"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

These days I’m living outside my comfort zone.

A new country, a new culture and a place where I can’t speak the language, and without the blessed invention of GPS, I’d be perpetually lost.  Even with it, sometimes I still get lost!

I started out as a scaredy cat on wobbley legs, but I’m learning some things about fear–

  • It is Deceiver, seeking to confuse or defeat me.
  • It is Compass, reminding me of my own limitations while pointing to the strength and sufficiency of God.

(From Fraidy Cat.)

God knew our inclination toward fear of life’s uncertainties and unknowns, and by his providential grace, he provided remedy through his word.

  • Fear reveals my frailty and need for God.
  • Fear exposes void that begs filling with peace, love, courage, wisdom, joy.
  • Fear recognizes my insufficiency and God’s strength.

Fear is a driving force straight to the throne of God.  Isn’t that a beautiful redemption?!

Have you ever avoided trying something new because you were scared that you’d fail or look silly or you were worried about what others might think?

I know I have.  Fear isn’t anchored only to life-impacting decision and circumstance, sometimes it’s tied to little things, too.  There are countless things I’ve wanted to try but didn’t pursue because I knew I wouldn’t be good at it.

Which is absolutely ridiculous!

Why do we set a standard of perfection when we’re just learning how or trying something for the first time?

A group of friends recently invited me to join them for an Art Day.  We gathered up basic supplies–and when I say basic, I mean watercolors and brushes bought at the Dollar Store–and chose a beautiful location for inspiration. I realized quickly I had no natural artistic ability; and although everyone else had painting experience, they were extremely encouraging and generous to me.  Mostly I watched them work, learning through their mechanics and impressed by their skill.

In spite of my pitiful sketches (I didn’t make it to watercoloring), something magical happened on the dock that day:  I let go of the fear of being “bad” at it!  Amidst the encouragement of this sweet group of women, and creativity from within begging to get out, I tried…and had a blast!

I didn’t allow fear to hold me hostage and keep me from trying.  Instead, my creative void that fear tried to fill with doubt and inadequacy was replaced with joy and accomplishment.

My friend and fellow (in)courage contributor, Dawn Camp, created a lovely print –”Give God your art; for her, it means asking how to use it to better serve Him and bless others (she’s a wonderfully talented photographer!).  What I’m realizing more and more is that my desires are what God has already given me, especially when it comes to the creative.

If you’re one who identifies with my fraidy-cattedness, how can I pray specifically for you?  What desires has God given you that you’ve been afraid to pursue because of doubt or feelings of inadequacy?  Can I be your biggest cheerleader?  Summer is the perfect time to exercise your creativity!  Whether by writing or painting or drawing or crafting or WHATEVER, what have you always wanted to try but haven’t**?  

GirlieQs, I’m convinced you have what it takes, and you can take confidence in the wisdom of my friend Nester ~ It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.

By Robin Dance, artist not-so extraordinaire.
** yet
Top photo credit:  Jill McDonald from her etsy store.
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  1. 1

    Two thoughts, friend–one, an art-teacher-friend of mind of mine recently posted about why people know they have to train as athletes and practice math for the test and yet they think they either have it or not as an artist. She talked about how fear tells us we’re not good and so we never get to the practicing part. That resonated with me so much. Secondly, this place right here–(in)courage–is how I started really writing, really truly seeing myself as and declaring myself a writer. It’s because you all welcomed me and gave me a place to practice and hone my skills (continually) that I’ve been able to dismiss the fear so many more times.

    Here you are encouraging as you talk about your own battles with fear. Amazing grace. Beautiful worship.

    Rich blessings, friend, as He continues to show you…

    • 2

      Amy,

      Yours is the voice of encouragement; I’m so glad you stumbled into this place so we could hear it!

