I'm delighted to feature my good friend Kim Turnage here today. I met Kim when she invited me to join her small group at our church, and since then she has impacted my life in countless ways (she encouraged me to start blogging, for one!). I love the questions she asks, her compassion and heart and her love for God. Please enjoy Kim's poignant, honest words here today, and then be sure to visit her blog, From Doing to Being. She doesn't disappoint!
The watercolor sky – silver fading to blue fading to black, the high slice of moon and glimmering stars – reminded her that she'd always wanted to paint but didn't know how, was in some ways afraid of the idea of putting brush to canvas, of making a mark that couldn't be erased. The idea that she might create something that was laughable, pitiable, or silly had stopped her from ever taking a class or even buying paints. Foolish. It was foolish....(from Fragile by Lisa Unger)
My heart gave up on art in 2nd grade. A girl in my class laughed at a picture of a tree I had made, pointed and invited others to judge it unworthy as she had. Until then I hadn't thought of art as something to be judged, only something to be done, a full body immersion. And the heat of my immersion shockingly soaked in ice-cold judgment cracked my little-girl heart, leaving a poorly mended hairline fracture in my woman's heart.
Art became something different. A product not a process. An outcome to be judged and deemed worthy – or not. The critical object of an imaginary audience, one that has grown over time and seeped into that poorly mended fracture, pushing out its edges so it touches more than just art.
Compared to some of this audience's newest members, those 2nd graders are downright friendly. But this audience of my own making, this audience of none, will find fault with anything I do. It will judge me by what I can produce rather than by who I am. And it will have no mercy, no love, and offer not a shred of grace. (How could it do otherwise? After all, it's not made up of real people with real opinions and real feelings.)
For me, this imaginary audience instills fingers of fear that seek to ensnare my soul and keep me from trying to create anything at all.
Most often I can see the foolishness of it all, shattering the illusion and scattering the specter of fear like a puff of dandelion seeds. It's easiest in areas of life where I feel confident and competent.
But sometimes it's harder, and I need words like these to spur me on:
Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. (Galatians 1:10)
Obviously? Maybe not. But these words reorient me.
So I write, less to spite my imaginary audience than to please God. And I stretch to translate more of the beauty of his creation into images of it I can share with others (in photos, not works of my hands). And maybe someday I'll be willing to paint.
The first thing I try might be a tree. Perhaps the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Because maybe that's where this whole judgment and worthiness and approval-winning thing got started.
Thanks, Kim – you are such an incredible blessing to me! And don't forget everyone, visit Kim and leave her lots of comment love!