I do not want to fall into a belief that I must suffer for my calling, that it must be hard or overwhelming. I do not believe that at all. In fact, I believe true callings are wells of joy and sources of purpose and meaning that nourish you. And they feel easy when you are in their flow. There are challenges that you must solve or untangle, but all the while you are doing that, you still feel in the flow. You come up against your own limiting beliefs, and must rid yourself of them, and it can feel like a struggle, but still there is a pervasive sense of being carried along.
A calling should bring you to life, make you feel more alive, make you feel deeply engaged and joy-filled from the certainty of how aligned you are to why you are on the earth. When I think about all my callings, they rise in me like lights, drawing me upward, outward, toward more Life, toward more meaning, toward more being… they involve breaking me open, taking me apart, and rebuilding me… but the underlying calling itself never feels like a burden or drain on me. It’s life-giving. It’s life-aligning.
There is a whole story of suffering, of suffering as holy, in the Christian faith. Suffering is seen as a way to honor Christ, which must be so fucked up to him, lol. When did he ever require that people feel guilty for his suffering and thus, throw themselves into suffering more? But suffering is a pervasive story, because it gives the soul something to do, to occupy itself with, to distract itself, it makes you think you are doing something worthy all the while it keeps you small. Rather than shine light with joy brightly into the darkness, you suffer and shrink and hide — all the while thinking your suffering is holy.
Pain is inevitable; suffering is not.
I refuse to live the Christian suffering myth. I am not a Christian and yet, how easy it is to get swept into that old pervasive belief that suffering is holy. That it means you’re doing serious God-work. That it means you are a good soldier for Christ. That it means you are a chosen one. Worthy.
Suffering is a choice. To focus on the aspects of your calling that cause pain, that break you, that make you have to surrender your ego to the unknown and to dwell on how hard it all is, how stressful it is, how impossible it all seems — rather than to do the work of sustaining your own belief, to surrender fully and give yourself over to all the uncertainty, all the unknowns, all the possibilities of greater joy, of greater beauty, to the reality that your soul has been deemed worthy, that you are actually magnificent, that you are holy powerful.
You would not have been chosen if it hadn’t already been determined that you are exactly the right person for the role. You can’t argue with the fact that you have already been determined to be qualified, capable, and to have the capacity to handle the calling. By the time the calling surfaces in your consciousness, when you are told about it, it’s long been decided. There were other candidates under consideration, but you were the one chosen. It is never a question of “can you do this?” But “will you do this?”
The only decision you have to make is yes or no.
You don’t have to decide if you’re the right person, or capable, or if you have what it takes. But what do we do? We fall right into arguing about whether or not we are capable, whether or not we have the resources, abilities, strengths….whether or not we are the right person.
Whether or not we are the right person has never been our decision to make.
We miss the whole aspect that all of that has already been decided because we WERE chosen, and if we had not been the right person, we would NOT HAVE BEEN CHOSEN to receive the calling.
In other words, our version of ourselves has to catch up to the version of ourselves that is known to the Ones issuing the calling. When the Authorities That Be decide that you are the person best suited to the role and the task, you can be sure that you’ve already been tested enough for them to know that and to have made their decision. Their confidence in you should be accepted as a fact, even if your mind has not grown into the same version of yourself as what they know. Remember, they see your potential, your malleability, your ability to grow into, to learn, to rise, to choose courage, they see what you are capable of becoming because of the calling, not just your current state and skillsets. You should assume that you are exactly the right person for the Calling issued to you.
And from that assumption, accept it and go forward.
I’ve been thinking about how the primary goal of any creative expression is to make people feel something. This truly is why we create. We want to evoke emotions in the audience. Ultimately, that is also why we view and enjoy art (and by art I’m including all art forms and mediums).
We want to be moved. It’s that thrill of not knowing how we will be moved that fills theatres, galleries, cinemas, auditoriums. We have expectations based on genre and the familiarity we have with the artists, but beyond that, we want to experience something new, something that gets us out of our everyday emotions.