      Your art-teacher-friend makes wonderful sense; I’ll be thinking on that a while :) .

      xo

  2. 3
    Heather says:

    I have lived fearfully my entire life – and have lived with much stress and anxiety because of it. About a year and a half ago I decided that I was tired of living in fear and that I would actively battle against it. That began a season of the most intense doubts and fears (about my faith) that I have ever experienced. It has shaken me to my core. After much prayer and conversations and listening to God, my husband and I feel pretty confident that these doubts are an attack from the enemy. Knowing they are lies gives me some confidence in facing them, but I must admit that in the heat of the battle they do not feel like lies. I would appreciate prayers that God gives me victory over these fears and that my fellowship with Him is no longer tainted by these lies.

    • 4
      Beth Williams says:

      Praying for complete removal of fear & doubt placed by evil one. May God surround you & show you His grace & rich blessing & mercy!

      Here’s a small trick I have used to rid myself of evil thoughts–I stop what I’m doing & yell or quietly yell “Get thee behind me Satan you’re not welcome here!!” Try it and see if this works for you

      Blessings! Beth W

    • 5

      Praying for you right now!. The Bible says that perfect love casts out fear. You might want to try making a list of scriptures about love, and remember the times you have felt God’s love strongly, using the lessons of those moments to push back the tide of anxiety. He will never leave you or forsake you. The submitted life is safe in His hands. God bless, friend.

    • 6

      I’m so thankful for Beth and Carrie who were able to step in, encourage you, and pray! I wasn’t able to reply to comments yesterday, and this act of love blessed me greatly.

      Here’s another thing to take to heart–if you’re facing opposition, that’s a good thing! Satan wouldn’t waste time with you if he didn’t fear what you are becoming–an amazing creature glorifying her Creator :) .

      I’m praying for you Heather, heartened by the fact you’re pursuing God in new ways, hopeful that you’ll sense Him anew, resting in HIS strength and power against fear, not trying to do battle yourself.

      xo

  3. 7

    Wonderful words, especially “Fear recognizes my insufficiency and God’s strength.”.
    I’m not afraid to try new things, etc. But I have fear when it comes to my family..to be safe and remain healthy. And with teen girls there is a lot to fear out there! This past week, my youngest was flying alone, something she had never done. She isn’t as confident as her older sister, and I was afraid for her safety, would she get lost, miss the plane, etc, etc. I gave up my fear to God and a sense of calmness filled me. “Fear is a driving force straight to the throne of God” She made it in one piece, has had a good time with her cousins, and returns tonight!

    • 8

      Carolina,

      I just wrote a post about my children being my Achilles Heel; hurt them and you’ve wounded me in a way nothing else compares. But that being said, as fear creeps in, pray! It reorients your thinking to this great God of the Universe who loves them more than you (or I) ever could! :)

  4. 9

    I can relate to this situation about fear, from perhaps a different angle. I’ve always had a creative stripe and it was usually easy for me to have fun with it (crafting, writing, exploring new arts) while still maintaining my duties and responsibilities as a student and then a wife. But when the kids came along, time evaporated and I was fully immersed in their lives. Now that they’re a little older, I feel the Lord stirring me to create again…writing ideas to encourage others in the Lord, app designs to help busy moms, desires for ministry work in faraway places, all breathed into me by God (because I certainly don’t have spare breath of my own!). 2 fears paralyze me… Which creative thread do I pursue first? Time is so fleeting and I hate the idea of choosing wrong. And the greater fear, choosing to pursue a creative path when I could/should be pursuing a path of income in my field of training (I was a teacher for 10 years before we had kids and memories of a double paycheck are hard to forget!). I have guilt trips about making my husband continue to provide alone when I could be helping. But that means putting the creative passion on the shelf (although I do love teaching’s creative opportunities, they’re no longer my passion.). This summer is crunch time…I’m supposed to be getting my resume together and calling around for places to apply. I haven’t started yet, hoping and praying that God will match my desire to follow what He’s put into my heart with what our family of 5 needs in terms of provision and peace. When I can’t look forward, I look back and remember all that He has brought me/us through in the past and how faithful He has been in the midst of past unknowns. Why worry now? Soon today’s anxiety will be yesterday’s perfectly answered prayer. That’s where I’m standing in this season of waiting. And I’d sure love to have another sister standing in prayer with me! (sorry for the ramble…I’m actually having a prolonged period of quiet while the kids are watching cartoons and I got carried away:-).

