Photo by John-Morgan
I sat there, at one spot on a table that stretched long, parked adjacent to other tables, wrapping us into a square donut of seats.
Faces blinked back at me from across the room on the other side. It was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop.
I was at an artists meeting that night.
And I was the keynote speaker.
I walked into this room with two legs, I began.
But, if you could really look deep inside me tonight…
I took a big, shaky breath.
You would see that the legs to my soul… are broken.
My lips start to tremble and my hands start to cool and shake, even though it is a warm summer eve.
I gulp and continue.
The reason is — because you see — I’ve spent a lot of the hours of my days this year in my bed. In my home.
Not because I don’t love to be with people.
But, because of panic attacks.
They were triggered by memories that have come alive — doing something I’ve always loved.
Something I’ve always dreamed of doing.
Places Still Tender
This is how I introduced myself to a group of painters, designers, illustrators, poets, musicians… writers.
It sure didn’t sound inspiring to me at all.
At one point, I even had to stop and collect myself.
I was overwhelmed by the surreal experience of recounting my story out in the open.
Even as I shared my story, I questioned whether there was any value in exposing pain that has been endured so privately.
I felt for sure I was making everyone feel uncomfortable and awkward.
Until I saw one woman’s eyes start to tear. Then, another man’s head dip, in a knowing nod.
There is beauty behind the pain.
These are the words I found myself speaking into the room with my new friends.
When you get closer to what truly moves your heart, you will touch the places that are still tender.
Because that creative place where you feel most safe is often where you’ve gone — when you’ve been most wounded.
Where do you go — to find safety, to express pain and beauty, in your world?
It’s there — in those private places of freedom — where you meet with God and your creative self speaks.
That One Thing
When I finished speaking, I ended by asking if any parts of my story resonated?
The first question broke the silence.
“Have you always known you were a writer?” Someone asked.
I pause for a moment, to consider my answer. And the response I chose to give sparked a beautiful response — stories flowing from everyone’s childhood around the table.
I’ve always been a writer, before I called myself one.
Writing has always been that one thing in my life — since I was a little girl — that no one could ever take away from me.
I didn’t have to be good at it.
I didn’t have to think about it.
Writing is just what I did.
It’s the most natural thing I can do.
The artist in me is a little girl.
The Little Girl In You
“How about you?” I scan the gazes of new friends who suddenly feel closer than the space between us. “When you do your thing — play music, paint, design, blog about fashion, take cooking videos, build models, write, take photos — when you create — are you doing what came most naturally to you, as a child?”
Energy suddenly stirs the room, reminding me of the wind of the Holy Spirit that once blew through a room full of disciples gathering together. They began speaking in a way that was different — that drew people from the outside closer in.
That’s what art does. It connects us to each other, in those places we are most vulnerable, opening what is private, finding language for what’s unspoken. For what’s important and real.
Everyone started telling their stories — of themselves — as little girls and little boys.
What they’ve always loved to do. Before they knew what it was called. Before it became a struggle to claim artistic enjoyment as God’s legitimate imprint of Himself in us.
The artistic you. I discovered this is everyone’s continuing journey of faith. To touch the artistic life we all hide deep inside. It’s the artist’s way. The child in you.
Is there an ember of God’s creative voice flickering in you?
What is the one thing you’ve always enjoyed doing as a little girl, that felt most natural to you?
Take a moment to see yourself as that little girl right now. Where is she and what does she like to do?
As you picture her, let your heart find its way back to where it longs to return.
Because that artist in you is God’s little girl.
“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you…
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God which is in you…
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity,
but of power and love and discipline.“
2 Timothy 1:5-7
Pull up a chair. Click to comment. Share from your heart and let’s close the space between us. Your company warms this place here.
If you’re on the journey of faith to walk out into the world, I’d love your company. Join me on my blog as we journey in community together. Let’s keep speaking words of encouragement and friendship with each other in our faith stories — as it’s being made and lived. As is.
Written by Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith for everyday life.