But, and here is the but… for artists, there is a difference between moving an audience emotionally (surface level) and touching their souls (deep level). And that difference does not come from quality of performance, hard work, or even experience in your field. It does not come because of anything you do, it comes through what you allow.
It comes from surrendering to the idea that you are a channel.
A channel for the sacred, for the divine, for beauty and spirit, for Something Greater Than You. This surrender may or may not be a conscious decision, but when someone gives themselves fully over to this sacred impulse and energy, the result is that an audience is stunned silent. The kind of stunned silence when you have witnessed the raw power of spirit at work, where you are humbled, in reverence, in awe.
The human soul knows when it has been touched by the sacred, and no amount of planning, working, or striving can make this phenomena happen. You can’t set out to achieve it.
You can only empty your Self so fully that the Sacred pours out of you and through you. You can only show up, with such humility and trust in how your are guided, that what emerges is no longer “your talent” but something all of its own power. The greatest artists are those whose trust in this sacred flow is so deep and unbreakable that they appear almost arrogant in their confidence. They are extremely good at what they do, but it’s not just because they practice, it’s because they listen so deeply and so intently to their inner guidance and they heed what they hear.
They refuse to be led down paths they know aren’t the path for them. They say no to work that others believe would bring greater acclaim or income. They are stubborn and defiant and heed only the advice of others when that advice aligns with what they hear in their heart.
These artists don’t necessarily know when spirit is channeling through them, except by the sense that the work feels right, feels aligned, feels like it’s moving. Sometimes they don’t even know this is how spirit moves through them until an audience reflects it back. Because sometimes it’s only the audience that is aware of the sacredness, while the artist worries he or she didn’t do enough or could have done it better.
To be an artist like this, requires resolute determination to trust your Self the most. This doesn’t mean you can’t take direction from where you should be allowing direction to influence you, but it does mean you step aside, open yourself up as a channel, and allow what comes through you to be pure and undiluted by other people’s endless opinions.
No one can predict or promise that your work will touch an audience’s soul. And really, the audience’s reaction isn’t within your control. What is in your control is how surrendered you are, how humble you are, how willing you are to be the servant of the work, the steward of the vision, the trustee of the story.
Hi there! Welcome to CreativeInsideOut … you’ll find 100+ posts to inspire your creativity, help you overcome your fears, get unstuck and build a better relationship with your art.
This is a curated collection of posts — all written by me — and while I am no longer adding articles, I believe you’ll find a wealth of content to help you follow the energy that lights you up. Be brave, stand firm and have faith.
Your creative expression matters in this world. Even if the only audience you have is You.
I’m sitting at my office (kitchen table), lingering over morning coffee, chatting on Facebook. It’s Sunday, so I don’t have to address work emails. My husband and older kids are going over to our wooded land to do some mowing, while my youngest and I are watching a bid on Ebay we’re hoping to win for an espresso machine. The sun is shining, but it’s cold — sweatshirt weather. Still, the birch and poplars are fully greened. I planted the zinnias and gerber daisies in the flower beds last weekend and it’s rained almost every day since. The lilacs bloomed last week, too, and have already faded. The peonies are well on their way to an end-0f-June display. The lake is gorgeous and the resort next to us is already back in its rhythm of happy tourists arriving each Saturday.
It sounds serene, it is serene. I am nourished by this land and this location, this is where I am most me. My internal landscape isn’t quite as tranquil. On my mind: feeling guilty that I haven’t been very present here on this blog for almost a year now. Mostly because I’ve felt uninspired and wondered if maybe in 100+ posts, I’ve written all I have to say? My script is finished and in need of attention. I feel bad that I haven’t done more to “get it out there.” (It’s on The Black List, but that’s pretty much like being a book in a library of thousands. Unless someone’s looking for it, no one knows it’s there. Sigh.) At the same time, my intuition has been hinting (I’m resisting) that the Universe is paving the way for me to produce the film myself. That both scares the hell out of me, and feels incredibly… right? I’ve been very busy with client work and my own writing projects have taken a backseat. I managed to revise my novel this spring, but it, too, needs to be championed out into the world. (And knowing how much work I put into my projects and then have them just sit in files on my laptop where no one sees them — god, what’s wrong with me? Why am I so resistant to this part of the process? All I really want is for someone else to do this part for me. But to do that, I need to find an agent. And finding an agent is like finding the right person to marry….)