    • 10
      Beth Williams says:

      Jen,

      Praying for God to give you abundant guidance regarding work, or creativity. Perhaps some of your creativity could be used to make money for the family–ask & you shall receive!

      Blessings!

    • 11

      Jen,

      Ramble away, lovie :) .

      I think you need to breathe….inhale, exhale…slowly. Your guilt trips are faulty and you’ve been living a holy calling to mama those babies of yours. If now is the time to return to work in some capacity, fantastic! I WILL be praying discernment over you and wisdom in your choices. You aren’t going to make a mistake regardless of your path; it can all be used for your good and God’s glory…somehow.

      Let us know what you decide, k? :)

  5. 12
    Ashley says:

    I needed to hear this today! I have lived in fear my entire life and now that I am a mom, I do not want this to rub off on my son. After he was born 10 months ago, I knew that I would be returning to work. My husband and I tried to find a way for me to be able to stay home, but we just couldn’t work that out financially. I worked a very fast-paced marketing job and as my maternity leave drew to a close, I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving my sweet baby and going back to that. I was scared and when an administrative assistant position opened up in the same company, I took it because it meant a less demanding schedule and I thought I was doing what was best for my family. I never quite felt peace about it, but moved forward anyway. Now, almost 8 months later, I have been given the opportunity to return to my old job that I loved. Part of me wants to take it, but I am afraid of choosing wrong again. My creativity is being stifled in this admin assistant position and a part of me is really wanting to return to a job that I love. But the other part of me is so guilty that I would be choosing more work over my son. Deep down I know that really isn’t true. I am just so conflicted and scared of making the wrong choice. Prayers would be much appreciated!

    • 13

      I will be praying for you.

      And I don’t think you would be choosing work over your son. I think showing your son that you are willing to work hard to do what you enjoy and use the gifts God gave you is a wonderful thing to do. He will see that there are many different ways to honor God in what we do. Plus, he’ll probably enjoy less time with a mom who’s creatively fulfilled and enjoying her job than more time with a mom who’s feeling stressed and frustrated and creatively stifled.

    • 14

      Gosh, I’m so blessed by this (in)community; thanks to Rachel for sharing her insight, praying, and stepping up to speak truth into your life.

      It’s SO easy for mamas to absorb crazy guilt! Love your baby well, love your husband well, see your vocation as a holy calling. God has gifted you with your passions and talents; if you feel stifled it’s because they’re begging to come out and play.

      Praying over your choices now, Ashley; and please let us know what you end up doing :) .

  6. 15
    Cindy McKinnon says:

    Please pray that God would help me realize what my dream is – what He created me to be. Photography constantly calls to me, but I have ignored it figuring I can’t dedicate too much time and money to an expensive hobby. My lack of self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy stop me in my tracks. I tell myself I am not intelligent enough to fully understand all that photography encompasses and not creative enough to make a difference. I am trying to figure out if this is what God has for me, because if it is, I must follow it. I just don’t know how to make sense of it and not let my baggage of failure get in the way.

    • 16

      Cindy, hon…{{hugs}}. I know how this feels, to hear others speak of God sized dreams and seeming to be living them LARGE. And to sit and wonder what He’s gifted YOU to do. Again, I’m asking for discernment for you; to pursue a passion that you cannot ignore. I pray you set your eyes on Christ and not on circumstance or reliance on yourself. And I’m praying you’re able to see what God already sees in you, and for that to be ENOUGH.

      :)

  7. 17

    Yes, you can pray for me!
    … As my son goes away to Europe for much of the summer for our family to be blessed in our journeys and challenges and new experiences… I pray he will come home safely to us.
    … This summer I am relearning playing the flute and looking forward to having the time to enjoy that!
    God bless you ladies!

