county creative writing contest or win awards in the Duluth News Tribune for my creative narrative and eventually, in high school, become student editor of Speak Out, a column for local teens in the Ashland Daily Press.
I went on to study English Literature at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock but three years into my degree, a personal tragedy struck and I dropped out of college, heart-broken. It would be years before I was able to be focused enough to write again… or would even have the desire to do so.
Being in the prayer room while on staff at the International House of Prayer began to stir something in me that was akin to that feeling I had in second grade. That feeling of heat in my belly, probably even aroused by Holy Spirit, that would urge me to communicate ideas that were on His heart. I began writing in a blog truths that the Lord had been teaching me, but in my head, was still hesitant to acknowledge myself as a writer again.
After moving to Ottertail, Minnesota and joining the Firestarters writers group, I felt a pressure to create that I had not felt in a long time. Unfortunately, working full-time as a legal secretary, didn’t offer me a lot of time to ponder and think and create. I felt miserable at my job, exhausted all the time, and trapped into doing something that I hated just so that I could get by with my very meager income.
Then it began with a dream (as it usually does). I walked into a bedroom where both of my parents (who are no longer married to each other) were sitting on a bed. They asked me what I was reading and I responded that I was reading Journey of Desire by John Eldredge and Dreaming With God by Bill Johnson. My mom began asking me what I wanted to do with my life and in the dream I replied that I wanted to write and preach the Gospel. My mom then informed me that I needed to quit my job and said some other things that I don’t care to write about at the moment. Huh. Well I couldn’t just quit my job…. could I?
A couple weeks after that dream I had another. It was simply a snapshot dream where my boss came to me and let me go from my job. I woke up, knowing I would be let go, and that it was for a specific purpose. Three weeks later, it was exactly as I expected… my boss pulled me into his office and told me I was no longer needed at the office. Instead of distress I felt absolutely relieved. I knew it was the Lord directing me into a better path… one that fit me perfectly.
Days after my last day at the law office I traveled to Kansas City, where I still am, for a time of prayer and re-focusing. Thoughts of inadequacy plagued my mind. I’m not good enough to do this. How can I ever pull this off? Does God really desire to bless me enough that I actually get to do something that I love to do for a living? At the Awakening Service on Wednesday night, a woman from the prophecy teams spoke to me and said that she saw something creative around me. She said that I didn’t feel that I was good enough to do what He was calling me to do. I knodded in agreement. She looked me straight in the eyes and firmly told me that what I did was powerful and it would impact many. If that wasn’t enough, the Lord knew I needed some specific confirmation. So this morning, I went to check my email and noticed a message from a nightwatch leader at the House of Prayer. This is not someone that I communicate with much at all and in the email he tells me he has a prophetic word for me and that he has been thinking about it all week long. He blatantly tells me that I am called to be a writer. How is that for confirmation?
I am very eager and excited to start this journey and I know from this day forward, my life will never be the same. Aside from my primary calling as a lover of God, this is the day I know myself as a writer. And that, my friends, is my journey into this knowledge.
This is where the line is drawn.
He either takes it all or just a piece of me.
He either has my whole heart or just what I am willing to offer.
This is where I stand and refuse to look away from his torn, bloody, broken body beaten with love for me.
This is where I come to terms with my true identity.
I won’t appear a victim or martyr or dirty ugly rotten selfish whore.
This is where I leave my fathers house and come with open heart, satisfying the King’s desire for my beauty.
She ascends the stairs, weary
Feet heavy as anvils
Heart holding a cry of unbelief
She is wound in ropes of her own imagination,
Tightly enclosed, held captive
In boundaries self-imposed
Packaged neatly into her own
Lowered ideals, vain-glory aspirations,
Fear is a dark blanket, smothering,
Choking back holy dreams
She carries the passive murmur of the deceived
Her eyes, then dull with pain
Begin to flicker at vibrant images
And vibrant faces
Softening begins as a ripple moves
Under her feet:
The beginnings of a thunderous sound
The sound of heaven echoes
From the domed ceiling top
Invading her countenance
The syrupy scent of praise erupts,
Canvasing her dreary face
While shadows fade
Her heart moves from right to left
A snap of fibrous twine is heard
.… one more and then another
She hesitates at losing her grip.
The thrill of risk overwhelms her.
Yet determination overcomes her.
Pushing back every restraint,
Colors unfold a radiant face
Her hands and fingers
Flex with light
Her arms raise and wave and
Fan flames and fire
Her chest ignites and burns
Her body sways with
She spins and kicks,
Limbs stretching, rising
Excitement rises in her throat
The pressure of thrill fills her mouth
She yells with passion,
A blistering scream,
Melting a heart
Heat rises through her,
Filling her veins
She shimmies and worships and
Dances out the night
The sun rises, taking over her gaze
As she gathers her white gown
And unveils her face