Also on my mind, a heavy story a young combat veteran confided in me a couple nights ago and what it means to his soul and what it means to me to carry that knowledge in my being and honor it for him. And another one who made a decision in battle that he can’t get over and how I must fight for my own belief that there is a way out for him, that the power of Love is stronger than the daily suicide he commits in his soul. And others — so many others. Beautiful. Precious. Brave. Uncertain. All caught in the throes of what war has turned them into, covered in layers of grief and fear and anxiety. They are blind to their own daily courage and face the ever-pressing temptation to believe that this battle is too hard to win. So I am present with them. Holding them in the only power I have: Love. Love that is stronger than death. And I refuse to let them give up and I refuse to let the Darkness obliterate their ability to believe that Light exists. I see them, many of whom have never been seen before — truly seen — for the beauty and joy they are. And… ugh, I’m sorry. You didn’t come here to read this, did you? You probably thought my life is more glamorous.
But in light of it all, I’m pondering Love and it’s fierceness and how we are all held in it and how there is no place that it is not. Because we are Love. And I’m pondering the concept of forgiveness when it isn’t a god that needs to forgive you, but your own mind and heart. Cracks in the heart, as the wise spirit guide Lori-Lyn Hurley recently wrote. And I’m trying to put context around here and now, because what was decided in battle cannot be undone. But it must be lived with and given new meaning and seen through new perspectives… or else, or else they choose death and go Home early. Because that’s the level of spiritual warfare they’re in now. And so am I.
But as I fight for them, I have to fight to keep restoring my own faith, over and over, to keep believing that Love is stronger than Death.
Hmm. Artist and healer. Writer and guide. The two intertwine, I can’t be one without the other, not anymore. To inspire and nurture the human spirit. The creative’s spirit. The warrior’s spirit. My own spirit.
This is not my typical post and perhaps not what you even want to hear from me. But it is a view from the inside of my life. And explains, in part, where my attention goes.
Writing is a means to an end for me. It always has been. And that end is to speak to the human heart.
We are adventurers in this earth-journey, and we all have different reasons we’re here.
And now… it’s past noon and I’m going to walk over to our property. The Ebay bid went higher than I want to pay, so the search continues. I’m going to sit on a bench on a small hill underneath the canopy of trees and let the sun warm my being. And I’m going to think about Love and Words and what thoughts to offer next that will restore another’s heart.
And my own.
“Resurrection” is usually associated with Christianity. But for our purposes here, I’m not going to talk about its religious meaning.
Let’s talk about resurrection and your life.
And your art.
Resurrection means “the act of rising from the dead” and “a rising again, from decay, disuse, etc.; revival.”
There are cycles to creativity. Death is part of that cycle. So is new life. Ideas are born, created, done. Old, unused ideas lose their energy and die out. We change. Shed old versions of beliefs, take on new ones as we move through life and this world. We are as fluid as the water we are made of.
But what about those parts of us (and our art) that feel dead and aren’t supposed to be?
Dreams that are just as valid and hungry for expression, but decaying because we believed too many voices that said: “that’s not possible” “who are you to do that?” “quit dreaming, get a real job.”
Manuscripts left untouched in files. Canvases stored. Things left undone and things done and not fully brought to life.
What about the part of yourself that used to do whatever art you do, because it was fun? And it made you feel alive? That part that got tamed by business and marketing and rejection and being given the message that “you’re not good enough” and “you don’t have what it takes” and “you’re not ‘commercial’ enough”? What about that?
What about your hope? Your faith? Your belief in the possible. Your belief in yourself? Your belief in doing what you love because that’s what you came to earth to do? That little well of faith, right there, in the center of your heart. What about that?
There are things we have to let go of. There are things that let go of us. And there are things that we have to fight to keep alive.
Resurrection. Returning to yourself. To life.
Where do you need to come back alive?