  8. 19

    Yes, you can pray for me!
    … As my son goes away to Europe for much of the summer for our family to be blessed in our journeys and challenges and new experiences… I pray he will come home safely to us. … This summer I am relearning playing the flute and looking forward to having the time to enjoy that!
    God bless you ladies!

  9. 20
    Beth Williams says:

    I still don’t know what God’s will is for my life. I think this & that–then rush into getting degrees only to find years later that I dislike the kind of work I’m doing & want something with more meaning.

    I constantly hear the evil one, just last night, whispering “Stupid, dumb, not smart enough” in my ears. I try to dispell that notion, but every now and then it comes back to me, especially at work.

    Praying for all!! :)

    • 21

      The good news is that we make the idea of God’s will much more complicated than it needs to be. He created us to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Maybe take some time to think back on times in your life when you really felt like you were *enjoying* God. What were you doing? What were you pursuing? Which activities and people in your life stir up those affections? Do those things. Which activities and people in your life threaten those affections? Avoid those things.

      And remember – God can use you in any circumstances, so as long as it’s not sin, there isn’t really a wrong choice here.

    • 22

      Hey Beth,

      I fall into the camp that the “will of God” is simply knowing Him, loving him, and loving others. That can look like a lot of different things, so I pray this translates into something you can wrap your arms around. Make a choice; do it with excellence to the glory of God….

      And keep in mind that it’s not necessarily a “forever” decision; yes, sometimes we wish we had made other choices BUT it seems to me I’ve read God can use ALL things for our good and His glory :) .

  10. 23

    In recent weeks, I have finally declared myself a writer. For some reason, even though I have been blogging for eight years, I never actually named it and stated clearly and loudly that “I AM a writer.” Ever since I did that, God has sent all kinds of posts and articles about creativity and following your dreams my way. Isn’t that cool of him?

    Please pray that I would not succumb to fear and excuses, but find ways to pursue this dream even during the school year when I am teaching. Pray also that I would find harmony in the dream of being a writer and the dream of being a fantastic teacher for my students.

  11. 24

    This really spoke to my heart today. I am in a new season in my life where I am moving to a completely new place to start grad school. I have an amazing family and good group of friends here. I am fearful of being lonely and not finding that community of friends and believers. I am afraid that maybe I won’t like what I going to be studying. This post reminded me today that even when I feel weak God is strong. He has amazing plans in store for me. He is going to use me in the new place for His glory. Please pray that I will be courageous in the Lord in this new season and not miss out what God has in store for me! Thank you!:)

    • 25

      Praying for you! I have been there! I moved across the country to teach after college and left behind an amazing community. There have been some difficult times in the past three years, but also some times of amazing growth and learning and relying on God. I will be praying that you find an encouraging community and a new strength rooted in your identity in Christ.

    • 26

      One more thing – this feels kind of smarmy and I don’t usually use comment threads on other blogs to promote mine, but I feel like this might be useful to you. This week on my blog I’ve been sharing ideas about how to avoid isolation in church, especially if you are moving to a new one. Basically, it’s taken me three years to learn all this stuff and I don’t want it to take other people that long. Here’s the link, I hope it can be helpful to you: http://rachelheather.wordpress.com/category/how-to-avoid-isolation-in-the-church/

  12. 27

    You’ve done it again; I love your posts, Robin! In a blogpost titled God’s Song, I shared last November about a time when God healed my soul as I painted a bookshelf. I have little talent with paint but, still, the process of painting brought the silence I needed to sense God’s healing touch. It was a beautiful experience that I’ll treasure forever. I’m convinced that we experience God more fully and in a new way when we are creative. Makes sense, since He’s our Creator and the source of all our creativity.

    Thank you for reminding me to step out in FAITH, not fear!
    Blessings!
    A

  13. 28

    I relate to this very much.

    I want to know what is good, do what is good, and most of all to LOOK like I am doing what is good!

    When I am called to do something creative, or something new, or something in those gray areas… it is scary! THEY might not understand! They might judge me! It might not be perfect! I might get it wrong!

    But it’s out there, on that limb that I remember what it is that makes me secure: HIS GRACE. Nothing else.
    Emily
    http://www.weakandloved.com

  14. 29

    Robin, I love this post on creativity and losing our fear … this is one of my favorite quotes about creative imagination … “The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old questions from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.”—Albert Einstein…which I included in my blog post …. http://bethwillismiller.blogspot.com/2009/09/imagine.html

  15. 30
    Olivia says:

    Please pray for me. At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, my principal gave me the devastating news that after 22 years teaching in the same school, I would not be given a contract for the next school. Then on June 10, 2011, my family lost our home for the second time to a fire, and this time, there was an injury. My right arm was severely burned. I am thankful, though, that a passer-by stopped and told me, and that I have two neighbors trained in medicine who saw to the first aid and prevented the burns from worsening. Today, one year later, I am healed physically, but still dealing with the job loss and the fire loss emotionally.

    Please pray that I can recover from the sense of loss, that I will find meaning work again (the job market is depressing, and it is not easy for a 32-year veteran of teaching and a 54-year-old woman to find a career, much less a job!). Also please pray that I can step out on faith with my photography as a means of income to help with the financial situation at home (new home, replacement of the essentials of housekeeping, etc.).

    Please pray that I can overcome all my fears as well. Being a “creative” is sometimes the scariest thing of all.

  16. 31

    This sums up almost exactly how I feel… I spend most of my time with my head in the sand, avoiding the world. I’ve been called to worship leading, and have done for a few years now, however I feel that God is also leading me to be a voice to the voiceless… to speak justice and truth through music into situations where there is no justice. I’m nearly crippled by fear though, and a perfectionist on top of that. I’d love to learn to play keyboard to aid songwriting, but feel a block any time I try to play… I get frustrated, and walk away. Please pray that God helps me break through this barrier, and that this fear really drives me to His throne.

    • 32
      Susanne says:

      I’m praying for you, Cheryl! I know exactly how you feel, for I feel it daily. This is why I seek out sites like this….. to know that there are people out there just like me and that I know I’m not alone in my fear. Pray for me too..

  17. 34
    Brooke Burger says:

    Thanks for this. I had never thought of being afraid to be creative. Afraid to do a lot of things yes, but create not so much. PTL! God has helped me with a lot of my fears. I will have to think on this creative thing. I grew up as a not so creative/artistic/musical memeber of an EXTREMELY TALENTED extended family. Yes, I have played, sung, and done a little artwork, but compared to my family it wasn’t much. This gives me something to think on. Thanks.

  18. 35

    Love this. And Robin, I love the pictures you take! I have been following on Instagram and it’s inspiring!
    I am a fraidy cat with blogging right now. I started up again and am just scared to keep going and it IS silly. I am also doing the same when it comes to getting creative with expressing myself in my style of simple mixed media art and decorating around our home. I believe God gave me these interests and has urged me to write or spill out with my creativity and yet I am so afraid.
    I read this post and others and think, Yeah! Why am I scared, just go for it! And then this “stuckness” is still there…Ugh! Way to go with just going for it with the water paints! Yes, let’s pray for each other.

  19. 36

    My life nowadays is about overcoming fear and leaning more on Jesus. On that note, I’ve also become a bit of an adrenlen junkie. Last year’s Flagstaff Extreme showed me that even though I had to be let out of the trees in the third course, I COULD do it if I came back again to try all four. Then, next year I am doing Tough Mudder–a 10-12 half marathon with obsticles. I want to live, not let fear drive me as it once did.

  20. 37

    Thanks for the link, sweetie! I love your friends’ Art Day. I really want to try that!

  21. 38

    I am lost in my mid-20s trying to figure out the path that God wants me to take. I have started a meek little event planning business, but cannot yet quit my job and be fully committed to it. I am not sure if it’s God’s voice telling me to quit my day job and serve others, or if it’s my own selfish desire that is bored in this day-to-day ritual. I am ready to release this paralyzing fear and let God take control. Please pray that my controlling nature will allow Him to do that.

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